Sean Barrett on being the voice of Harry Hole

Long-time narrator of the Harry Hole audiobooks Sean Barrett on why he loves Jo Nesbo’s bestselling crime series.

I first encountered Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole in February 2010. A maverick but brilliant detective with a drink problem, and a difficult relationship with the woman he loves. So, what’s new?

Well, this guy was somehow different: interesting, witty, likeable. Plus he dealt with some pretty hair-raising homicide cases. That first book I narrated was The Snowman. I remember coming out of the studio in an Oxford Business Park where we’d been recording – the last ones to leave the building. I was about to make my way to the station to catch my train back to London, but my producer Catherine asked me to hang on until she’d set the alarm and locked up; she didn’t want to be left on her own to do it. That’s the effect The Snowman was having on her. So I gallantly waited while she put the alarm on and turned the key. Then she hopped on her bike and pedalled furiously off into the night, leaving me to make my way down to the dimly lit river towpath. And just a little further on the lights of a pub beckoned. But, unlike Harry, I did not go in.

That level of suspense has continued through to the twelfth Harry Hole book, Knife, recorded in London, where the river Thames is wider and everything is brightly lit. But the book is as alarming as ever. Harry has sobered up, his personal life sorted out, he wears a suit, lectures at the Police College, but of course it can’t stay that way. Not with a title like Knife.  It’s brilliant, with one massive surprise near the end, but I should say no more about that…

The other thing I love about the series is that, between books one and twelve, are the locations. Harry occasionally leaves the police and travels to the Far East, and the first book in the series, The Bat, is set in Australia where Harry has been seconded to assist the local force in hunting down a serial killer. In this book, apart from the perpetrator, sharks play a part – not something Harry has to deal with in Norway! But wherever Harry has gone, for this reader and thousands of others, the journey has been enthralling. I don’t know what the future holds in store, will there be a (lucky) Book 13?

Knife, the phenomenal twelfth instalment in the Harry Hole series, is out now.

Listen to clips of Sean Barrett reading Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series below



BY Tom