In my last post I suggested that I wanted to explore what all my moody sleuths have in common, as well as what sets them apart, and since I was re-visiting Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series (this time on audio) I decided to take a look at what makes Harry Hole the kind of protagonist that attracts a following, as well as what sets him apart from other series detectives who attract a following.
I’ve made a start, but only just, as I’m working on changes to the blog that should include more frequent updates. More on that later.
This post will begin with a list:
Harry Hole – 5 Negative Traits (that make him so appealing)
1. Harry Hole is another alcoholic detective
There are any number of fictional detectives with alcohol problems, i.e. – Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander, Ian Rankin’s John Rebus, Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder , James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux, etc., but non so consistently and so vividly tortured by his addiction as Harry Hole.
Why is this?
In Nemesis (book 4 in the series), Stig Aune, Oslo police psychologist and one of Harry’s few friends tells him that his alcoholism exerts itself due to “Pangs of guilt.”
Sitting across from him at Schroeder’s, Aune bluntly tells Harry “Some people can only deal with [guilt] by punishing themselves. Like when you go to pieces, Harry. In your case alcohol isn’t a refuge but the ultimate way to punish yourself.’
Author Jo Nesbo, when asked about Harry Hole’s alcoholism, commented: “From the outset I knew that the main character had to have an Achilles heel, an inner demon, to ensure that he not only experiences tension outside, but on the inside, too. And that was to be alcoholism. But I didn’t want the standard, cliché, American hard-boiled detective … with a cool thirst. This had to be uncool thirst with alcoholism as his kryptonite. He is derailed by it.”
And an addiction counselor had this to say:
Harry’s alcoholism demonstrates a remarkably accurate picture of the self-destructiveness that goes along with carrying an enormous burden of guilt and pain, too large for his soul. Harry’s obsessiveness is part of what makes him such a good detective, but it also makes for a man who would be extremely hard to live or work with.
As usual, I have much more to say about this, and about the following, so watch for updates.