... arguably the best entry yet in the author’s outstanding series ... a number of memorable, well-drawn characters—the good, the bad and the ugly—go about their business in a well-engineered narrative that alternates between at least a dozen points of view ... The moral conundrums in Knife are Dostoevskian, the surprises are breathtaking, the one-liners are amusing and the suspense is unrelenting. This is that rare lengthy book that one wouldn’t want shortened by even a single page.
Who is the darkest of them all?' If there was a crime-fiction magic mirror somewhere, and one were to put this query to it, hoping to determine whose novels were the darkest in mood, in theme, and in the protagonist’s soul, the answer, almost certainly, would be Jo Nesbø. No one knows darkness like Nesbø’s Harry Hole ... may be Nesbø’s best storytelling yet. It’s not just clever; it’s diabolical, and let’s be glad it is, because the corkscrewing plot provides a measure of relief from the pain on view in this uncompromisingly intense and brilliant novel.
... a sharp example of its genre. The pages turn, the violence is brutal, and the characters are well-drawn and mysterious ... Nesbø has a great sense of pacing. Each reveal — did he do it? did she? — is meticulously laid out as he takes readers along for the ride. I never felt like I was ahead of Harry in my deduction. The final whodunit is powerful and leaves Harry — and readers — wondering what's next ... If you're already high on Harry, I suspect Knife will scratch all your itches until the very end, when Nesbø does the only sensible thing an author can do after writing 12 books featuring one character — set you up for book 13.
Details: details of time and place, of everything there is to see and hear, of the inner thoughts of the protagonists, of their psychological quirks and long-suppressed emotional injuries, of the music they listen to for comfort and stimulation. And of the most gruesome aspects of rape and murder. These Jo Nesbo hallmarks lead to a complex and unexpected denouement in which every facet falls into place and seems to have been totally logical and inevitable ... If this all seems incredibly complex, it is, but in context of the narrative, it’s less confusing than it sounds in synopsis. Only occasionally does the author test the limits of the reader’s disbelief.
... dark and deep, a black hole of a story ... the plot becomes most impenetrable. Characters and subplots wind around themselves like thick vines in a primal forest. Little light penetrates the frequently long paragraphs. Strange flora, such as repeated references to Doc Marten shoes and IKEA products snag at the reader. What begins fast paced mystery ends with a seemingly unscripted roll of the dice ... has many actual knives glinting from its many, many pages. There are trails of blood and women rendered helpless before they fall victim to the worst of crimes in the dense prose forest ... Nesbo keeps Nordic mayhem fresh as winter slips to spring. He has not lost his touch for torturing Hole in this, the 12th installment the detective’s ongoing nightmare. Hole just cannot seem to wake up and die right.
Long before the final curtain, most readers will have joined Harry, shut out of the official investigation and marginalized in ever more harrowing ways, in abandoning all hope that he can either close the case or enjoy a moment of peace again ... The darkest hour yet for a detective who pleads, 'The only thing I can do is investigate murders. And drink'—and a remarkable example of how to grow a franchise over the hero’s most vociferous objections.
This is a long novel, heavy with characters, back story and Scandinavian angst, but never feels ponderous. It also manages to keep twisting until the last few pages ... once the novel focuses, about 50 pages in, it never loses its force; the images shift but never blur ... What may be most remarkable is that the alcoholic, sensitive Hole resembles a huge number of post-Raymond Chandler detectives, and Knife – with its wintry landscape and stylish Nordic neighborhoods – has a lot in common with other examples of the genre. And yet, the writing never feels rote, Hole’s inner life is never simple, and the action never becomes predictable. For all the energy and humor in the books, and what at first can seem like extraneous musical references...Nesbo is actually as careful a writer as Hole is a detective ... The novel ends with a fascinating series of shifts and reframings both dramatically satisfying as fiction and – in the real, Norwegian world of crime-fighting in which the novel is set – ethically queasy.
... intricate, inventive, but seriously overstuffed ... An enormous number of characters, backstories, subplots, and themes (such as flaws in the justice system) fill this long book. At times, it feels as if there are far too many balls in the air, though the action does build to a well-orchestrated denouement. The surfeit of plot and detail will surely delight Nesbø’s fans, but may not win him many new readers.