Monday, June 1, 2015

Harry Hole Struggles agains Two very Clever Killers


Reviewed by James L. Thane
Four out of five stars

This is another excellent, complex thriller from Jo Nesbo, featuring his tormented protagonist, Oslo homicide detective Harry Hole. This story continues a number of developments that were set into motion in the last Hole novel, Nemesis, when someone close to Harry was murdered. Harry knows who the killer is but cannot produce the evidence to make the case and it appears that the killer is going to go unpunished.

The effect on Harry is brutal. As the book opens, he has descended into an alcoholic haze and has alienated virtually everyone around him, including his lover and his most ardent defender on the police force. He is constantly drunk, barely able to function and only days away from losing his job.

Harry hits rock bottom in the middle of a sweltering summer in Oslo, when many of the other detectives are on holiday attempting to escape the heat. Then a woman if found ritually murdered in her apartment and, short-handed, Harry's boss has no choice other than to assign Harry to the case, even though Harry is clearly impaired. To make matters worse, Harry is assigned to work the case in tandem with another detective whom he hates.

Harry assumes that this is the last case he will ever work and so pulls himself together, at least enough to make an effort. Five days after the initial murder, a second woman goes missing and seems clearly to be the victim of the same killer. What follows is an intellectual duel between Harry and a very clever adversary. Clearly there is a method to the killer's madness; the only question is whether Harry can figure it out in time to save other potential victims.

This is a very tense and gripping story. The case itself is fascinating, and even more interesting is the psychological drama that plays out as Harry battles to control his own demons and to set right injustices that have occurred outside the boundaries of the case he is investigating at the moment. In Harry Hole, Jo Nesbo has created one of the most intriguing characters to come along in crime fiction in quite some time, and it's a pleasure to watch both Nesbo and Harry work their magic.

An Amazing Little Man

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End SlaveryAmazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Amazing Grace is a biography written with WAAAY more cheek than I expected!

The slight and frail English gentleman William Wilberforce...


...was the heroic and eloquent man at the head of the push to abolish the slave trade.

Wilberforce is a name not well known in America as perhaps it may be in England. Right or wrong, we Americans think "Lincoln" when we think of the end of slavery. Of course, slavery continues to this day. Eric Metaxas' Amazing Grace does an admirable job in reminding us who deserves the credit in passing the laws that put an end to the legalized trade in human lives.

It is a noble subject, but Metaxas actually uses sarcasm and like humor nearly through out and, while funny at times, it's off-putting in a biography. Perhaps he felt the subject matter needed levity. Perhaps he looked to capture Wilberforce's own gay sense of humor. Whatever the reason, it didn't always set well with this reader.

From the title it should be readily apparent that religion (in this case Methodism) will be given a feature role. While not a puritanical prude from start to finish, Wilberforce was heavily influenced by his faith and let it guide him in many of his life's choices. From the book's tone, I would guess Metaxas is, if not Methodist, at least a like-minded Christian. He writes with an obvious bias. It's almost completely transparent at times with very little reading between the lines necessary. That swamps integrity in my book. However, when it comes to non-fiction, for some reason biographers are often allowed a long leash when it comes to balanced, fair and honest journalism.

At heart, I would call the above faults, but I managed to overlook them and if you too can stomach an agenda not your own, then Amazing Grace will ring in your heart the chimes of glorious freedom! Or at least it will be a worthy read on a worthy man. Either way, it's worth your while.


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