Harry Hole, the hero, is one of those people you can't help liking and disliking at the same time. He is an alcoholic, and also a doper. at the start of the book he is hiding in Hong Kong while hooked on opium. He is there because of the emotional impact of his previous case: The Snowman. The love of his life and her son have abandoned him since his involvement in the case led to their involvement and almost tragedy. Now, however, there is another serial killer loose in Norway and the only policeman with a successful record is Harry Hole. In addition there is a turf war going on between Harry's Crime Squad, and Kripos led by the politically astute Mikael Bellman. The prize is the exclusive right to investigate murders. Mikael Bellman appears to be ruthless and will destroy anyone who gets in his way. Harry only returns to Oslo when he discovers that his father is dying. So Harry reluctantly returns and quickly grasps onto leads that the previous investigations have missed. He seems to make progress, however the murders continue. Eventually Harry joins Kripos, as his motivation is not to win but to catch the culprit. His relationship with his father develops in a way that was previously impossible and he recognises finally that he loves his father. This is despite his father entering a coma. after many ups and downs, and apparent solving of the crimes, there is a final confrontation, where the culprit (well I won't ruin the plot).
Harry is a real character who disappoints us in his weaknesses. He has so many things going for him. He is good at his job, he has no problem attracting women and love. Yet the constant yearning for alcohol or drugs is there. His weakness is evident but not totally understandable. We want him to step away from their influence but he is weak.
Here again is a crime story with a great plot and great characters, well worth a read.
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