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Nemesis    by Jo Nesbo Amazon.com order for
Nemesis
by Jo NesbÝ
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Nemesis (translated by Don Bartlett), the first of Jo NesbÝ's mysteries I have read, has left me very keen to seek out more. Though the personal life of his hero, Crime Squad Police Detective Harry Hole, reminded me most of Michael Connelly's angst-ridden Harry Bosch, NesbÝ's wheels-within-wheels plotting is even more subtle and intricate than in a typical Bosch book.

Harry Hole, haunted by the murder of his partner and close friend, Ellen Gjelten, has had alcohol problems since then and insists on keeping Ellen's case open. He's suspicious of the involvement of tough Inspector Tom Waaler who shot a neo-Nazi suspect in the case. Now, as Nemesis opens, a robber kills an attractive female teller, Stine Grette, in an Oslo bank, seemingly because his instructions on timing were not precisely executed. Harry Hole, whose lover Rakel is away in Russia fighting a custody case with the father of her son Oleg, replays the videos from the bank cameras over and over again, analysing details and 'chasing ghosts'. He wonders why Stine said 'It's my fault' to the robber before she was shot.

Harry's investigation of the bank robbery - and those that follow - is assisted by an intriguing new wunderkind detective, young Beate Lonn (daughter of a legendary police officer), who has an unusual talent - she 'can remember all the faces she has seen in her life.' As the case proceeds, Harry's artist ex-girlfriend, Anna Bethsen, returns to Oslo and presses him to join her for dinner - he accepts reluctantly and awakens the morning after with no memories of their evening together. Which is unfortunate because Anna died that same evening. Though a colleague tags it as suicide, Harry believes it's murder. He hides his own involvement with Anna and investigates her death. Then he starts to receive emails from someone who knows that he was with Anna the night she was shot.

The robbery investigation leads Harry to a prison interview of Macchiavellian gypsy bank robber, Raskol Baxhet, who was never caught but gave himself up to the authorities. Raskol, who turns out to be Anna's uncle, both threatens and aids Harry, who eventually realizes that he should have had a longer spoon before supping with this devil. After a detour to Brazil, Harry ends up a murder suspect on the run from his own department (led by an aggressive Tom Waaler), while still attempting to investigate himself.

While I can second guess most mysteries to some extent, Nemesis fooled me all the way. This highly recommended tale of 'revenge and retribution' is such that, once finished, readers will want to start at the beginning and read it all over again to catch all the many nuances.

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