The Thirst
by Jo Nesbo
Harvill Secker

After Jo Nesbo topped international bestseller lists with his grisly mysteries solved by Harry Hole, he ditched the police detective at the height of his fame, and busied himself with standalone works, albeit massively successful ones such as Headhunters (2011). The Thirst signals Hole’s return, less with a bang than a groan of the sort ageing men make as they lift themselves from the sofa. Retired, and lecturing part-time at Oslo University, Harry is not alone in believing that his most vigorous days are behind him. Cue a case made to measure. A woman is killed after a date organised on Tinder. The kicker is that she has been savagely bitten and drained of blood. Is it the work of a vampire or someone so desperate to appear vampiric that he smears a “V” near the body? Chief of police Mikael Bellman enlists Harry’s help, which seems wise when a second, then a third and a fourth victim is chewed up and spat out. Nesbo is as readable as always, even if the “horror denture” genre was better conveyed by Thomas Harris in Red Dragon (1981) and James Ellroy in The Big Nowhere (1988).