Harry Hole is back, having survived the cliff hanger at the end of PHANTOM and having made a deal with himself that lecturing about police work is the best way to keep his demons at bay. When his former colleagues ask for help with a series of murders targeting police officers who have failed to solve previous crimes though, it’s only a matter of time before Harry agrees to rejoin his old team. The decision is triggered by one specific shocking event in a novel that’s packed full of them, as well as Nesbo’s characteristic twists, turns and red herrings. I saw through some of his attempts to lead the reader up the garden path but fell for many more and POLICE keeps you guessing and on tenterhooks right up to the final page. There are some gruesome crimes and some truly chilling moments but the horror never feels gratuitous or voyeuristic, and Harry’s methodology of focusing in on motive helps hugely in this respect, such as an interesting exploration here of murder inspired by love rather than hatred.
What Nesbo’s done so well throughout the Harry Hole series is give us compelling plots alongside a consistent and credible hero. In this book, we see a new – more sober – side to Harry but one that’s just as intriguing and I really enjoyed the way we get more insight into his mental and emotional landscape. The pace of POLICE is a bit slower than some of the other Hole books, but the heat is all the more intense for the slow burn and it kept me under the duvet over Xmas for a perfect quiet day inside whilst the rain came down at the window.
I’d recommend reading alongside PHANTOM in order to fully understand some of the story line, especially that revolving around Oslo’s corrupt police chief, but if you don’t the book does work as a stand alone as well. It ends with a disturbing glimpse of what no doubt will become the next installment in the series – I can’t wait.