Review: The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø

The RedbreastMy Rating 4 of 5 stars

I’ve got an interview saved here, where Jo Nesbø (yes, I have an Ø on my keyboard) says that The Redbreast is his ‘most personal novel.’ The article is from 2014, which would mean The Redbreast is his most personal novel of them all, so far. Not knowing Mr Nesbø, I can’t say if that’s true, but having now got to number three in his Harry Hole series, I can safely say that from an enjoyment point of view, this is certainly the best so far. The most satisfying, the most logical as well. But that I mean, that it is set in Norway. Him being Norwegian and all. Apart from a marketing Nesbø to the world angle, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the first two novels were set in Australia and Thailand, respectively. There was nothing in them to suggest that the ‘a foreigner abroad’ angle was even considered, let alone explored. Being back in Norway, Hole and Nesbø are back on familiar territory and it shows in a generally excellent story/book.

Harry is detecting in Norway, but gets caught up in a controversy, shall we say, to do with a visiting President of the USA. He is pushed upstairs to more or less shuffle paperclips and pass hot potatoes on to other departments. The story, seemingly unrelatedly at the beginning, also concerns Norwegians who, in World War II, fought for the Germans. Several characters are involved – and you better write some of the names down, as they’re sure gonna help you figuring out this one – and gradually, a link with ‘something going on’ in the far right, New Nazi circles in present day Norway becomes possible, not exactly clear, but dangerously close to ‘home.’

That doesn’t mean it’s praise all the way. I felt that – until at least half way, where the WWII angle was being set up – the best bits were the ones without Harry Hole. And, the slow descent into alcholholism angle still doesn’t work. Just makes him weak, not ‘flawed’ as I guess was the hope. It’s not as if he gets any inspiration from the bottom of a glass. Makes me just hum, la-la-la until he’s sober again and can get on with figuring – or not – what the hell it’s all about. Oh, and as with the previous two, what seems to be the end of the story, the case, with everyone getting their coats and hats on and saying “see you on Monday then,” turns out not to be the end. As on the way to the bus, HH realises just exactly what they’ve missed – these sort of endings are usually set off by the hero noticing something in a shop, or somewhere completely unrelated to the case in any way, but being the detective they are – and only they could have made the connection because that’s what makes them so good – making a connection that everyone has missed. It’s often a child who somehow sets the link going, by saying something completely unrelated to the case. It’s a cliché. It’s also a waste of time, as you know it ain’t the person they’ve nailed for the crime because – look at all those pages left!

However, I enjoyed this one more than the first two and that’s a good sign. And speaking of signs – were there some loose ends left dangling here, that might be developed and cleared up in later books? I perhaps wouldn’t have bought this book myself (I was given it as a present) after reading the first two, but I will be reading the next in the series, one way or another, to find out.

Buy The Redbreast at The Book Depository

All Jo Nesbø posts on Speesh Reads

Goodreads page for The Redbreast

Me, on Goodreads

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