Jealousy Man and Other Stories
by Nesbo, Jo; Ferguson, Robert (TRN)






The New York Times bestselling master of suspense presents this unique and unnerving collection of stories rife with insatiable greed, devious lovers and heartrending fate.





JO NESBō is a musician, songwriter, economist, and #1 New York Times best-selling author. He has won the Raymond Chandler Award for Lifetime Achievement as well as many other awards. His books have sold 45 million copies worldwide and have been translated into fifty languages. His Harry Hole novels include The Redeemer, The Snowman, The Leopard, Phantom, and most recently Knife, and he is also the author of The Son, Headhunters, Macbeth, and several children's books. He lives in Oslo.





In his first short-story collection, NesbÝ, author of the bestselling Harry Hole series, showcases the key ingredients that distinguish his novels: devilishly constructed plots in which the flashes of human feeling exhibited by deeply flawed characters are in continual danger of being snuffed out by the darkness within. So it is in these 12 stories, which track the soul-killing effects of either jealousy (the first seven stories) or power (the final five). Some, including the exceptional title story, about a Greek cop with a preternatural knack for detecting jealousy as a motive for murder, run to nearly novella length but never feel like undernourished novels in search of another 200 pages. Whether a story hinges on a shocking twist (the Hitchcockian chiller London), on a character's gradual recognition of where his demons have led him (Trash), or on the world-building necessary to construct a post-pandemic dystopia in which our most repressed hungers run rampant (Rat Island), NesbÝ unveils his deeply unsettling revelations at the perfect tempo. These aren't easy stories to read one after another, so readers may want to think about their own tempo. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.





On leave from his Harry Hole novels, NesbÝ delivers stories ranging from dystopian visions to time-honored tales of duplicity and revenge. Few of NesbÝ's characters pass the decency test. A man's kindliness toward a sobbing woman seated next to him on a flight to London masks dark intentions. An assassin with a day job in Milan as a psychologist is himself marked for death by a sadistic hit man of greater repute. In San SebastiŠn, an ardent proponent of the multiverse is suspected of killing one of his "other" selves. An Austrian researcher hiding out in Spanish Sahara devises a formula for immortality to save his ailing wife only to fight off corporate types who will do anything to take possession of it. The estranged son of a billionaire thinks twice about saving his father from a deadly snakebite in Botswana. NesbÝ is at his best in the long, wonderfully atmospheric title story, which shows off his gift for pulling one story out of another. Summoned to the Greek island of Kalymnos to investigate the possible murder of a man by the man's twin brother, Athens detective Nikos Balli-who specializes in sniffing out jealousy as a motive-ends up detecting an old friend's ill intentions during a mountain-climbing outing. NesbÝ is less successful with "Rat Island," a baggy pandemic tale in which marauding bikers tear down the last vestiges of civilization while rich people plan their futures from the safety of a skyscraper. This story and others seem hastily drawn, and the author has a tendency to be too clever for his own good-the twistiest twists can arrive with a soft thud. But he never runs out of ideas or characters driven by inner thoughts. Humanity is at low ebb in this enjoyable, if uneven, collection-NesbÝ's first. Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.





PART ONE
Jealousy

LONDON

I'M NOT AFRAID OF FLYING.†The chances of dying in a plane crash for the average frequent flyer are one in eleven million. To put it another way: your chances of dying of a heart attack in your seat are eight times higher.

I waited until the plane took off and levelled out before leaning to one side and in a low and hopefully reassuring voice passed this statistic on to the sobbing, shaking woman in the window seat.

'But of course, statistics don't mean much when you're afraid,' I added. 'I say this because I know exactly how you feel.'

You-who until now had been staring fixedly out of the window-turned slowly and looked at me-as though you had only now discovered someone was sitting in the seat next to yours. The thing about business class is that the extra centimetres between the seats mean that with a slight effort of concentration it's possible to persuade yourself that you are alone. And there is a common understanding between business-class passengers that one should not break this illusion by exchanging any-thing beyond brief courtesies and any practical matters that have to be†dealt with ('Is it OK if I pull down the blind?'). And since the extra space in the footwells makes it possible to pass each other if needing to use the toilet, the overhead lockers and so on without requiring a coordinated operation, it is, in practice, quite possible to ignore one another com-pletely, even on a flight that lasts half a day.

From the expression on your face I gathered that you were mildly surprised at my having broken the first rule of travelling business class. Something about the effortless elegance of your outfit-trousers and a pullover in colours which I wasn't completely convinced were matching but which do so nevertheless, I guess because of the person who is wearing them-told me that it was quite a while since you had travelled economy class, if indeed you had ever done so. And yet you had been crying, so wasn't it actually you who had broken through that implied wall? On the other hand, you had done your crying turned away from me, clearly showing that this wasn't something you wanted to share with your fellow passengers.

Well, not to have offered a few words of comfort would have been bordering on the cold, so I could only hope that you would understand the dilemma facing me.

Your face was pale and tear-stained, but still remarkable, with a kind of elvish beauty. Or was it actually the pallor and the tear stains that made you so beautiful? I have always had a weakness for the vulnerable and sensitive. I offered you the serviette the stewardess had placed under our tumblers of water before take-off.

'Thank you,' you said, taking the serviette. You managed a smile and pressed the serviette against the mascara running down under one eye. 'But I don't believe it.' Then you turned back to the window, pressed your forehead against the Plexiglas as though to hide yourself, and again the sobs shook your body. You don't believe what? That I know how you're feeling? Whatever, I had done my bit and from here on, of course, made up my mind to leave you in peace. I intended to watch half a film and then try to sleep, even though I reckoned I would get an hour at most, I rarely manage to sleep, no matter how long the flight, and especially†when I know I need to sleep. I would be spending only six hours in London, and then it was back to New York.

The Fasten your seat belt light went off and a stewardess came up, refreshed the empty glasses that stood on the broad, solid armrest between us. Before take-off the captain had informed us that tonight's flight from New York to London would take five hours and ten minutes. Some of those around us had already lowered their seatbacks and wrapped blankets around themselves, others sat with faces lit by the video screens in front of them and waited for their meal. Both I and the woman next to me had said no thanks when the stewardess came round with the menu before take-off. I had been pleased to find a film in the Classics section-Strangers on a Train-and was about to put my headphones on when I heard your voice:

'It's my husband.'

Still holding the headphones in my hands I turned to her.

The mascara had stopped running and now outlined your eyes like stage make-up. 'He's cheating on me with my best friend.'

I don't know whether you realised yourself that it was strange to be still referring to this person as your best friend, but I couldn't see that it was any of my business to point it out to you.

'I'm sorry,' I said instead. 'I didn't intend to pry...'

'Don't apologise, it's nice when someone cares. Far too few do. We're so terrified of anything upsetting and sad.'

'You're right there,' I said, unsure whether to put the headphones aside or not.

'I expect they're in bed with each other right now,' you said. 'Robert's always horny. And Melissa too. They're fucking each other between my silk sheets right at this very moment.'

My brain at once conjured up a picture of a married couple in their thirties. He earned the money, a lot of money, and you got to choose the bedlinen. Our brains are expert at formulating stereotypes. Now and then they're wrong. Now and then they're right.

'That must be terrible,' I said, trying not to sound too dramatic.

'I just want to die,' you said. 'So you're mistaken about the plane. I hope it does crash.'

'But I've got so much still left to do,' I said, putting a worried look on my face.

For a moment you just stared at me. Maybe it was a bad joke, or at the very least bad timing, and under the circumstances maybe too flippant. After all, you had just said you wanted to die, and had even given me a credible reason for saying it. The joke could be taken either as inappropri-ate and insensitive or as a liberating distraction from the undeniable bleakness of the moment. Comic relief, as people call it. At least when it works. Whatever, I regretted the remark, and was actually holding my breath. And then you smiled. Just a tiny wavelet on a slushy puddle, gone in the same instant; but I breathed out again.

'Relax,' you said quietly. 'I'm the only one who's going to die.'

I looked quizzically at you, but you avoided my eyes, instead looked past me and into the cabin.

'There's a baby over there on the second row,' you said. 'A baby in business class that might be crying all night; what d'you think of that?'

'What is there to think?'

'You could say that the parents should understand that people who have paid extra to sit here do so because they need the sleep. Maybe they're going straight to work, or they have a meeting first thing in the morning.'

'Well, maybe. But as long as the airline doesn't ban babies in business class then you can't really expect parents not to take advantage.'

'Then the airline should be punished for tricking us.' You dabbed carefully under the other eye, having exchanged the serviette I had handed you for a Kleenex of your own. 'The business-class adverts show pictures of the passengers blissfully sleeping.'

'In the long run the company'll get its just deserts. We don't like paying for something we don't get.'

'But why do they do it?'

'The parents or the airline?'

'I understand the parents do it because they've got more money than they have shame. But surely the airline has to be losing money if their business-class offer is being degraded?'

'But it'll also damage their reputation if they get publicly shamed for not being child-friendly.'

'The child doesn't give a damn if it's crying in business or economy class.'

'You're right, I meant for not being parent-of-small-child-friendly.' I smiled. 'The airlines are probably worried it'll look like a kind of apart-heid. Of course, the problem could be solved if anyone crying in the business section was made to sit in the economy section and had to give up their seat to a smiling, easy-going person with a cheap ticket.'

Your laughter was soft and attractive, and this time it got as far as your eyes. It's easy to think-and I did think-that it's incomprehen-sible how anyone could be unfaithful to a woman as beautiful as you, but that's how it is: it isn't about external beauty. Nor inner beauty either.






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