Police: A Harry Hole Novel Summary & Study Guide

Jo Nesbo
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Police: A Harry Hole Novel Summary & Study Guide Description

Police: A Harry Hole Novel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Police: A Harry Hole Novel by Jo Nesbo.

The following version of this book was used to create the guide: Jo Nesbø, Police. Trans. Don Bartlett. Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

This Harry Hole crime novel, the tenth in the series by Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø, breaks with its formulaic pattern in that Harry has disappeared from the scene after being severely wounded in a shootout in the previous novel. In his absence, his former special investigation unit tackles a much publicized sequence of police murders. In the first two cases, police officers return to crime scenes of cases they tried but failed to solve. In both cases the initial victims were young girls who were raped and murdered. In the second of the rape cases, the victim was also carved up into body parts. A third police murder is almost identical to a previously unsolved police murder. Public pressure increases daily in Norway's news media.

Another thread of action involves the story of Valentin Gjersten, aka Paul Stavnes, who is associated with the rapes of young girls as well as the dismemberment of his victims. He has done time in the unsavory Ila Prison where he was feared by one and all for playing ugly tricks on anyone who got close to him. According to prison records, he died in prison, but according to one of the inmates, he escaped and is now on the loose.

Police department politics and corruption play a role when the ambitious new Police Chief Mikael Bellman and Isabelle Skøyen team up to manipulate the drug trade in Oslo. Mikael's childhood friend Truls Bernsten, who doubles as Bellman's henchman, takes care of any problems that crop up. Bellman tries to control police investigations so that they do not uncover something that he wants to remain hidden. The reigning drug kingpin, Rudolf Asayev, lies in a coma in a special wing of the Rikshospital where he is under 24-hour police guard. Mikael and his accomplice Isabelle want to make sure he never regains consciousness.

Jo Nesbø creates a plot composed of these and other story lines that he weaves together so that crimes, clues, and characters overlap. The reader is hard pressed to keep up with all the developments as they occur. Nesbø builds suspense by withholding the appearance of the now (retired) legendary hero until more than halfway through the book. By then the bodies, body parts, clues, and suspects have piled up to the point that members of his former special investigation team, desperate for help, pay him a visit at the Police College where he lectures with a former policeman Arnold Folkestad.

Harry has promised the woman he loves, Rakel Fauke, that he will stop working as a police inspector because he becomes monomaniacally obsessed when he is solving a crime. He resists the pleas of his special unit as long as he can, until the grisly murder of Forensics Head Beate Lønn, Harry's best friend on the force. Harry's unit is impressive. Beate could recognize any face she had seen once, even if the face had dramatically changed. Another member of Harry's team, Katrin Bratt, can track patterns and locate anybody with her special search engines. Bjørn Holm is a forensic scientist and Ståle Aune is a consulting police psychologist.

This action-packed mystery keeps the reader trying to solve the crimes, hurrying to reach the end of the book where everything will be explained. The overriding theme of the novel is the need to rectify injustice. Perhaps that is the meaning of the title: the police do the best they can and succeed occasionally in achieving some satisfying kind of justice for victims of crime and their families, but the process of catching criminals is a pretty messy job. In fact, the book ends with a twist that implies a crime in the making, a cliffhanger that will keep the reader on the lookout for more Harry Hole crime novels.

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