Being a fan of 'Nordic Noir' TV series like The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge, I thought I was in for a treat with this book, the first Scandinavian crime thriller I've come to in written form. However, this is a formulaic and dull book which bored me so much I only got one eighth of the way through before exasperatedly giving up. The book builds up tension in exactly the same way as does watching repeats of Homes Under The Hammer
on daytime TV, possibly followed by a trip to the newsagents to buy some milk and instant coffee granules. No doubt the murders, which I didn't get to, are graphic, but I would guess the lack of supporting atmosphere and kinetic drama would probably make them seem rather the product of a slightly sick mind than a vital part of a driving narrative.
Nesbo's descriptions include frequent, unintentionally hilarious and irrelevant details that make you wonder if he copied and pasted from quasi-randomised Google searches.
"Harry kicked the waste-paper basket beside his desk and it smashed into the wall next to Ellen's chair and rolled across the linoleum floor, spreading its contents everywhere: discarded attempts at reports (the Ekeberg killing); an empty pack of twenty cigarettes (Camel, tax free sticker); a green Go'man yoghurt pot; Dagsavisen
; a used cinema ticket (Filmteateret: Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas
); a used pools coupon; a music magazine (MOJO
, no. 69, February 1999, with a picture of Queen on the cover); a bottle of Coke (plastic, half-litre); and a yellow Post-it note with a phone number he had considered ringing for a while.
Ellen looked up from her PC and studied the contents of the bin on the floor.
'Are you chucking the MOJO out, Harry?' she asked.
'Fuck!' Harry repeated."
The overall impression is that the book is written like (I imagine) a bad screenplay, lacking anything more than perfunctory and superficial inner thoughts and motivation of the characters, and with the descriptive detail of an archive of football results. Hardly an attempt at a readable novel at all.
I'm extremely disappointed, and only hope my Henning Mankell books bought from my local library are better-written.