Monday, April 21, 2014


Jo Nesbo's The Redbreast is a complex, violent, well-written novel.

The story starts with a mistake. Whether the mistake is the mistake of the bureaucracy or of the protagonist Harry Hole is up to the reader to decide. But to avoid embarrassment, Harry's superiors promote him. He becomes an inspector in the Norwegian Security Service.

From there, the book spins into at least six murders, one of them especially tragic for Harry.

Along the way, Nesbo alternates between the WWII backstory and the present day. The backstory unfolds in tandem with current events.

Harry falls in love. That further complicates the matter (in ways you have to read the book to know).

The Redbreast has a lot of in-betweens. The backstory deals with the time when Norway was torn three ways. Patriots and others had to decide between their loyalty to Norway, defecting to the German invaders, or turning to the Russians as they gained the upper hand.

Circumstances like that cause stress. People never forget the betrayals, the promises made and broken. And if someone is inclined to insanity, that kind of situation could well make it worse.

So this book deals with murder, insanity, and working systematically to trace killer-weapons and their consequences. It also deals with corruption in the Norwegian bureaucracy and police. It deals with the bureaucracy covering up, not just for Harry, but for others along the way.

Even The Redbreast's “solution” is not what it appears to be.

The Redbreast is over 600 pages long (in my Kindle version). It was easy, but slow, reading, at least for someone like me. (That's why it has been a while since I've posted.)

Jo Nesbo is a bestselling author. This is my first Jo Nesbo to read.

If you are looking for a violent, complex, well-written story, I recommend this book.  


“That's capitalism for you. The small guys slog away while the rich get fatter whether it's boom time or a slump.”
Only the dead escape unscathed.
“ throws up bizarre coincidences,” Rakel said. “So bizarre that you would never get away with it in fiction, anyway.”

NOTE: I couldn't figure out how to make that Norwegian O in this program. You'll have to put up with English spelling. 


George said...

I have a number of Jo Nesbo books but haven't had the time to read them. As you point out, most of them are lengthy. Your review is motivating me to read one soon.

Joe Barone said...

Geroge, I've been out of pocket for a few days, so I am just getting this posted. I liked this book. I hope you like the one you read too.