My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The trope of the tortured, alcoholic, obsessed homicide cop with a dark and terrible secret in his past has become so familiar as to elicit eye-rolling when I come across it again. But Jo Nesbo's first Harry Hole novel (although not the first released in the US) manages to rise above cliche. Harry is sent from the Oslo crime squad to sunny Australia to investigate the rape and murder of a Norwegian expatriate who was once a minor celebrity back home. There he encounters an Aboriginal police detective, a cross-dressing clown, and a winsome Swedish barmaid, among other interesting characters. Once revealed, the villain proves suitably chill-inducing, Harry battles the bottle as much as the killer, and all in all, it's a satisfying read. I've only read one other Hole novel, The Redbreast, which was frankly better than this. But this is still pretty good. Recommended.
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