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Nemesis Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 5, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Roth continues his string of small, anti–Horatio Alger novels (The Humbling; etc.) with this underwhelming account of Bucky Cantor, the young playground director of the Chancellor Avenue playground in 1944 Newark. When a polio outbreak ravages the kids at the playground, Bucky, a hero to the boys, becomes spooked and gives in to the wishes of his fiancée, who wants him to take a job at the Pocono summer camp where she works. But this being a Roth novel, Bucky can't hide from his fate. Fast-forward to 1971, when Arnie Mesnikoff, the subtle narrator and one of the boys from Chancellor, runs into Bucky, now a shambles, and hears the rest of his story of piercing if needless guilt, bad luck, and poor decisions. Unfortunately, Bucky's too simple a character to drive the novel, and the traits that make him a good playground director--not very bright, quite polite, beloved, straight thinking--make him a lackluster protagonist. For Roth, it's surprisingly timid.
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*Starred Review* The fourth in the great and undiminished Roth’s recent cycle of short novels follows Everyman (2006), Indignation (2008), and The Humbug (2009), and as exceptional as those novels are, this latest in the series far exceeds its predecessors in both emotion and intellect. In general terms, the novel is a staggering visit to a time and place when a monumental health crisis dominated the way people led their day-to-day lives. Newark, New Jersey, in the early 1940s (a common setting for this author) experienced, as the war in Europe was looking better for the Allies, a scare as deadly as warfare. The city has been hit by an epidemic of polio. Of course, at that time, how the disease spread and its cure were unknown. The city is in a panic, with residents so suspicious of other individuals and ethnic groups that emotions quickly escalate into hostility and even rage. Our hero, and he proves truly heroic, is Bucky Canter, playground director in the Jewish neighborhood of Newark. As the summer progresses, Bucky sees more and more of his teenage charges succumb to the disease. When an opportunity presents itself to leave the city for work in a Catskills summer camp, Bucky is torn between personal safety and personal duty. What happens is heartbreaking, but the joy of having met Bucky redeems any residual sadness. --Brad Hooper
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Top Customer Reviews
I clearly did everything the wrong way - but you know what? It simply did not matter. I read "The Snowman" first, learned about Harry Hole's life in the future, and then went back to his earlier life here in "Nemesis." NO PROBLEM! "Nemesis" starts off with an Oslo bank robbery gone bad resulting in a bank employee's execution. It is all caught on tape. Oslo detective Hole is brought in to work with the robbery team due to his homicide experience. The homicide team is led by Tom Waaler, really Hole's nemesis. Hole can't work well with others - he is just not wired that way. He lacks personal communication skills, is grumpy, and is an alcoholic. Ordinarily I like my heros to be good and my villians to be bad. Despite all of Harry Hole's flaws (which make him real and human), Harry is a hero you can root for. Harry is dealing with the death of his former police partner (and has an urgent need, desire, to investigate the crime but has not been given authority to do so by his superiors), and is dealing with the drama of events involving his girlfriend and her son (her ex is trying to get custody of the boy, and he has some nasty connections that will be hard to compete with). But despite all of the drama, Harry is an excellent detective and he knows how to do his job. Harry ends up working with Beate Lønn, a young female criminalist, who specializes in analyzing video and has the rare special talent of being able to remember every face she has ever seen. Together they are a very unusual and likable team.
To add to everything else that is going on, a personal side drama involving a short-lived relationship with a former girlfriend takes place that potentially will destroy Harry for good - working on the two crimes simultaneously (the bank robbery spree and the crime drama involving the former girlfriend), many twists and turns (including Beate Lønn's own side drama) and departmental drama - makes "Nemesis" a psychologically rich thriller that should satisfy most crime police procedural lovers including Larson fans.
I just bought "the Devil's Star" yesterday and started it reading it - I am 7% of the way through and am thoroughly enjoying it (going forward to the third in the series following "Nemesis" - then I will go back and read "the Redbreast").
All of them have been great reads. The beginnings have a lot of detail, but soon
the pieces fall together and the twists and turns of the story start and continue to the end.
All this time we are learning more about the people in the stories and their complexities.
Thanks Jo Nesbo for writing this entertaining series.
Joe Nesbo concludes the novel in his typical O. Henry - like fashion by providing the unexpected twist. He is a master at roping the reader into a false conclusion. He also sets the stage for a battle between Harry and a fellow member of the police force, known to the underworld as "The Prince."
I have read a few of Nesbos books and so far enjoyed them all. If you like gritty crime novels you will like this one.