BOOK REVIEW: THE REDBREAST


AUTHOR: JO NESBO

Harry knows he shouldn’t get involved.


A report of a rare and unusual gun – a type favoured by assassins – being smuggled into the country sparks Detective Harry Hole’s interest. 

Evil is closer to home than he knows.

Then a former WW2 Nazi sympathizer is found with his throat cut. Next, someone close to Harry is murdered. Why had she been trying to reach Harry on the night she was killed?

As Harry’s investigation unfolds, it becomes clear that the killer is hell-bent on serving his own justice. And while the link between the cases remains a mystery, one thing is certain: he must be stopped.

But can Harry stop him in time?

 

This is the 3rd Harry Hole novel and in this instalment in the very successful series of bestsellers, the level of complexity we have grown to expect from Jo Nesbo begins to show itself. The story combines elements of both a whodunnit and a who-will-do-it by delivering a very well integrated combination of stories from the second world war and Norway during the visit of US President Clinton (although he’s never actually named in the novel).

Harry’s yet again placed in a situation that will force him to juggle his personal and professional life to maintain his credibility within the police force. Set in a background of Norway’s involvement in the eastern front during WWII and the implications for young Norwegians who in a misguided attempt to stem the flow of communism into their country chose to fight with the Nazis and the re-emergence of neo-Nazi sympathies at the start of the new millennium. 

The novel manages to engage the reader in both Hole’s personal struggles with a drinking problem, grief and a budding but complex relationship and the equally intricate weave of stories and characters that make the story so rich. The historical basis for the novel is very informative, especially in relation to social comment, which is a feature of all of Nesbo’s work, and in what was a stunning piece of prescience even manages to identify the difference between 21st century neo-Nazi tendencies based on a resentment of the EU efforts towards an almost federal European state rather than simple over-heated nationalism.

I read the novel during a visit to the Jutland area of Denmark where a similarly complex relationship between Denmark and Nazi Germany during WWII has left a lasting impact on local relationships, but the immersion in the historical aspect is by no means necessary to thoroughly enjoy what is a well written (and translated by Don Bartlett) crime thriller. 

 

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