Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo police is an alcoholic who's trying to stay on the wagon. That's hard for the detective, who tends to follow his own rules and infuriate his bosses. In this book Harry gets involved with two investigations: a bank heist that left a woman employee dead; and the alleged suicide of a young woman.
To investigate the bank robbery Harry and his partner Beate Lønn - who can remember every face she's ever seen - study CCTV tapes of the holdup. These provide clues that lead to a convoluted probe of various suspects. Things become even more confused when the bank robberies continue after the ring leader is identified. Are copy cats at work?
Meanwhile, Harry's girlfriend, Rakel, is in Russia for a custody battle.....so the detective accepts a dinner invitation from an old flame named Anna. Against his better judgement Harry succumbs to various kinds temptation - and wakes up in his bed the next day with no memory of the night before. Worse yet, Anna is found dead in her apartment.
Harry is assigned to Anna's case and - though it's being called a suicide - the detective is sure she was murdered. Harry's in a tricky position though: he has to investigate the killing without admitting he knew Anna....or he risks becoming a suspect himself. Things get even harder when Harry starts to get threatening emails from the real killer.
The book has a complex plot involving foreign travel, bank robbers, gypsies, unfaithful spouses, drug addicts, prison inmates, a rich executive, corrupt cops, and more. The underlying theme of the book is nemesis - getting revenge for perceived wrongs. And some of the characters have long discussions about the military strategies of Sun Tsu, author of the 'The Art of War.' There's a bit too much of this for my taste, and the story slows down in places.
By the time I finished the book my head was spinning with the twists and turns. Good story, recommended to mystery readers - especially fans of Scandinavian suspense novels.
FYI: I listened to the audio version of this book, narrated by Norwegian Thor Knai. To me it sounds like the author's name is pronounced 'Joe Nesba' and the main character's moniker is 'Harry Hula.'