I was excited to pick up this book given Nesbo’s reputation for dark, gritty narratives. The premise of a serial killer who targets Tinder dates seemed intriguing and relevant to our technology-driven times. However, while there were some strong points, overall I found The Thirst to be a disappointing read that didn’t live up to the potential of its creepy setup.
|Genre||Crime, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller|
|Publication Date||May 9, 2017|
Where to Purchase
The Plot Falls Short
The basic plot follows Oslo police detective Harry Hole as he investigates a string of grisly murders perpetrated against women the killer has met through Tinder. I liked the commentary on modern dating apps and social media, which provided an original backdrop for the crimes. However, the storyline itself felt thin and repetitive. The murders, while certainly gruesome, lacked narrative weight and significance. I wanted to see deeper themes, character development, and worldbuilding beyond just the takedown of another serial killer. But the broader insights and nuance never materialized.
Disjointed Pacing and Confusing Perspectives
One of the biggest issues with The Thirst was its disjointed pacing and unclear narrative perspective. The timeline jumped around frequently, and it often took me several paragraphs to situate myself in place and time. The large cast of secondary characters who alternated as POV characters also became confusing. Besides Harry Hole, the voices and perspectives blended together without distinct personalities. I wished Nesbo had stuck to a tighter third person limited narration just following Hole. The tension and suspense was diluted across too many ambiguous characters and chronology.
Harry Hole Falls Flat as Lead Protagonist
My biggest complaint about The Thirst was Harry Hole himself, who simply did not deliver as a compelling lead protagonist. As a veteran detective with a personal history of alcoholism and tragedy, he had potential to be layered and flawed. But throughout this book, Hole came across as flat and reactive. I didn’t get much insight into his inner turmoil or personal stakes beyond solving the case. The secondary characters, including Hole’s lover Rakel and co-worker Katrine, were far more interesting and dynamic. Hole lacked the intrigue, magnetism, and depth of personality that a strong detective protagonist needs to drive the plot.
Some Visceral Horror Elements
One area where I think Nesbo succeeded was in crafting some truly horrific and visceral murder scenes. It is certainly not for the squeamish! I did feel a sense of dread and revulsion as the killer enacted his bloody rituals. If you love creepy, skin-crawling horror, these moments will satisfy. Personally, I preferred the sections focused on the detective work and chase. But horror fans will surely appreciate Nesbo’s willingness to indulge in graphic violence.
In Sum: Great Premise Wasted
To summarize, while I found the premise behind The Thirst intriguing, the execution fell short for me. The social media-driven murders offered an ominous, modern hook. But the plot and characters failed to fully capitalize, with too many disconnected threads and perspectives. Harry Hole was the biggest disappointment, lacking the charisma and depth to carry the story as its hero. While the gruesome killings provided some chilling moments, The Thirst ultimately felt like a missed chance to develop a truly gripping and thoughtful crime novel. I may give the earlier books in the series a try, but this one just didn’t leave me thirsty for more of Harry Hole and his world.