Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo **possible spoilers ahead**

Nesbo's third Harry Hole book, first of them to be translated into English, starts off with an American President's visit to Norway and Hole's blunder that needs to be covered up by those higher up.

This faux pas cover up involves Hole being transferred to another section in the police force and being given a 'promotion' by name alone - to begin with - where he ends up monitoring the activities of neo-Nazi groups. It is here where he starts to piece together not-so-random pieces of a case that takes the reader back to WWII and one of the groups of pro-Nazi, Norwegian soldiers that were fighting on the eastern front.

This case does the traditional 'Nordic Noir' thing that I'm quite sure every policeman in Scandinavia dreads the idea of and reveals twist after twist until it's no longer a skin-head surveillance case but one that is complicated, decade spanning and needs the detective to rely more on gut instinct than anything. On top of that it branches out into a different case that's only slightly related to it - those poor policemen!

To begin with this book does skip between present day and the 1940s, which I usually find hard to keep up with, but after about halfway through the book this does stop. The history and the light it paints the young soldiers at the time in (not all were necessarily fascist sympathisers, some were hungry, non-political country boys) is rather interesting and thought provoking and not something I recall reading before. Even so, I was still rather happy when the flashbacks ended.

The turning point for the book and the reader is about halfway in when you realise that there's something rather more malevolent than normal hiding between the lines, this was the moment I found myself eager to pick the book up and try to figure it out for myself - unfortunately (or fortunately) Nesbo is far better than I am and there's a reason he's a celebrated crime-writer and I'm not - I just didn't figure it all out until the last few pages, as intended.

The character of Harry Hole himself seems to stick to the cliche of an embittered, loner detective that fights his flaws throughout the book - but I actually rather enjoyed him. As damaged as he is, and becomes, you still feel like giving the occasional cheer for him and his dark humour does add to the whole atmosphere.

This is a rather enjoyable read and I'm glad that I bought the next few in the series, but the intensity means I may take breaks between each book. Now if only the first two Harry Hole books had been translated - there are still some unanswered questions!

1 comment:

Pradeep said...

I recently completed this book. I enjoyed reading it, but am still unclear about one of the murders committed by the 'old man'. Can you explain why the old woman was killed after she was kidnapped and taken to a particular spot in Austria? I must have been going too fast at the climax, so I missed any explanations that may have been given.

I am also intending to take a break before approaching the next in the series and am quiet pleased that Nesbo continues to expand the series.