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on June 16, 2017
I thoroughly enjoy the intricate plots Nesbo develops in his novels. I'm fascinated by well written mystery. For that reason, I finished the book. But it was a struggle.
I am not interested in reading book after book about how horrible life is for someone cursed with an addiction. Flawed characters can add to the complexity and attraction of a good story but, when overdone, the use of such a strategy interferes and detracts from the story. The author offers nothing new from one book to the next regarding Harry's addiction. Enough already. I read Nesbo's novels because I hoped to enjoy a great mystery.
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on March 12, 2016
What kind of detective is Harry Hole? Harry is taunted by Tom Waller, a corrupt cop whom Harry knows (but cannot yet prove) engineered the death of Harry's partner, Ellen, in the previous novel, Redbreast. Waller tells Harry he has a reputation for drunkenness, unauthorized absences, abuse of authority, insubordination to superiors, and disloyalty to the force. But then Waller says he respects Harry as a professional because he is goal-oriented, smart, creative, has unimpeachable integrity, and, above all, is mentally tough (p. 103-4). Waller makes Harry a dangerous proposition: to join his secret group of cops who dispense vigilante justice to criminals who cannot be proven guilty. Both Hole and Waller are investigating a series of murders in which a five-point Devil's star is left at each scene. There seems to be no connection between the victims, but all the murders eventually point to someone who is innocent but has no alibi. The author has a gift for suspenseful story-telling. A superb and very satisfying sequel to The Redbreast and Nemesis. Harry's last name is pronounced as two syllables (HO-leh) and is the name of an historic Norwegian town with Viking origins.
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on April 16, 2014
A review of The Devil’s Star, by Jo Nesbo

@@@@@ (5 out of 5)

Leave it to Jo Nesbo to link ritual murder, Satanism, police corruption, desperate love affairs, Norwegian geography, alcoholism, sex, diamond smuggling, the German Army in World War II, and obscure forensic discoveries in a single book — and somehow make it all work.

The Devil’s Star, first published in Norwegian in 2003, the fifth of Nesbo’s ten novels in the Inspector Harry Hole series, is a worthy example of the author’s brilliance. There are few his equal writing crime fiction anywhere.

As the story opens, Harry is living his own special brand of hell in an alcoholic haze on almost a daily basis. His absenteeism from the Oslo Police and his stubborn insistence on disobeying regulations almost as a matter of principle are pushing everyone around him to the breaking point. Rakel, the love of Harry’s life, has banished him from her home. His boss, Bjarne Moller (no, not Barney Miller of TV fame), is close to the point where he will refuse to cover up any more for the incorrigible detective. His nemesis, a fellow detective named Tom Waaler, appears to be gathering steam to kill Harry, who believes Waaler is “The Prince,” the head of a large gun-smuggling ring.

Into this bleak and painful time in Harry’s life he is suddenly confronted with two high-profile cases in quick succession: an unattached young woman is found brutally murdered in her apartment, and mere days later another woman, a talented musical comedy star, disappears. Harry plunges into the two investigations with as much energy as he can muster. As so often in Nesbo’s novels, the deeper he digs the greater the mystery becomes — in both cases. Suspects emerge, with and without alibis. Then come additional murders, and more suspects. Is there a connection between the first two cases? A pattern is emerging, but what is the motive?

It’s clear that Harry will triumph in the end — but how? Who is the serial murderer? How will Harry defeat Tom Waaler? How can he possibly manage to reunite with Rakel? On every front in this exceedingly clever thriller, the tension builds from beginning to end.

I’ve previously reviewed The Bat (1997), Cockroaches (1998), The Redbreast (2000), Nemesis (2002), and The Redeemer (2005). This completes my survey of the first six novels in the series. You can be sure I’ll get to the others reasonably soon.
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on August 23, 2017
Another great Harry Hole tale. This was one of the more character introspective novels in this series. I enjoyed it, but I hope the author returns to the less introspective Hole novels we've come to expect. At some point, Hole has to come to grips with his problems or we start losong interest in the character as a loser.
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on October 17, 2017
Harry Hole books are always hard to read but even harder to stop reading.

This one was particularly difficult but I would have hated to have missed it.

It is amazing how a really good writer can take a strange unpleasant story and make it special.
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on June 25, 2017
Terrible. Depressing. Juvenile. Again, awful. Yes, still reading. Gave five stars for the writing and plot. Read first four books. They were great. But please, just shoot Harry Hole. I love the guy but put him out of his misery !!! I do not need to read 400 pages about his alcohol and misery.
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on August 2, 2014
Harry Hole, am I getting sick of that once handsome, now sort of ragged-around-the-edges, often drunken detective on the Norwegian Police force? I am perhaps feeling a bit impatient with Harry but my interest has not flagged. He is so flawed. How can Harry be so brilliant and so self-destructive? Every little setback sends him back to the bottle and that’s where we find him at the beginning of The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbø.

Harry knows now that fellow police officer Tom Waaler is not the upstanding, stable and well-organized detective he pretends to be. Tom and Harry are at the same level on the police force. Tom has plans to advance. Harry has plans to get through the day. Tom would never experience the strong emotions which tear at Harry. He is no tortured soul. I know Harry believes that Tom Waaler is a crooked cop and that he was involved in the death of Harry’s former partner, Ellen, but I don’t think Harry really realizes how cold-blooded the man who thinks of himself as The Prince is.

Harry has no idea how he will prove what he suspects about Tom and luck is not with him until a series of “ritual” murders leads him to the Prague connection from whence come the red diamond pieces of jewelry shaped like 5-pointed stars (devil’s stars or pentagrams).

Can you guess who the serial killer is before Harry finally figures it out. It is, as usual, a toughie. What connects Tom Waaler with the serial killer? Is there a connection? Is Tom the killer?

This tale is not for the fastidious. Nesbø gives us the most graphic and grisly details found in any of his novels so far. Forensics may be elegant in that it solves murders with science, but the evidence that must be analyzed is frequently made up of the bodily substances we avoid contact with; forensic explorations are often disgusting and not for the squeamish.

Of course, murder is also not for the squeamish. My brain enjoyed this episode in the Harry Hole saga, even if I felt inspired to utter the occasional “gross” or “yuck” about any number of the unpalatable details found in this particular Harry Hole adventure. If The Devil’s Star were made into a movie I would have my eyes covered through a few of the most memorable scenes. When all is said and done and the serial killer is caught and Tom “The Prince” Waaler, who may or may not be the serial killer, is dealt with, the novel ends with an interesting twist and a happy surprise.
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on January 30, 2015
Harry is slowly losing it as this novel starts. He has been hunting for the killer of Ellen Djelten, his former partner, for three years and while he strongly suspects fellow detective and police force darling Tom Waaler, he has been unable to dig up the evidence needed. Harry has turned finding Ellen's killer into a quest and it has destroyed his love life and his life on the police force, where superiors are no longer willing to listen to unproven allegations. He has been drinking heavily and his bosses have had enough when a young woman is found dead along with a tiny red star-shaped diamond.
It's summer vacation time with everyone away so Tom is assigned the case, with Harry as his assistant. Working under Tom is sufficient to get Harry to quit the force, but Harry is first and foremost a cop and he wants to nab the killer.
Nesbo's signature plots within plots within plots reach perfection in this tale, where eventually all plots converge for a brutal ending. In this case, given the antagonists, it simply could not be otherwise.
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VINE VOICEon January 29, 2014
A series of deaths have the police playing catch-up in Oslo. The victims don't seem to have any relation to each other that anyone can find, but each has been killed at five o'clock and has had a finger severed. On each body jewelry has been found that contains red star-cut diamonds; the kind of jewels that are called The Devil's Star. In each case a bicycle messenger has been spotted in the vicinity.

Detective Harry Hole is pulled onto the investigative team. Although he only has three weeks left until his dismissal from the police department, he is the best they have and the only one with serial killer experience. He has been dismissed both because of his drinking and because he insists that one of the department's rising stars is in fact a criminal himself and heads up a smuggling ring. Since he refuses to recant his accusations, and since he won't or can't stop the drinking, a decision has been made to release him from the force.

Harry is of two minds about this. While he can't really imagine doing anything else, perhaps it is for the best. When working, all else goes out the window, keeping him from relationships. The horror of what he sees keeps his drinking fueled. But will he be able to keep away from what is central to his life? Can he find the killer before his time as a detective is up?

Jo Nesbo has scored another hit with this latest Harry Hole novel. The reader cannot help but be attracted to Harry in the same way that his friends are, recognizing his essential goodness while repelled by his single-mindedness and determination to drink away his problems. No author can pull the reader into the inside of a murder investigation like Nesbo, or provide as many shocks along the way to a solution. This book is recommended to mystery readers, and to fans of Harry Hole.
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on October 10, 2013
The fifth book in the Harry Hole sequence, The Devil’s Star, is quite simply, a cracker. Fast-paced from beginning to end, it is brutal, unrelenting and always fascinating. I cannot put these Harry Hole books down and know when I pick one up, I am in for long nights and an emotional ride – The Devil’s Star was no different.
The novel commences in a steamy summer in Olso when a young woman’s body is found with a finger severed and a small ruby five-pointed star is secreted in her body. This being a Nesbo novel, it’s inevitable that where there’s one body, others will follow. Soon there’s a trail of brutality and bloodshed that Harry and his team have to try and stop. But this novel isn’t only about bodies in apartments; it’s also about skeletons in closets and Harry’s private and professional life spiralling out of control. In trying to come to grips with the loss of fellow detective, Ellen Gjetlen (who met her death in the brilliant third book, Redbreast), something he feels responsible for, Harry spirals back into alcoholism and the reader recoils and gasps as he stumbles from flashes of brilliance and terrific work to dejection, loss of control and the demon drink. The way Nesbo portrays the thrall of alcoholism, the seductive and terrible allure of the bottle is unlike anything I’ve read before and you ache for Harry but also understand why he gives in to its power.
On top a difficult case, Harry also has to deal with the threat of his colleague, the charismatic and dangerous Tom Waller, whom he suspects of crimes far worse than those he’s encountering as they involve betrayal of the worst kind. Add to that that he’s about to be sacked from the force, and the plot becomes thicker than treacle and just as dark – you never see what’s coming. That’s the beauty of Nesbo’s books, you cannot second guess the story, or predict Harry’s actions.
Though tautly plotted, I found the motivation for the main crime less convincing than usual, and the final scene between Harry and the killer a tiny bit overplayed. Having said that, the enthralling cat and mouse game between Harry and his nemesis that begins the moment you open the book more than compensated for this. Brilliant, the rush towards the climax and how this particular storyline is resolved is breath-taking and utterly believable.
Nesbo would have to be among the finest writing in this style – the anti-hero hero who is more flawed than faultless, clever yet vulnerable and with a heart of gold. Harry is someone who is capable of fixing everyone else’s problems but not his own; who inspires love and often returns it only to discover his greatest love will always triumph and thus ensure his relationships are always doomed. The Norwegian setting (and others) is so beautifully drawn, it too becomes a beguiling yet seedy character to which you long to return, no matter what the reading cost – mostly sleepless nights and eagerness for the next book.
A fabulous addition to a terrific series.
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