Published: July 11, 2019
A man like Harry had better watch his back…
Following the dramatic conclusion of number one bestseller THE THIRST, KNIFE sees Harry Hole waking up with a ferocious hangover, his hands and clothes covered in blood. Not only is Harry about to come face to face with an old, deadly foe, but with his darkest personal challenge yet.
The twelfth installment in Jo Nesbo’s internationally bestselling crime fiction series.
In Knife, translated from the Norwegian by Ned Smith, an eighty year old sexual predator named Svein Finne is at large in Oslo. “Finne’s driving force is to spread his seed and father children,” we learn. “It’s his way of gaining eternal life.” If he fails to impregnate his victims, he casually kills them. If any of the women should have an abortion, he punishes them in vile ways. And if any of them should bring a child to term, “the Fiancé,” as he’s known, appears in the delivery room to “assist” in the birth.
While Finne’s intervention at the hospital is disturbing, it provides this weirdo with an ironclad alibi for the killings being investigated by Harry Hole, the rogue police detective in Nesbo’s bleak Nordic noir series.
Harry is at a low point in his unstable life. He’s drinking much of the time — to the point of sucking up the last drop of whiskey from a filthy floor — and when his wife leaves him, this time for good, he completely falls apart. But this is what readers expect of Harry, whose weaknesses somehow contribute to his manly appeal. And whenever he does fall flat, there always seems to be a good woman around to pick him up.
“He was unshaven, his eyes were bloodshot and he had a liver-colored scar running across one side of his face,” according to one such woman, upon meeting him for the first time. “But even if his face had something of the same brutality as Svein Finne, there was something that softened it, something that made it almost handsome.”
A life-altering murder puts Harry Hole in the spotlight. With his career and credibility at stake, Harry falls into a deep dark abyss of self-destructive behavior. To clear his name, he will risk his life. But if he survives, it will be bittersweet.
I was SHOCKED by the murder and even more shocked when the murderer was revealed. While I was surprised by the identity of the murderer, I realized there were clues galore but I was too caught up in Harry to see what was going on right before my eyes.
Knife is dark and weighty and Harry is at his lowest point, which made this hard to read at times. There isn’t much action, but Harry develops and grows as a character, which I appreciated.
In an unexpected move, Nesbo resolves the business of the psycho fiancé rather early in the story, which necessitates the introduction of another slippery killer, as well as a chilling flashback to a military mission in Afghanistan. There’s an explicit description of that reliable old method of execution, “drawing and quartering,” if that’s your thing, plus many other throwaway delights, including a list of the eight categories of killers, of which No. 8 is “just plain bad and angry.”
Parts are overly detailed and could have been edited down. While I didn’t love the events of Knife, the plot allows for Harry’s character to take a new path. We will have to wait and see if we get drunk, messy Harry or a new Harry Hole in the next book.
It’s been two years since I read a Harry Hole novel and I soaked this one in like a dry sponge! This is truly one of my all time favorite foreig crime fiction series.
I HIGHLY recommend you read this series starting with the first book, The Bat!