Weekend over and jet lag seemingly gone, I say seemingly as I keep waking up at 3 am in the morning wide awake, but this will pass.
So back to Random Jottings and it is good to be back and my first post is about a writer I have been reading while in Australia. When loading up my Kindle with books to take with me (more on this in another post) I found a book by Jo Nesbo on offer - Amazon are clever at putting one book out as a taster and getting you hooked, and I decided to give it a try after checking out other comments and reviews on the website all of which seemed to be laudatory. None of them were wrong, I devoured the first book, The Snowman, and then went back and bought the rest for my Kindle (Amazon had caught me!)
Of course, as is my wont, I read them all out of order because of the way I bought them, but I don't let this worry me, and the first one The Snowman was an absolute stonker. I have always found snowmen and clowns to be rather creepy and this story merely reinforced my view, a series of women goes missing and these abductions take place during the first snowfall and there is always a snowman in the garden, in one case wearing a scarf of the missing person. These women all have one thing in common, but what is it...
These books are the latest Scandinavian books to catch my eye. They are set in Oslo and the main protagonist is one Harry Hole (rather an unfortunate name I fear and I would assume that the 'o' has the Scandinavian accent so it would be 'hurle' instead of the bald English hole). Harry is yet another of these detectives who seem incapable of a forming a lasting relationship, he is world weary and an alcoholic to boot, and of course, is a maverick detective who plunges all around him into dangerous situations and then wins through each time by the skin of his teeth. However, instead of finding him a stock character and thinking here we go again, I found myself rather taking to Harry. He is vulnerable and well aware of his shortcomings and tries hard to fight the demons which beset him.
I am not going to go into intricate details of the plots of the books I have read so far, which are Nemesis, The Redbreast, the Snowman, The Redeemer and I am half way through the latest, The Leopard, mainly because they are so intricately plotted that it would take all night and your really should read them yourself. I gather there are two earlier ones as yet untranslated so I do hope these are published soon as I have become addicted to yet another detective series and one which is so superior to many others that I really want more, and quickly.
The Snowman deals with a serial killer and the case involves people close to Harry and proves particularly traumatic for him. At the start of The Leopard, which I am currently reading, he has fled abroad and lost himself in the opium dens of the east to try and forget what happened to him. He has resigned from the force but his old boss wants him back as he fears another serial killer is on the loose and Harry has expertise which he needs. So a woman detective is sent out to bring him back and the story starts. I am about 70 pages in and already am finding it difficult to put down.
I gather Jo Nesbo was a professional footballer and wished to play for Tottenham Hotspur (not so sure he would want to do that now), but an accident to his knees brought his sporting careet to an end. He sings and plays in a band (which explains the mentions and references to music in the books) when he was asked to write his autobiography. He didn't do that, but he wrote a detective novel instead and off he went. These multi-talented people do make one feel inadequate.......
Jo Nesbo talks about his creation and his books on the a podcast on the Vintage books website http://www.vintage-books.co.uk/authors/vintage-podcasts/ The whole podcast is interesting but if you just want to hear Jo, he is about 15 minutes in on Podcast 7.
Two comments I must make: the translator is Don Bartlett and he has done an excellent job as far as I can make out in showing us Harry the person and is as part of the books as the author so I am mentioning him.
And my second comment is the fact that the publishers have put the phrase 'the next Stig Larsson' on the covers. This is an insult to Jo Nesbo as he is streets ahead of that writer, who I think is pretty crappy and perfunctory, and yes I know he has sold millions, but all one has to do here to defeat that argument is say 'Dan Brown' ..............
Delighted to discover yet another detective writer to add to my list of 'must haves' and a new author who writes to well. With new books from Donna Leon and Andrea Camilleri due in the next month, I am a happy woman.