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Harry Hole; An Alcoholic Police Detective Worth Your Love

Posted Aug 21 2009 12:38pm

images-2 I am a therapist in part, because I love people’s stories. It is an honor to be an intimate part of someones life struggles. This desire carries over into my theatre choices and my reading. I’ve discovered that mysteries written by writers from other countries tend to delve deeply into character. Another joy of reading foreign authors is that place becomes another finely detailed character. Reading mysteries chronologically to begin with the first introduction of the character is important. Unfortunately, the USA has not imported the first books by Jo Nesbo. So the series by this Norwegian author begins with The Redbreast. 

The novels center around Harry Hole who is brilliant, idiosyncratic, lovable and a massive alcoholic. My experience of many alcoholics is that this combination of traits is common. So Harry seems very real. I would suggest this series could be helpful to “experience” the process of getting sober and relapsing. The beginning of The Devil’s Star  (the 3rd in the USA) is tough to take because , very realistically, he is willing to lose his job and lovely girlfriend to his first priority the bottle. The author’s official website opens with a glass of whiskey and two ice cubes circling together.

These novels are very psychologically astute. Nemesis  (the 2nd USA book) teaches about the manipulations of personality disorders and gets it right. There are the requisite twists and turns that keep the reader guessing. Harry Hole is so compelling that reading the novels one after another is a delight. This is so true I was willing to pay too much for the fourth that won’t be out until March in the USA.

I think it’s important for those who battle the disease of alcoholism to recognize they are worthwhile and lovable.  I believe these books can be put to use in this cause. It’s also possible that those who are in love with their alcoholic partners, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers will learn something from Harry about not taking things personally, because everything really is all about the self absorbed alcoholic.

It’s also easy to see the enabling by Harry’s boss, who is at his wit’s end by the beginning of the third book and has signed the papers to fire him. He wouldn’t feel so bad about it if he went to a good Al-Anon meeting and learned about his codependency. Jo Nesbo creates a remarkably accurate picture of the self-destructiveness that goes along in part from carrying a huge burden of pain, too large for the alcoholic’s soul. The author also portrays the obsessiveness that makes Harry an excellent detective and hard to live with. Alcohol is certainly a fast release from the grip of obsessiveness. Harry Hole is truly a three dimensional character who is worth your time.

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