Skip to main content

The Thirst: A Harry Hole Novel

Review

The Thirst: A Harry Hole Novel

It is so nice to have Harry Hole back. A number of followers of this addicting series thought that the uncanny, badly damaged, down-but-not-out Oslo homicide detective would fade quietly and peacefully into a domestic tranquil sunset after POLICE. Indeed, the first 50 or so pages of Jo Nesbø’s THE THIRST barely contain a mention --- well, maybe one or two --- of Harry at all. That is quickly remedied, though, when he is brought back into the thicket of an investigation into a series of murders that has some roots in his past...and his only real failure.

THE THIRST takes place right now. The killer, whose method of termination is centuries old and is as grisly as can be, is selecting his victims, all of whom have one thing in common: they are avid, possibly even rabid, users of Tinder, the dating application that created the “swipe right” catchphrase that apparently has a worldwide following. I don’t know how it translates into Norwegian --- we would have to check that out with Neil Smith, who once again brings his very ample linguistic skill set to this book for its American publication --- but translate it does, and terrifyingly so, to the extent that a life of celibacy and self-monogamy seems preferable to online dating in all of its configurations. The victims, however, certainly don’t feel that way until it’s too late.

"THE THIRST is a long book but does not read like one. It is more like a short story that you hope will never end, though end it does, with an unresolved plot thread that promises more novels to come from Nesbø..."

Harry, who has retired from the force, is gainfully and, to all appearances, joyfully employed as a criminal investigation lecturer at a local university, where he basically just recounts the investigative methods he utilized to solve his most famous cases. He has promised himself, his wife and everyone within hailing distance that he will not go back to law enforcement. But when this case is presented to him, he is urged to go back at the point of a bayonet. He returns, yet hardly does so kicking and screaming, because he senses that the killer he is chasing is the same individual he failed to catch before, even though these murders bear no particular similarities to the ones that he previously investigated, and successfully so.

Harry uses a phrase to describe what he sees initially when brought to the crime scene of the killer’s latest victim: he feels as if he is hearing “the voice of a man he was trying not to remember.” That description echoes and haunts throughout the book, even as perspectives switch among Harry, the murderer, and the always interesting and fascinating supporting cast that Nesbø has assembled. It is the latter who tells us the most about Harry, from his oddly attractive demeanor (apparently counterintuitively so) to his voice and, perhaps most significantly, his methodology in hunting a killer, who is seemingly operating at will and with prescience, in all but plain view.

THE THIRST is a long book but does not read like one. It is more like a short story that you hope will never end, though end it does, with an unresolved plot thread that promises more novels to come from Nesbø, as well as the whisper of the possibility that Harry’s peace of mind and life have an approaching sell-by date. If you are unfamiliar with this mesmerizing series, this is a terrific place to jump on.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 10, 2017

The Thirst: A Harry Hole Novel
by Jo Nesbø

  • Publication Date: May 9, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • ISBN-10: 0385352166
  • ISBN-13: 9780385352161