The Devil's Star, by Jo Nesbo

by Peter

(Original title Marekors.) Jo Nesbo (Norwegian name Nesbø), author of the best-selling series featuring Detective Harry Hole, has won many prizes for his novels, including the Glass Key Award, The Devil's Star, by Jo Nesbo the Riverton Prize and the Norwegian Bookclub’s prize for best ever Norwegian crime novel. His first novel published in English was The Devil’s Star (it was first published in the UK in 2005), which has sold more than 100,000 copies in Norway alone. To get a perspective on this – that means 1 of every 45 Norwegians have bought it – if it sold the same in the US, that would be 6.8 million books.

The main character in Nesbo’s books, first introduced to UK readers in The Devil’s Star, is detective Harry Hole: an angry, hard-drinking, near alcoholic, and off-the-rails detective who wants to play the game by his own rules.

As The Devil’s Star starts, it’s a sweltering summer in Oslo when a young woman is found murdered in her flat. One finger has been cut off, and beneath her eyelid is a tiny red diamond in the shape of a five pointed star.

Detective Harry Hole is assigned to the case with Tom Waaler – a colleague Harry suspects of running an arms smuggling gang and of having murdered his partner – and initially Harry Hole refuses to become involved. But he is already on notice to quit the force and is left with no choice but to drag himself out of his alcoholic stupor and go to work.

Five days later, a man reports his wife missing. When her severed finger is found wearing a ring mounted with the same star-shaped red diamond, it seems Oslo has a serial killer on its hands. The case in The Devil’s Star revolves around a riddle of fives: five points to the star, five fingers on the hand, and every fifth day a new victim to be counted. In his pursuit of the truth behind both mysteries, Harry Hole unwittingly finds himself on the run from the police and forced to make difficult decisions about his future as a detective.

The Devil’s Star is an extremely exciting and entertaining book, a great crime novel by a brilliant author that has recently been nominated for the Edgar prize (for Nemesis)! The plot is superb, the action is intriguing, inspector Harry Hole has plenty to deal with, and the story is told in a fascinating and appealing manner as well. I am sure he will be well received in England and the US, as he has been in Scandinavia.

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