Friday, 26 March 2010
Falling in love with a detective
Have you ever fallen in love with a literary creation? Had a character who suddenly came to life in your mind, and you find yourself thinking about them long after you've finished the book?
I don't mean that I hold conversations with the character! I mean, more like, this character has come alive for me. He has come out of the story, and I see him in my mind's eye, and I want to know more about him. Has that ever happened to you?
He's Harry Hole, the detective featured in Jo Nesbo's Norwegian detective series beginning with The Redbreast, and continuing through Nemesis, The Devil's Star, and The Redeemer. The latest one, The Snowman, has just been released here in Canada.
First of all I must give a lovely thank you to Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise. It was her review she gave of The Redeemer that brought Jo Nesbo to my attention. She gives reviews for all four books, which is when I realized I was really interested in this series. Yes, it took me six months to find The Redbreast! And oh, I am so glad I did. Because Harry Hole is a detective that over the course of the first book, I found myself falling ever so slowly in love with. In the back of my mind I saw him as I saw John Rebus of the Ian Rankin mysteries, middle-aged, about to retire, trying to ignore authority and drinking when not on the job. I deeply admire John Rebus and secretly hope many of our police forces have detectives like him. Harry, though, Harry is in his mid-thirties. Blonde. And a drunk. He's also got very good instincts and like the best detective characters in fiction, is willing to go against his bosses to follow what only he thinks is a trail.
I know it's shallow of me, but when I saw that description of him as tall and blonde, I swear my heart went thump! and then a most terrible crime is committed in the middle of the book, that left me crying out, actually crying so hard that I had to put the book down. I can't tell you more as it's a key plot point for the series, but it broke my heart. And when I picked the book up again and saw that it broke Harry's heart too, that is when I fell completely in love with him. Yes, I love Harry Hole. And so, even though I am in the midst of the Once Upon a Time Challenge, I have bought The Devil's Star already and am panicking because I can't find Nemesis and I must return to Harry and his story quickly!
I know, I didn't think that as I approached middle age, I could still fall for a pair of blue eyes and a slightly morose character, but apparently I will never be immune to this habit. I hope it never fades! Long live my love affair with books!
Hmm, I can see the more serious mystery readers among you wondering when I'll get to the mystery: Yes, my dear Gentle Readers, The Redbreast rated 4/5 for me. I found the plot a little confusing, and sorting who the killer is and names of the characters had me flipping back to check different sections. It's not the writing, nor the translation. It's because the mystery itself is based on something that happened during WW2, that we also witness, that is having repercussions now, and Harry has to sort through other people's memories and stories to find the truth. It's a very good mystery, that is resolved very satisfyingly. It has a most chilling killer, a most awful betrayal, and the prettiest love interest in a while.......I really enjoyed the premise of this story, and the various characters, especially Harry's budding romance (and no, I don't hate her! I'm happy he's happy!). I love the set-up at his police station, the various officers he has to contend with, and I really enjoyed the history of WW 2 from a Norwegian perspective, which I have only a very rudimentary knowledge of. Most of all, this mystery is about people, and what they will do to survive in the most extreme of situations. What makes people go on?
At Detectives Beyond Borders book blog, Peter Rozovsky has a two part interview with Jo Nesbo about Harry and the books so far; Part one and Part two. It was here that I learned that it's Harry""Heuleh" not 'Hole' pronounciation, and that Harry is a mock term for country bumpkin. And lots of other things, including that Norway thinks of itself somewhat in the same terms with its neighbor Sweden as we do here in Canada with the US. By the way, the translation by Don Bartlett is so good that I forgot I was reading a translated book. It read like it had been written in English. It is excellent.
Just so you know how much I like *have a book crush* on Harry Hole, I much prefer him and this book to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which I reviewed here last year. Hmm, I see even though I gave it 5/5 it didn't make it on my books of the year list!! How can I prefer a book I give 4/5 to one that's 5/5? Easy. The further I am away from The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, the more I am aware that it's a story written at a very fast pace, that allows us to miss certain plot holes that now that I'm farther away, I have more difficulties with. I can also barely remember Mikael the hero, whereas Harry - well, we all know about Harry now! I think the difference is that if I don't read the sequel to Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, I wouldn't be dreadfully upset - I want to read it, but it's not important that I do. Whereas it's really important for me to keep reading the Harry Hole series. I must know what happens next, and to him.
So my dear Gentle Readers, have you ever fallen in love with a character? who makes you read every book featuring them?