Warning: contains major spoilers!
I found this weak as a mystery and overly bloated. It had some glaring problems with racism (two magical negroes, the murderer is a Black man who kills and rapes blonde women in retribution for white people’s treatment of Aboriginal people) and female representation (the two female characters are the victim and the love interest and they both end up murdered by a man). The translation was patchy, too.
Its saving graces are an engaging narration and the wide array of topics the author seems to be genuinely interested in – I appreciate it when there’s some meat to the generic skeleton of a murder mystery, especially if I can learn something new from it.
The mystery was weak IMO because the original murder never amounted to anything in the process of investigation – we never learn who Inger Holter, the victim, was, there’s barely any investigation into her background, friends, living situation to understand why she was chosen, and in the end, she was chosen solely based on her hair colour and chance. That felt disappointing, because the line of investigation picked up at the start of the book was just basically abandoned by the middle. The motive (racial revenge) was overly dramatic and the process of investigation and then the pursuit was ridden with annoying holes that disrupt any enjoyment one might have from following it – for example, when they were fretting about how they could mask their cutting off electricity and thus tipping Toowoomba off that they were after him because it deleted his computer answering machine message, instead of asking the phone company to cut everyone off for a full day, they could have asked the electricity company for a 5-minute outage which would explain why his self-made alarm system wasn’t working.
I’ve been told this isn’t the best Harry Hole though so I’m thinking I’ll try The Snowman, for example, and see if it’s better suited to my thriller tastes.