Who is Harry Hole?

Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole novels are complex, ambitious constructions where suspenseful and fast-paced crime plots reflect our globalized modern world. Although Oslo is the background for Nesbø’s stories, the nature of contemporary crime pitches Harry against challenges in such remote corners of the world as Australia and Thailand, which lend the novels a truly international feel. However the key to Jo Nesbø’s international success, at least in part, lies in his highly original, yet utterly believable protagonist, Detective Harry Hole. A cult figure already after the first book, Hole is a genuine anti-hero; an impossible character yet impossible not to like. According to his superiors, Harry is both the most competent detective of the Oslo Police and the worst civil servant. A periodic binge drinker seriously opposed to any type of authority, Hole roams the streets of Oslo like a lone ranger, doling out justice his way. At times suspended and generally considered a nuisance by his employers, Harry is nevertheless in some sense revered by his colleagues, for he is a good cop whose high moral standards and pronounced sense of justice often lead him in the right direction. In his personal life, however, his famous ‘inner compass’ seems to have broken down completely. Harry is tormented by the complicated relationship with Rakel, the single mother whom he fell in love with in The Redbreast and who has since walked into and out of his life at regular intervals due to Harry’s workaholic and alcoholic tendencies. He cannot let go of the woman who has proved to be the love of his life. And the feelings are mutual. Although Rakel has other relationships, she always returns to Harry; the two of them cannot seem to live without each other, nor with each other, though that is perhaps what they both desire. Harry has also developed a close relationship with Rakel’s son Oleg, for whom he has become a tough father figure. Like Harry’s little sister Sis, Oleg brings light to Harry’s existence, and life, at times in the series, really does seems to come together for Inspector Hole. But all too often, Jim Beam barges in and turns everything upside down.

In the nine stories to date, the reader is taken along on a fantastic journey through the ever-expanding literary universe of this fascinating character. Like all truly important crime writers, Jo Nesbø combines refined, complex plotting, high voltage suspense and brilliant characterization with profound ethical discussions, often using updated biblical narratives to mirror contemporary society. Thus the crime novels of Jo Nesbø become challenging investigations into questions of betrayal, faith and revenge, while providing first-rate entertainment for the crime fiction lover.

Said about Harry Hole

“Harry [Hole] is pleasingly human, with a capacity for hard, grueling work being one of his best features”
Kirkus Reviews (US)

“[Harry Hole] is a more violent maverick than most examples of that familiar crime-fiction type, and he’s an alcoholic. He’s also a brilliant detective, prone to bursts of intuitive recollection, and appreciative of unusual talents in others. And he pulls off feats of physical and intellectual derring-do that would have a movie star winking and smiling at the camera, only Harry Hole almost never smiles.”
Philadelphia Inquirer (US)

“Hole is, as they would say on The Wire (the best rendering of urban America ever), good police: He smokes cigarettes, drinks with abandon, and doggedly investigates any and all cases that come under his purview. He has the makings of a Norwegian Jimmy McNulty
The Morning News (US)

“Hole is arguably one of today’s most fascinating fictional detectives.”
Publishers Weekly (US)

“Harry is one of the best lone-wolf cops for the 21st century”
Library Journal (US)

“Hole, while sharing characteristics with so many similarly melancholic modern cops (including of course, Mankell’s Kurt Wallander), carves a place of distinction for himself in a crowded field.”
Booklist (US)

“No matter what language you read, get on the Jo Nesbø crime patrol and see why the world loves Harry Hole.”
Madison County Herald (US)

“If you’re a fan of crime fiction, Harry Hole’s your man.”
Arizona Republic (US)

“Harry Hole is completely convincing as a policeman, drunkard and a lonely man.”
The Daily Telegraph (UK)

“TV Pitch: Hole and The Wire’s Jimmy McNulty were separated at birth.”
Entertainment Weekly (US)

“Harry Hole offers a wonderful variation on the lone-wolf investigator”
The Dallas Morning News (US)

“Harry Hole, a police inspector who seems to be a cross between Connelly’s Harry Bosch and another Scandinavian character, Hamlet
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (US)

“Hole is a flawed but compelling character.”
The Chronicle Herald (Canada)

“Hole is all a fictional detective should be”
The Literary Supplement (UK)

“Jo Nesbo has created the perfect police detective. Probably the best of recent times. Just as honorable as flawed. A lone wolf, full of edge and defect. Extremely authentic. [Harry Hole] recognizes himself in all the misery around him. He doesn’t laugh at ghost stories, because he believes in them. He doesn’t believe in photographs, because he knows that they have a destructive effect on the ability to forget. He is a hero to the core with a dream of a life that he knows he will never reach, perhaps because his misfortune is that he’s better at coping with ghosts and demons than with human beings.”
El Mundo (Spain)

“[Harry] Hole has for each book developed to become one of the most interesting and diverse heroes of contemporary crime literature…”
Sydsvenska Dagbladet (Sweden)