The capital of Norway is beautifully situated at the Oslofjord, surrounded by green hills and mountains. Oslo was founded at the end of the Viking Age and today it is the economic and governmental center and the most populous city of Norway. It is considered one of the safest cities in Europe, but is still used as a backdrop for many Norwegian crime fiction stories.
The authors Anne Holt, Samuel Bjørk, Kjell Ola Dahl and Thomas Enger have all written suspenseful novels and long series set in the city of Oslo. They use the city streets, the parks, and the tourist attractions as well as the dark corners, the shady bars and the surrounding forests to create realistic backgrounds, but the Norwegian author who really has put Oslo on the crime fiction map is the successful Jo Nesbø. His protagonist as well as many of the other fictional detectives have their working-places at the well-known Police HQ in Grønlandsleiret 44:
Harry Hole, the captivating anti-hero created by Jo Nesbø, and the main character in twelve novels so far, is without a doubt the most famous Norwegian detective. Harry works at the Police HQ in Grønland, but the investigations takes him to many places all over the city. If you visit Oslo you may easily follow in Harry’s footsteps and discover some of the crime scenes, addresses and pubs mentioned in the books.
Harry has his apartment in Sofies gate 5, and in walking distance you will find his second home, the local hangout Restaurang Schröder, which is described countless times throughout the Harry Hole series. Harry has his regular table farthest in beside the window, where there is enough light to read the newspaper.
“That didn´t bother Harry; he could find the way between Sofies gate and Schrøder´s in the pitch dark. He had done it many times.” (Nemesis)
The Royal Palace and the Palace Gardens with the statue of king Karl Johan on his horse constitute important elements in the plot of The Redbreast, which is a good starting point for reading the Harry Hole series.
”On the hill he stopped for a breather, in front of the statue of Karl Johan astride his horse, staring dreamily down towards the Storting and the power he had tried to have moved to the Palace behind him.” (The Redbreast)
The medieval Akershus Fortress has a very strategical location by the Oslofjord, and has withstood a number of sieges throughout the ages. It has also been used as a military base, a royal residence and a prison – and Jo Nesbø chooses to stage a crime scene at the old castle:
”Presumably she had been scared out of her wits. One of the guards at Akershus Fortress had found her.” (The Redbreast)
“But what about all the other clues he had given them? They hadn´t even managed to connect the great betrayal with the execution at Akershus Fortress. Perhaps it would dawn on them the next time the cannons were fired on the ramparts.” (The Redbreast)
If you visit Oslo you will probably pass the Eger square at the top of Karl Johans gate (Oslo main street) more than once. In the novel The Redeemer the square is used as the backdrop to a murder, when Christmas shoppers are stopped in their tracks, a shot rings, and a young Salvation Army officer drops dead.
”Harry instinctively shrank. Egertorget. This small, open square was an intersection between pedestrian streets in the heart f Oslo…” (The Redeemer)
The opening scene of the novel The Devil´s Star takes place at Number 15 Ullevålsveien, just opposite the large and beautiful but weird Our Saviour´s Cemetary, where many famous Norwegians are buried.
”It was cooler at the other end of the flat facing Ullevålsveien, but Vibeke didn´t like the view from there. Our Saviour´s Cemetery. Crowded with famous people. Famous dead people.” (The Devil´s Star)
”Harry took the shortcut through Our Saviour´s Cemetary. The rain was dripping from the trees.” (The Devil´s Star)
Holmenkollen is the hill you see on the north western side of Oslo. It is both a residential area, where Harry´s on-and-off girlfriend Rakel lives, and a ski recreation area with its famous ski jumping hill, where the final scenes of The Snowman takes place.
”It took three minutes to drive from Rakel´s house to Holmenkollen ski jump. … ”
“The slope looked like a frozen white water-fall that plunged down between the stands and broadened into a flat out-run a hundred metres below …”
“’How do you know he´s here?’ Hagen asked.
’Because he told me he would be,’ Harry said.” (The Snowman)