Bouncing back from months invested in reading Quicksilver, I’ve just polished off three crime novels in a row: Jo Nesbo’s The Devil’s Star and Birdman and The Treatment by Mo Hayder. All three are based round troubled but brilliant detectives (Harry Hole for Nesbo and Jack Caffrey for Hayder) who are on the trail of various serial killers.
Off the three, Nesbo’s book (translated from the original Norwegian) was by far and away my favourite. It’s a well crafted story and the prose flows smoothly despite being a translation. I would definitely take time to read other books by Nesbo, particularly if he has revealed further twists and turns in the life of Harry Hole.
In contrast, I found the Hayder books much less appealing despite covering similar territory, and I’ve been trying to puzzle out why. I think there are two main reasons why, unlike Nesbo, Hayder hasn’t risen anywhere near the top of my reading list:
- The books are a lot bleaker. If a character is unbalanced at the edge of a precipice there is little chance they will recover their footing. Any branches they grab on the way down are more likely to slowly rip out by the roots than provide any means of escape. Nesbo’s subject material is hardly any nicer but seems a lot less callous
- Nesbo employs a few sleight of hand tricks in his writing, such as chapters that turn out to be from an earlier time frame. However, the reader is given a sense of being slightly ahead of the protagonist, which seems a fair exchange for the fact that he is the one having all the brilliant flashes of insight. Hayder seems to be deliberately confusing the reader, missing vital details when characters are observed and cutting elsewhere just before the hero’s latest insight is revealed.
Anyway, if nothing else, I’m back up to speed on the reading!