This is the second book written by Jo Nesbo that I have read in the past few weeks. The First one was The Leopard that I also liked though it was only after I brought the book home that I realized it is a Norwegian novel. After reading the translation of the Henning Mankell series I was a bit apprehensive but that of the Jo Nesbo series is beautifully done. None of the sentences are abrupt or half-finished and the writing seemed smooth enough. It must be a tough job to translate from one language to another and maintain the essence of the original. Like poetry for instance. There are some beautiful poems/ sonnets etc. in Urdu and Hindi but I just can not see them retaining their magic if translated into English.
In this book, our hero Henry Hole (another alcoholic) is just managing to get back on his feet with the help of his partner ( professional) Ellen and getting into the swing of work and life. Unfortunately for him, while working on a security detail for the visiting President of the United States, he causes a major embarrassment to both sides and spirals into a haze of alcohol induced self-pity. The repercussions of the incident lead to an unexpected award and a deep sorrow for Harry as he tracks down an illegal gun import into the country that takes him on the track of neo-nazis and world war II veterans.
The story itself moves back and forth from WWII to the present and the transition is done smoothly and in just the correct amount i.e. it neither overwhelms the narrative nor is too minuscule to become irrelevant. The numerous characters that are introduced to us are etched out in fine detail and apart from some confusion with the names of the two Heads of Department that Harry is working for, and those whose purpose does not become clear till the very end the numbers are not insurmountable. But then confusion and blurring the trail is I believe the essence of a crime novella.
Also, it is a bit of a history lesson showcasing the fickleness of the political classes, who will do anything to save their own skins while pushing the rest of the population, whom they have promised to serve and protect, to complete moral and physical annihilation without any qualms whatsoever.
For the first time since I began to write this blog it seems I am reading a book simultaneously with another blogger at A Little blog of books and other Stuff. There are some points that we both agree on and some not so much. It was fun to write and read a review at almost the same time.
All in all, a good Sunday afternoon read.