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Nemesis (Harry Hole Series #4)
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Nemesis (Harry Hole Series #4)

3.9 154
by Jo Nesbo, Don Bartlett (Translator)

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“Nesbø’s storytelling abilities are incomparable. Nemesis is crime novel as art form and great entertainment.”

USA Today


The #1 international bestseller from one of the most celebrated crime writers in Europe, Jo Nesbø’s extraordinary thriller Nemesis features Norwegian homicide


“Nesbø’s storytelling abilities are incomparable. Nemesis is crime novel as art form and great entertainment.”

USA Today


The #1 international bestseller from one of the most celebrated crime writers in Europe, Jo Nesbø’s extraordinary thriller Nemesis features Norwegian homicide detective Harry Hole, “the next in the long line of great noir crime detectives,” (San Diego Union-Tribune) in a case as dark and chilling as an Oslo winter’s night. The second Harry Hole novel to be released in America—following the critically acclaimed publication of The RedbirdNemesis is a superb and surprising nail-biter that places Jo Nesbø in the company of Lawrence Block, Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, and other top masters of crime fiction. Nesbø has already received the Glass Key Award and the Booksellers’ Prize, Norway’s most prestigious literary awards. Nemesis is proof that there are certainly more honors in this extraordinary writer's future.

Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly
“Nesbø has a knack for Euro noir.”
New York Times Book Review
“The dense plot is supremely detailed. . . . A crisp, clean translation. . . . Satisfying.”
“High tension, lightning pace, a flawed but ultimately sympathetic protagonist: NEMESIS has it all.”
Seattle Times
“Assured, complex, and evocative.”
Arizona Republic
“It’s a good bet that if this is the first Harry Hole novel you read, you’ll never miss another. . . . It’s complex but so well written. . . . If you’re a fan of crime fiction, Harry Hole’s your man.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Nesbo returns with another novel that is every bit the multitextured, complexly plotted, psychologically rich thriller that made Redbreast such an unqualified success. . . . No doubt about it: Nesbo belongs on every crime-fiction fan’s A-list.”
Madison County Herald
“No matter what language you read, get on the Jo Nesbo crime patrol and see why the world loves Harry Hole.”
Publishers Weekly

When a bank teller is shot during a holdup at the start of Norwegian bestseller Nesbø's beautifully executed heist drama, Oslo Insp. Harry Hole investigates, along with Beate Lønn, a young detective with the ability to remember every face she's ever seen. Meanwhile, Harry receives a call from Anna Bethsen, a woman he hasn't seen in years. After he meets Anna, recovering alcoholic Harry awakens the next morning with a hangover and the news that Anna is dead, apparently by her own hand. While Harry quietly looks into Anna's death, he and Beate uncover ties in their bank robbery case to one of Norway's most notorious bank robbers, who's currently in prison. The deeper Harry digs, the clearer it becomes that Anna's death is linked to the robbery. Expertly weaving plot lines from Hole's last outing to feature the inspector, The Redbreast(2007), Nesbø delivers a lush crime saga that will leave U.S. readers clamoring for the next installment. (Jan.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Norwegian Detective Harry Hole (introduced in Redbreast) has managed to drag himself out of his alcoholic stupor in time to save his relationship with girlfriend Rachel and his fellow cops. He's gotten sober just in time: first, a cashier is killed in a bank robbery, but Harry is sure it was an intended murder; then, he has dinner with an old flame only to black out and wake up the next morning to the news of her death. With the help of Beate Lonn, a new officer in robbery with a gift for recognizing faces, he runs his own investigations, tracing leads all the way to Brazil and Egypt. Nesbø offers up another top-notch mystery thriller, thickly layered, perfectly plotted, and briskly paced to keep readers hooked. With ties to events in Redbreast, this is an excellent sequel, but it doesn't stand well on its own. Recommended for all fiction collections and essential for Scandinavian crime lovers. [This is actually the third in the series; the second, The Devil's Star, has not yet been published here.-Ed.]
—Jessica E. Moyer

"Nesbo returns with another novel that is every bit the multitextured, complexly plotted, psychologically rich thriller that made Redbreast such an unqualified success. . . . No doubt about it: Nesbo belongs on every crime-fiction fan’s A-list."

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Harry Hole Series , #4
Product dimensions:
9.26(w) x 6.14(h) x 1.48(d)

Read an Excerpt

Part I

The Plan
I’m going to die. And it makes no sense. That wasn’t the plan, not my plan, anyway. I may have been heading this way all the time without realising. It wasn’t my plan. My plan was better. My plan made sense.

I’m staring down the muzzle of a gun and I know that’s where it will come from. The messenger of death. The ferryman. Time for a last laugh. If you can see light at the end of the tunnel, it may be a spit of flame. Time for a last tear. We could have turned this life into something good, you and I. If we had followed the plan. One last thought. Everyone asks what the meaning of life is, but no one asks about the meaning of death.

The Astronaut
The old man reminded Harry of an astronaut. The comical short steps, the stiff movements, the dead, black eyes and the shoes shuffling along the parquet floor. As if he were frightened to lose contact with the ground and float away into space.

Harry looked at the clock on the white wall above the exit. 15.16. Outside the window, in Bogstadveien, the Friday crowds hurry past. The low October sun is reflected in the wing mirror of a car driving away in the rush hour.

Harry concentrated on the old man. Hat plus elegant grey overcoat in dire need of a clean. Beneath it: tweed jacket, tie and worn grey trousers with a needle-sharp crease. Polished shoes, down at the heel. One of those pensioners of whom Majorstuen seems to be full. This wasn’t conjecture. Harry knew that August Schulz was eighty-one years old and an ex-clothes retailer who had lived all his life in Majorstuen, apart from a period he spent inAuschwitz during the War. And the stiff knees were the result of a fall from a Ringveien footbridge which he used on his daily visits to his daughter. The impression of a mechanical doll was reinforced by the fact that his arms were bent perpendicularly at the elbow and thrust forward. A brown walking stick hung over his right forearm and his left hand gripped a bank giro he was holding out for the short-haired young man at position number 2. Harry couldn’t see the face of the cashier, but he knew he was staring at the old man with a mixture of sympathy and irritation.

It was 15.17 now, and finally it was August Schulz’s turn.

Stine Grette sat at position number 1, counting out 730 Norwegian kroner for a boy in a blue woollen hat who had just given her a money order. The diamond on the ring finger of her left hand glistened as she placed each note on the counter.

Harry couldn’t see, but he knew that in front of position number 3 there was a woman with a pram, which she was rocking, probably to distract herself, as the child was asleep. The woman was waiting to be served by fru Brænne, who was loudly explaining to a man on the telephone that he couldn’t charge someone else’s account unless the account holder had signed an agreement to that effect. She also informed him that she worked in the bank, and he didn’t, so on that note perhaps they should bring the discussion to a close.

At that moment the door opened and two men, one tall, the other short, wearing the same overalls, strode into the bank. Stine Grette looked up. Harry checked his watch and began to count. The men ran over to the corner where Stine was sitting. The tall man moved as if he were stepping over puddles, while the little one had the rolling gait of someone who has acquired more muscle than he can accommodate. The boy in the blue hat turned slowly and began to walk towards the exit, so preoccupied with counting money that he didn’t see the two men.

‘Hello,’ the tall man said to Stine, banging down a black case on the counter. The little one pushed his reflector sunglasses in place, walked forward and deposited an identical case beside it. ‘Money!’ he said in a high-pitched squeak. ‘Open the door!’

It was like pressing the pause button: all movement in the bank froze. The only indication that time hadn’t stood still was the traffic outside the window. And the second hand on the clock, which now showed that ten seconds had passed. Stine pressed a button under her desk. There was a hum of electronics, and the little man pressed the counter door against the wall with his knee.

‘Who’s got the key?’ he asked. ‘Quick, we haven’t got all day!’

‘Helge!’ Stine shouted over her shoulder.

‘What?’ The voice came from inside the open door of the only office in the bank.

‘We’ve got visitors, Helge!’

A man with a bow tie and reading glasses appeared.

‘These gentlemen want you to open the ATM, Helge,’ Stine said.

Helge Klementsen stared vacantly at the two men dressed in overalls, who were now on his side of the counter. The tall one glanced nervously at the front door while the little one had his eyes fixed on the branch manager.

‘Oh, right. Of course,’ Helge gasped, as if he had just remembered a missed appointment, and burst into a peal of frenetic laughter.

Harry didn’t move a muscle; he simply let his eyes absorb every detail of their movements and gestures. Twenty-five seconds. He continued to look at the clock above the door, but from the corner of his eye he could see the branch manager unlocking the ATM from the inside, taking out two oblong metal dispensers and handing them over to the two men. The whole thing took place at high speed and in silence. Fifty seconds.

‘These are for you, pop!’ The little man had taken two similar metal dispensers from his case and held them out for Helge. The branch manager swallowed, nodded, took them and slotted them into the ATM.

‘Have a good weekend!’ the little one said, straightening his back and grabbing the case. One and a half minutes.

‘Not so fast,’ Helge said.

The little one stiffened.

Harry sucked in his cheeks and tried to concentrate.

‘The receipt . . .’ Helge said.

For one protracted moment the two men stared at the small, grey-haired branch manager. Then the little one began to laugh. Loud, reedy laughter with a piercing, hysterical overtone, the way people on speed laugh. ‘You don’t think we were going to leave here without a signature, do you? Hand over two million without a receipt!’

‘Well,’ Helge said. ‘One of you almost forgot last week.’

‘There are so many new bods on deliveries at the moment,’ the little one said, as he and Helge signed and exchanged yellow and pink forms.

Harry waited for the front door to close again before looking at the clock once more. Two minutes and ten seconds.

Through the glass in the door he could see the white Nordea security van drive away.
Conversations between the people in the bank resumed. Harry didn’t need to count, but he still did. Seven. Three behind the counter and four in front, including the baby and the man in overalls who had just come in and was standing by the table in the middle of the room, writing his account number on a payment slip. Harry knew it was for Sunshine Tours.

‘Good afternoon,’ August Schulz said and began to shuffle in the direction of the front door.
The time was exactly 15.21.10, and that was the moment the whole thing started.

When the door opened, Harry saw Stine Grette’s head bob up from her papers and drop down. Then she raised her head again, slowly this time. Harry’s attention moved to the front door. The man who had come in had already pulled down the zip of his boiler suit and whipped out a black-and-olive-green AG3. A navy blue balaclava completely covered his face, apart from his eyes. Harry started to count from zero.

The balaclava began to move where the mouth would have been, like a Bigfoot doll: ‘This is a hold-up. Nobody move!’

He hadn’t raised his voice, but in the small, compact bank building it was as if a cannon had gone off. Harry studied Stine. Above the distant drone of traffic he could hear the smooth click of greased metal as the man cocked the gun. Her left shoulder sank, almost imperceptibly.

Brave girl, Harry thought. Or maybe just frightened out of her wits. Aune, the psychology lecturer at Oslo Police College, had told them that when people are frightened enough they stop thinking and act the way they have been programmed. Most bank employees press the silent robbery alarm almost in shock, Aune maintained, citing post-robbery debriefings where many could not remember whether they had activated the alarm or not. They had been on autopilot. In just the same way as a bank robber has programmed himself to shoot anyone trying to stop him, Aune said. The more frightened the bank robber is, the less chance anyone has of making him change his mind. Harry was rigid as he tried to fix on the bank robber’s eyes. Blue.

The robber unhitched a black holdall and threw it over the counter. The man in black took six paces to the counter door, perched on the top edge and swung his legs over to stand directly behind Stine, who was sitting still with a vacant expression. Good, Harry thought. She knows her instructions; she is not provoking a reaction by staring at the robber.

The man pointed the barrel of the gun at Stine’s neck, leaned forward and whispered in her ear.
She hadn’t panicked yet, but Harry could see Stine’s chest heaving; her fragile frame seemed to be struggling for air under the now very taut white blouse. Fifteen seconds.
She cleared her throat. Once. Twice. Finally her vocal cords came to life:

‘Helge. Keys for the ATM.’ The voice was low and hoarse, com­pletely unrecognisable from the one which had articulated almost the same words three minutes earlier.

Harry couldn’t see him, but he knew that Helge had heard what the robber had said and was already standing in the office doorway.

‘Quick, or else . . .’ Her voice was hardly audible and in the following pause all that could be heard in the bank were the soles of August Schulz’s shoes on the parquet flooring, like a couple of brushes swishing against the drum skin in an immeasurably slow shuffle.

‘. . . he’ll shoot me.’

Harry looked out of the window. There was often a car outside, engine running, but he couldn’t see one. Only a blur of passing cars and people.

‘Helge . . .’ Her voice was imploring.

Come on, Helge, Harry urged. He knew quite a bit about the ageing bank manager, too. Harry knew that he had two standard poodles, a wife and a recently jilted pregnant daughter waiting for him at home. They had packed and were ready to drive to their mountain chalet as soon as Helge returned. At precisely this moment Helge felt he was submerged in water, in the kind of dream where all your movements slow down however much you try to hurry. Then he came into Harry’s field of vision. The bank robber had swung Stine’s chair round so that he was behind her, but now faced Helge. Like a frightened child who has to feed a horse, Helge stood back and held out the bunch of keys, his arm stretched to the limit. The masked man whispered in Stine’s ear as he turned the machine gun on Helge, who took two unsteady steps backwards.

Stine cleared her throat: ‘He says open the ATM and put the money in the black holdall.’

In a daze, Helge stared at the gun pointing at him.

‘You’ve got twenty-five seconds before he shoots. Not you. Me.’

Helge’s mouth opened and closed as though he wanted to say something.

‘Now, Helge,’ Stine said.

Thirty seconds had passed since the hold-up began. August Schulz had almost reached the front door. The branch manager fell to his knees in front of the ATM and contemplated the bunch of keys. There were four of them.

‘Twenty seconds left,’ Stine’s voice rang out.

Majorstuen police station, Harry thought. The patrol cars are on their way. Eight blocks away. Friday rush hour.

With trembling fingers, Helge took one key and inserted it in the lock. It got stuck halfway. He pressed harder.


‘But . . .’ he began.


Helge pulled out the key and tried one of the others. It went in, but wouldn’t turn.

‘My God . . .’

‘Thirteen. Use the one with the bit of green tape, Helge.’

Klementsen stared at the bunch of keys as though seeing them for the first time.


The third key went in. And round. He pulled open the door and turned towards Stine and the man.

‘There is one more lock to open . . .’

‘Nine!’ Stine yelled.

Helge sobbed as he ran his fingers across the jagged edges of the keys, no longer able to see, using the edges as Braille to tell him which key was the right one.


Harry listened carefully. No police sirens yet. August Schulz grasped the handle of the front door.

There was a metallic clunk as the bunch of keys hit the floor.

‘Five,’ Stine whispered.

The door opened and the sounds from the street flooded into the bank. Harry thought he could hear the familiar dying lament in the distance. It rose again. Police sirens. Then the door closed.

‘Two, Helge!’

Harry closed his eyes and counted to two.

‘There we are!’ It was Helge shouting. He had opened the second lock and now he was half-standing, pulling at the jammed dispensers. ‘Let me just get the money out! I–’

He was interrupted by a piercing shriek. Harry peered towards the other end of the bank where a woman stood staring in horror at the motionless bank robber pressing the gun into Stine’s neck. She blinked twice and mutely nodded her head in the direction of the pram as the child’s scream rose in pitch.

Helge almost fell backwards as the first dispenser came free. He pulled over the black holdall. Within six seconds all the money was in. Klementsen zipped up the holdall as instructed and stood by the counter. Everything had been communicated via Stine; her voice sounded surprisingly steady and calm now.

Meet the Author

A musician, songwriter, and economist, Jo Nesbø is also one of Europe’s most acclaimed crime writers, and is the winner of the Glass Key Award, northern Europe’s most prestigious crime-fiction prize, for his first novel featuring Police Detective Harry Hole. Nesbø lives in Oslo.

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Nemesis 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 154 reviews.
Brian_Baker More than 1 year ago
In the tradition of the great European crime novels like "The Laughing Policeman", "Smilla's Sense of Snow" and Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther series, Nesbo continues with his Harry Hole novels in this terrific new entry.

Hole, struggling with his alcoholism as well as his new love relationship and the death of his partner, finds himself caught up in trying to solve a murderous bank robbery while trying to convince his superiors that his partner's death is - contrary to their belief - still unsolved and that he should be allowed to pursue an investigation into it.

This is a compelling entry in the series, with rich characterizations and impeccable plotting.

The only thing that readers should be aware of is that the novels of the series published in English thus far have been translated and published out of sequence; this is actually the second book of the series, though it's come out in English third, and the plot line about his partner's murder was resolved in the third book - which was actually the second (last) one published in English (The Devil's Star)) Did you follow that?

If so, dig in and enjoy.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
This book has gotten some rave reviews and I hate to knock it but I didn't get it. I followed along as Harry Hole (the investigator) tries to deal with his personal life and the work (solving a bank robbery). Maybe, it was the translation from Norwegian that lost me. Everyone else who has reviewed it felt the drama and the suspense of this character driven novel, but I didn't. I read it to the end, but will not pick up Jo Nesbo's next book.
Christine Condry More than 1 year ago
I've seen great reviews for Jo Nesbo, but I couldn't make it through this book. The story never became interesting, and the writing was equally dull, at times nonsensical. A couple scenes left me wondering if years had passed or a few hours. A dog lunges at a man's throat but bites him on the neck instead. What does that even mean? I suspect the translation is at fault, but I wish I hadn't purchased this.
letok More than 1 year ago
Fair, didn't paticularly care for any of the characters. Plot ok, writing ok, initial approach was original
Su73 More than 1 year ago
Easy reading, good plot, surprising characteres (even more if you met some of them at "The Redbreast") and something that I realy like in a mystery book - not easy to find ending :).
MaryKingsley More than 1 year ago
Very interesting characters, but not too much mystery. I am likely to read another by this author.
maudieCO More than 1 year ago
I wecomed another Scandanavian mystery after reading all of Sweden's Henning Mankell.Like Kurt Wallander Jo Nesbo's hero is also depressed with lousey social skills. The fun is getting into their heads and working out the puzzles. lean writing and advancing plotting. No wasted words.
figero More than 1 year ago
Suspensful. Makes you want to read more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Came across this author by accident. I have read 2 of the Harry Hole books so far and have a third on tap. Will more than likely continue to read the series. The author's writing style and story telling runs along smoothly. A decent read if you like crime/detective stories.
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
There have now been several Harry Hole novels, but this was only the second to be published in the United States (the first was "The Redbreast"). Both demonstrate the author's uncanny ability to continually lead the reader astray with one red herring after another before disclosing, in a final twist, a most unexpected dénouement. In the present novel, these principles apply to two separate story lines. One involves a bank robbery in which a woman is shot in the head. The other finds a woman with whom Harry had a short affair shot in her bed the day after Harry had dinner at her home (but he can't remember a thing about the evening). In fact, there are clues implicating him in the deed and in fact, the cover asks the question: "How do you catch a killer when you're the number one suspect?" The translation by Don Bartlett from the Norwegian flows smoothly. The novel was a number one best-seller in Norway, spending 39 weeks on the best seller list. Past novels from this author saw Bangkok and Australia as settings, and the next to Hong Kong – Harry certainly gets around! Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jo Nesbo does an excellent job of writing out a story that is easy to follow and interesting. The thrilling nature of the novel makes you want to keep turning the next page to find out what is going to happen to Detective Hole next. The only downside I have with the book is that the story is well thought out, but the ending seemed somewhat rushed. Overall a very good read! I would recommend to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of the Harry Hole series, this is the best so far. So cleverly written with the three plots intermingled; looking forward to reading the next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Caused by whatever norske name for vodka these new regional writers have really put me off visiting the countries
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CPK37 More than 1 year ago
Like my comments on Series #3, I enjoyed reading about how things are in Sweden, not much different in the USA, but there was so much going back and forth in time, and people, that it was a bit hard to keep up with the story.
Boomer503 More than 1 year ago
I've read the books in order and this one is really hard to follow. So many breaks back and forth without warning from one paragraph to the next and back again. Disjointed and confusing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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boksalars More than 1 year ago
A good mystery keeps me guessing and this one did. Liked the deep thought that went into it. Missed some details because I had not read one of the earlier books in the series.
Dr_Science More than 1 year ago
I'm hooked. I'll be reading all of them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Were a place to want to visit of open face sandwiches midnight sun blond beauties glugg and saunas then running and jumping into a clear lake surrounded by birch trees. even for a dollar does not tempt me page counter
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Author Jo Nesbo has done it again. He has written another entangling book with that likeable, flawed character named Harry Hole. Once again, Harry is surrounded by an interesting cast of individuals, more than a few of who very conceivably have serious addictions or mental health issues. And author Nesbo allows the reader to determine which character belongs in which catagory. Strongly recommend anything written by this author. He has yet to disappoint me. J M Lydon
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