Review of “The Devil’s Star” by Jo Nesbo

I went through three phases with this Norwegian police procedural. The beginning seemed slow, and overly detailed. I was considering giving up on it, but several friends loved it, so I kept going.

Then I noticed – a bit wearily – the usual detective story tropes coming on in force: the ritual killing of women; the drunken, disliked, almost-washed-up-but-talented detective who only gets assigned the case because no one else is there when it comes in; the suave, popular, too-good-to-be-true detective; the stolid, reliable forensics female … haven’t I read this before?

And then, boom! The roller coaster ride starts! And wow, what a ride! I was on the edge of my chair for quite a long time with this one! The characters become much more richly drawn as well as the book progresses. And how cleverly the various plot strands weave in and out of the story in unexpected ways, so that the ending is in perfect symmetry with the beginning!

Evaluation: Am I in love with this euro-noir writer and his dissolute Detective Harry Hole? Absolutely! Was this a so utterly gripping I felt like stashing it away until I could calm down? Totally! Will I be reading the next Jo Nesbo book? I sure hope so!

Rating: 4/5

Published by Vintage, 2006

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25 Responses to Review of “The Devil’s Star” by Jo Nesbo

  1. Sandy says:

    I’ve never heard of the term freezer book, but I like it! Yes, you have heard all of that typical detective stuff before, probably a hundred times, but the fact that it pulled out of the stall and delivered is exciting. I’ve had it on my list, and the only reason I haven’t gotten it yet is because it isn’t available (yet) on audio. Waiting patiently for April 1st.

  2. I haven’t read this one, but the next book Snowman sounds really good. Glad u ended up enjoying it.

  3. Doret says:

    I read Nesbo’s upcoming novel and thought it was great. I am always recommanding him now.

  4. Ti says:

    I have everyone at work reading Nesbo now. They love him, too!

    There is just something about Euro crime fiction that appeals to me.

    Is Jim going to read it? I’m surprised you didn’t mention the new word you learned while reading it.

  5. zibilee says:

    Oh,oh,oh! I love it when a book pulls out of a tailspin and ends up really delivering the goods! Based on the first half of your review, I was thinking that there is no way I would be trying this one for myself, as it sounded so boilerplate, but reading about your reactions to the second half, I am more than a little thrilled about this book. Glad that you were rewarded! I will be looking into this one!

  6. Steph says:

    Sounds fun! I have a love-hate relationship with these Nordic crime novels… They can be a lot of fun, but they do all seem to have shared elements (like the ritual women killing and excessive details) that I find slightly baffling and grating. Still, I feel like they’re good diversions and always wind up pulling me in in the end. I’ve been hearing more and more about this author so I’ll have to keep an eye out for anything by him.

  7. I’ve just not been drawn into any of the Nordic crime novels. My husband likes Wallander, my book club loves Stieg Larrson, and I’ve heard good things about this one but I just can’t work up an interest. Maybe someday, I always tend to come late to the party on certain books.

  8. bermudaonion says:

    Wow, I’ll have to remember that this one starts out a little slow. It sounds like a heartstopper.

  9. Alyce says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed it! These types of books are a bit too intense for me though. 🙂

  10. Julie P. says:

    Absolutely loved this book. So glad you discovered it!

  11. Jenny says:

    I almost never get far enough into procedural-type mysteries for them to grab me — I am so, so squeamish. Reading about yucky autopsy stuff freaks me out.

  12. Staci says:

    Yippee!!! I’m so glad that you enjoyed this one!! I’m going to be back for more of his books too!!!! Fill us in on the new word you learned???!! 😀

  13. I think I bought a copy of this some months back, but haven’t read it yet (imagine that)….must dig through the piles of books and find it…..

  14. I am a big fan of Scandinavian crime fiction, in fact I like almost everyone I have read, so I really must check this one out.

  15. Wallace says:

    So after I saw this on Ti’s blog I went to look for it and it is apparently part of a series. Did you feel like you knew enough about what was happening although you hadn’t read any of the other books (which aren’t available here in the U.S.)?

    • I absolutely felt like I knew enough to read it. On the other hand, I often felt lost with Three Seconds, the other hot new Scandinavian thriller. With this one, I didn’t even know it was part of a series until I was done with it!

  16. Lisa says:

    Holy smokes…I was just certain that you were going to say that Ti and Stacy were crazy, that clearly they haven’t read enough detective novels and so were not able to recognize the stereotypes. This must be amazing to take you over that hump and on that roller coaster ride!

  17. Jenners says:

    It sounds like the reading experience did mirror riding on a rollercoaster … the long slow ride up and then you take off.

  18. stacybuckeye says:

    Your evaluation made me smile 🙂

  19. Ceri says:

    Wow, what a turnaround that sounds like. I love books that do that. 😀

    I do love the cover too.

  20. fenny says:

    Whilst I really enjoyed this plot, I found it had too many characters all with very similar Nordic names, and I started to struggle to keep up with who was who, I found myself more confused than amused for large parts of the book and checking the bottom of the kindle and groaning when I realised I was only half way through I think is never a good sign!

    On the kindle version there are a couple of editing errors, where lines drop out and one duplicates, but on the whole, it was a good story, it still gripped me, but felt like hard work to see it through to the end rather than a complete pleasure.

    On a completely personal note too, I really struggled with the ‘foreign’ letters in characters names, not knowing how to actually pronounce them, it interrupted my flow of reading until I gave in and pronounced them in an English way, which just didn’t feel quite natural, however I do fully appreciate that was just my own ignorance.

    • I know what you mean; it can be very difficult getting to know names and places when reading a book from a different culture, and it does affect one’s enjoyment of the book if one can’t come up with a technique to resolve it!

  21. Rural View says:

    When you like a book this much, I absolutely must read it. Thanks for the review.

  22. Pingback: Book Review: The Devil’s Star « ReviewsbyLola's Blog

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