In The Devil’s Star, Jo Nesbo spins a complicated and wonderfully engrossing narrative of a serial killer prowling the streets of Oslo in another extraordinary Harry Hole book. The Criminal Division is called in to conduct an investigation after a woman is discovered slain in his apartment.
The team, led by Tom Waaler, soon finds that the victim has lost a finger and that a crimson diamond, shaped like the devil’s star pentagram, has appeared behind her eyelid. Harry Hole, still stinging from the reprimand and fear of firing for falsely charging Waaler of arms smuggling and the murder of at least three persons who can identify him, refuses to take part in the inquiry despite these intriguing developments.
The crew tosses about the theory that a serial killer might be at large as other ladies show up bearing the identical pentagram diamond. Norway is a small country with little experience with serial killings, but Hole is knowledgeable and able to provide insight into the case.
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The Chief Inspector is gone and chooses to set aside his resentment and help with the investigation, giving Hole a reprieve from the waiting termination papers. Pentagrams are discovered by Hole in close proximity to the killings during his revisitation of the crime scenes, which amply supports their significance to the case.
Hole is resolved to strengthen his bond with Rakel, his lover, and create a closer bond with Oleg, Rakel’s kid, while doing his investigation. This works to some extent in the beginning, but as things settle down, Hole is pulled away by the job.
A personal disclosure made by Hole could help identify the murderer and help identify scenes from the past and future. Waaler approaches Hole to join his illicit smuggling network as he rushes to solve the case, confident that Hole’s image as a drunk will thwart any efforts to reveal Waaler’s true intentions.
In an attempt to absolve Waaler of any culpability, Hole is required to complete an initiation exam after a suspect is placed under arrest. How will this serial killer even be apprehended and will Harry be able to take down the smuggling ring? The fifth installment of the Harry Hole series is enjoyable, as Nesbø brings the plot to a dramatic finish.
I once heard that every Hole book gets better, and I haven’t yet seen any evidence to refute that claim. The characters have multiple roles to play in the complex plots, which effectively build multiple tales. Subplots and main storylines progress simultaneously, and Harry Hole appears in numerous of them.
If only for a moment, the Hole persona is something to behold. Hole, an acknowledged alcoholic who has little desire to give up his addiction, can easily work through the fog and solve cases by putting out hypotheses and character defects.
As Hole moves from one extreme to the other in each of the novels, the reader is compelled to revel in the transformation that takes place right before their eyes.
Notably, Hole gets tempted by a lot of women in his day-to-day interactions, but he typically manages to recall the passion he has for Rakel, despite the pressure of matters making development extremely challenging.
Nesbø skillfully closes out this trilogy inside the wider Hole series, providing a quick look into the mind of Oslo’s best investigator.
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