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Detective Harry Hole embarrassed the force, and for his sins he's been reassigned to mundane surveillance tasks. But while monitoring neo-Nazi activities in Oslo, Hole is inadvertently drawn into a mystery with deep roots in Norway's dark past—when members of the nation's government willingly collaborated with Nazi Germany. More than sixty years later, this black mark won't wash away, and disgraced old soldiers who once survived a brutal Russian winter are being murdered, one by one. Now, with only a stained and guilty conscience to guide him, an angry, alcoholic, error-prone policeman must make his way safely past the traps and mirrors of a twisted criminal mind. For a hideous conspiracy is rapidly taking shape around Hole—and Norway's darkest hour may still be to come.

Topics: Alcoholism, Betrayal, Crime, Police, Murder, Revenge, World War II, Nazis, Soldiers, Norway, Vienna, Germany, Suspenseful, Translated, and Series

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062194039
List price: $6.99
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I enjoyed this book immensely. It was a little confusing since I didn't know the main character (this was my first Harry Hole book), but the plot was interesting and engaging, and I eventually was hooked. I fell for Harry. He is unique character but somewhat similar to Columbo with a touch of Dirty Harry. There were moments of heart ache, like the description of what happens to his friend and colleague, Ellen. The love stories within the book were also quite touching and heartfelt. And making the present hook up with a past from WWII certainly added my level of interest. It had a bit of everything that adds up to a really good story. The only critique I had was the difficulty in keeping the characters straight since some of the names were similar, and the story jumped from present to past and back very quickly. Anyone enjoying a good detective story would find this book worth checking out. It has intrigue and action that are equal to the best, and as an added bonus also has an emotional grab. I can't wait to read more about Harry.more
A fun book, but a somewhat predictable one. I thought it could been written much tighter, and the constant switching between 1944 and contemporary times got a little irritating.

Still, the lead character (Harry Hole) was interesting and offered up some depth, and in truth, it was Hole's interactions with others that made this interesting, not the mystery itself.more
After nearly causing an international incident during a visit to Norway by the US President Detective Harry Hole is transferred within the police force and is charged with the surveillance of Nazi sympathisers. In what starts out as a barely related investigation he discovers that a very particular kind of weapon, one which would only be used for an assassination, is in the process of being smuggled into the country. What he has to uncover, before something disastrous happens, is what connection there is to a group of men who fought with the German occupying army during the second world war.

My initial lack of interest reading The Redbreast was due to its flashback passages to the battlefields of WW2. With regards to my entertainment war is one of two subjects that is virtually guaranteed to make me zone out like a switch in my brain has been turned and all I hear and see is white noise (blame bad history teaches in my adolescence). However I made an extra effort to pay attention to The Redbreast this time and, though I still could have done without quite so many flashbacks, I did find the focus on the experiences of those who chose the wrong side during the war and were later treated as traitors quite fascinating and not something I’ve come across before (or at least not when I’ve been paying attention).

But the book has much besides its post-war musings to recommend it. First and foremost there is Harry Hole. He is funny, smart, occasionally insolent, socially inept and has a tendency to wear his heart on his sleeve. At first I liked him but his realistic and truly touching reaction to a particularly horrible event about half-way through the story made me love him to bits. I rarely think about wanting to meet fictional people (because, ya know, it’s impossible) but I’d happily engage in a bit of black magic if it meant I could have a chat with Harry. And perhaps give him a hug. It might give you some sense of just how much I adored him that I immediately purchased all the other books in which he appears even though I won’t read any of them for a while just so I could have them nearby.

There are other equally well-drawn characters in the book, though many of them are the kind of repugnant individuals whose eyes you want to scratch out (or is that just me?). My favourite one to hate was Bernt Brandhaug, Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who likes to blackmail women, including Harry’s possible love interest, to sleep with him. Though despicable he is entirely too credible, as is the neo-Nazi youth Sverre Olsen, whose blaming of foreigners for the problems in his life rather than taking responsibility for his own inadequacies has a sadly familiar ring to it. This dark side of human nature is nicely balanced though by great characters like Harry’s colleagues Ellen, a feisty young woman who continues to help Harry after he is transferred to a different section, and Halvorsen a relatively new officer who is drawn into Harry’s investigation somewhat reluctantly.

The plot is very complicated, probably a little too much to be honest as there were one or two twists that didn’t seem to add much except confusion, but overall it hangs together well. The flashbacks are incorporated well (it’s not Nesbø’s fault I get bored at the first hint of wartime activity) and the mostly short chapters headed by dates help to provide much needed structure for the multi-threaded story which plays out over the course of many months. I’m sure this is all helped along by a great translation which makes the book flow very easily and naturally.

I’m still not convinced The Redbreast needed to be a hand-cramping 618 pages long, it was far too dense and detailed in parts, and there were some passages that felt muddled, like the incorporation of an enormously complicated psychological condition in an overly simplistic and not terribly realistic way. But overall these points were far outweighed by the excellent characters and well-structured narrative. I’m thrilled I have four more (so far) opportunities to catch up with Harry sometime soon.more
As someone developing a great fondness for Scandinavian crime fiction, I found myself very happy to become acquainted with Oslo police detective Harry Hole. He's another hard-drinking, socially awkward loner tracking killers in a cold climate. But Hole is a complicated man and so is the mystery he's trying to unravel, which has its roots in the Eastern Front battlefields of World War II. I got a bit lost early on with Nesbo's frequent shifts between time and place, but after about 200 pages The Redbreast settled into a compelling rhythm and became impossible to put down. I'm looking forward to reading further adventures of the unfortunately named Inspector Hole. Recommended.more
Jo Nesbo, a prolific Norwegian writer first published this book in 2000. The first English translation appeared in 2006. Hats off to both Nesbo and to the translator Don Bartlett. The plot is truly well crafted. The 544 page story is cleverly divided into 104 chapters with the single date for each clearly titled. This is just as well for the story weaves across 60 years and oscillates in two time directions. The detective Harry Hole manages to unravel the plot by relying on his doggedness as he pieces together psychology and relationships among war worn characters that survived both the Russian front in WW2 and repatriation to daily lives in a divided Norwegian populace attempting to recover from Nazi occupation and to recover an honorable National identity. A true gem of a detective novel interwoven with the horrors of WW2 and the recovery there from. Great character definition, combined with good prose and solid historical facts cleverly woven into a psycho thriller. Moreover a good dissection of the city of Oslo is provided for the restless traveler armchair reader.more
Troublesome police detective Harry Hole can't get anyone in Oslo to believe that an illegally imported rifle is important enough to warrant an investigation.This book is so complex that it nearly defies description. There are multiple story lines, flashbacks, and numerous characters (each with a Norwegian name). Surprisingly, the plot was fairly easy to follow and quite compelling. I was more interested in the story that occurred in the past than in the present situation of detective Harry Hole, but Hole's story was fairly good as well.My main beef with the book was that the end left so many hanging threads that I nearly thought I'd somehow missed the final quarter of the book in the download process. It just kind of...ends. Also, I had a very hard time connecting with the main character. I don't mind anti-social characters, but this one was so cold I couldn't properly care about him.There are a lot of parallels between The Redbreast and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The Redbreast moved much more quickly than TGWTDT and it was also very tense. Also, The Redbreast was not nearly as disturbing. However, I wasn't drawn to the characters as I was in the other book. Overall, I preferred TGWTDT.more
I enjoyed the start of this book but towards the end it became confused and I ended up just wanting to get to the end. The story line was interesting, covering Norweign evolvement with Nazi Germany and it's aftereffects. Harry Hole is one of those somewhat tormented detectives so loved by crime writers, but not excessively so. But an unexpected event in the middle of the book (which is not yet solved by the end) does send him into a decline. I'm not sure if I will seek out more Jobs Nesbo, but I'm glad to have read this one.more
Complicated, too complicated perhaps story about Norwegians who fought with Nazi's on the Eastern front and a much later effort at assasinationmore
This is the second of Jo Nesbo's "Harry Hole" books though this one is several books earlier in the series than the first one I read (The Leopard). In this book we are back and forth between the turn of the new millenium and the Eastern Front of WWII where a group of Norwegian soldiers are fighting for the Germans against the Russians. In the "present" day, an old man, a veteran, is dying and has a mission to accomplish before he dies. He buys a rare weapon and plots. The weapon comes to the attention of the police and Harry Hole tries to unravel the threads and get to the bottom of several seemingly unrelated deaths, including that of his former partner, while tracing the clues via the history of these "traitor" soldiers. He's also beginning a relationship with a new woman, Rakel. The book doesn't tie up all the loose ends, though, so perhaps this will continue in other of Harry's adventures. Harry is a rather ragged "hero" in that he's very flawed and a screw up but he's also a very good police officer/inspector.more
This is the third in the detective Harry Hole-series. And no doubt it's one of the best scandi-crimes I've read so far. I like the writing-style of Jo Nesbo - a lot of humour and chapters ending with funny remarks or good cliffhangers - but make no mistake - there's also some very brutal and shocking murders.Our hero makes a mistake in the first chapter - which ironically enough end in a promotion to the intelligence service - a job he's not that keen on. He's somewhat of a loner, brisk, quick-tempered, cynical and lovesick.The novel follows two timelines - one from a group of Norwegian men who have enrolled with the Nazi-German forces to fight the Russians at the eastern front.And up to date Harry Hole is trying to solve a murder that seems to have something to do with a neo-Nazi group. What is the connection?I liked the detailed descriptions from WWII-battles on the eastern front - which also contains a beautiful love story. Sometimes I wished we could stay there a little longer.It's a long novel with an ambitious plot and many characters to sort out. But I think Jo Nesbo delivers and hold it all together with some good surprises along the way.more
The third book in the series sees Harry Hole trying to find his way as an Inspector in POT after a shooting while looking after the President of the US.While his new boss wants him hidden in a side office he gets involved in trying to find why a powerful gun has been sold in Norway and also who to. The only link is the Neo Nazi released after his case collapsed. Who was he the middle man for on the sale.....and who is the mysterious The Prince?While the murders escalate the story of the group of comrades in World War II comes to light. But is the mysterious Daniel the killer? And who will be the final target be to bring the killings to an end?more
Dear Nesbosians,I understand you love Jo Nesbo. I know how closely you all follow his work. I know that you're irritated by the Detective Harry Hole books being translated into English out of order and that you have to wait so long between editions. Your devotion is the admirable form of love that all mystery writers long for. I feel the same way about Haruki Murakami. I realize that I stand almost alone indifferent to Mr. Nesbo like a straight man at a Liza Minnelli concert. I've tried Mr. Nesbo twice, too. I will say that I liked The Redbreast more than I did The Devil's Star, which I have no memory of at all. I'm trying to figure out why I'm so indifferent to The Redbreast. I thought it might be the short chapters, which, while they are reminiscient of rapid cutting used in films, failed to allow enough time for true tension to develope and for much character to surface. But short chapters prevail in the Martin Beck books which I'm currently a bit in love with, so that can't be it. (I'm not really crazy about rabid fire cutting in films either. And hold the darn camera still for a minute while you're at it.) While Mr. Nesbo does go after his female characters some (one comes to a gruesome, violent end) there isn't the disturbing sense of torture porn I found in the one Stieg Larsson book I read, which I didn't finish, by the way. So that's not the problem. I'm a fan of spy fiction, which is full of plot contortions, unexpected reveals and improbably twists, but those in The Redbreast left me saying, "Oh, come on." Multiple personality disorder. Really? That one was worse than Charles Dickens having a key suspect in Bleak House die of spontaneous combustion. But, I'll be honest, I had a hard time following what was going on in The Redbreast after the first 250 pages. It's possible that I simply lost interest and was no longer making a real effort, but honestly, why does anyone need a 500 page mystery thriller? 300 pages is the traditional length of a mystery for a reason. You'd think in today's harsh financial climate mystery authors would be more economical.I did enjoy the flashbacks to the Eastern Front. That story line, while really a traditional wartime romance a la For Whom the Bell Tolls, was well done, compelling and made more interesting by its Eastern Front setting which I think most American readers are unfamiliar with. So, Nesbosians, there you have it. Since I tried Jo Nesbo twice, you can't say I didn't give him a fair shake. Whatever it is you all see in him remains a mystery to me. I imagine some of you feel the same way about Haruki Murakami.more
Introducing Harry Hole, police investigator, fresh off from some debacle in his career while in Australia. We now find Harry back in Oslo, stuck doing rather mundane stuff to stay out of trouble. Luckily he has a good partner, who helps keep him from sinking into depression and alcoholism.But while on routine surveillance, Harry has another mishap, and is kicked upstairs to the Security Service (the POT) instead of out of the force. There, he's stuck reading reports of various cases to see which need further followup. What is uncovered is twofold: a ring operating in Norway, bringing in some high powered weapons, and the killing of WWII veterans who were on the Eastern Front in a dark time of Norway's history.The story is told in two threads: a backstory in WWII and present day. The way the author weaves them together is fabulous -- almost as good as the characters he introduces us to. There is a section of calls Harry made to Ellen that was among the most poignant writing I've read in a long time.I was warned that this series is one to definitely read in order, and I shall. Next on the list is Nemesis. Be sure to read up on Jo Nesbø, as he's got an interesting background.more
This is the first I have read of Jo Nesbo's books and I must say I am as taken in by his characters and plots as I was with Stieg Larsson. This particular Harry Hole mystery had some history about Norway and the Nazis that made it particularly interesting and informative. A bit chilling when you consider the horrible events of Summer 2011 when so many young people were murdered by a madman, who professed pro-Nazi beliefs. Readers will not be disappointed in the writing or the plot.more
Short choppy chapters, unappealing detective and translation full of unfamiliar locutions. Pretentious and uninteresting.more
This one was a little predictable, but I needed to read it to get the back story on Harry Hole. Nesbo is a good writer, and almost makes me want to learn Norwegian.more
In the past I have really struggled with Scandinavian fiction. I don't enjoy Larsson or Mankell, so I was ready to write this off before I'd started it. I'll admit the first hundred or so pages were a bit of a battle of wills. There are lots of characters to get to know and lots of flashbacks to WW2 to keep the reader on her toes. Then, just as I was getting a bit bogged down it all started to come together and by the end I almost couldn't put it down. Nesbo's flawed detective Harry Hole reminds a lot of Rankin's Inspector Rebus. The unfamiliar Norwegian geography was a slight struggle until I found the map inside the front cover (oops!) I'm actually looking forward to the next one.more
Harry Hole is, yet another, great detective by a foreign crime writer's American debut. A lot of the reviews compare Nesbo to Steig Larson, but Nesbo's characters and stories are not really comparable. He managed to blend WWII history with a modern day thriller that will keep reader's guessing until the very end. Surprisingly, this translated novel contains one of the most beautifully written descriptions of a character dealing with death. Overall, this is an engaging thriller that readers are sure to enjoy.more
A bit long and complex with constant jumping back and forth in time making it hard to follow at times. I like Hole and will give the author another chance on the next book. more
Book DescriptionDetective Harry Hole embarrasses the Norwegian police force during a U.S. Presidential visit so he is reassigned to the Norwegian Security Service as an Inspector (a promotion that gets him out of the way and is supposed to shut him up). Assigned to investigate what should be a rather mundane case, Hole instead finds himself getting embroiled in a possible assassination plot that has its roots in World War II—involving some Norwegians who served on the Eastern Front in the service of the Germans. Plunging Hole into the world of Norway’s current crop of neo-Nazis and the men who served on the Eastern Front, he finds himself involved in a complicated case that gets more complex and confusing as time goes on—as well as threatening the lives of those that Harry holds dear.My ThoughtsAlthough this isn’t the first Harry Hole novel, it is the first one that was translated into English. Therefore, we’re plunged right into Hole’s world with little introduction. We quickly learn that Harry has a drinking problem, which he is fighting with the help of his brilliant young partner Ellen. The relationship between Harry and Ellen was the highlight of the book for me. Their partnership and banter felt authentic and livened up what was often a confusing read.The confusion part came mostly from the events that take place in flashback during the war. We learn of several events that concern a small contingent of soldiers on the Eastern Front, which we know is related to Harry’s current case. Exactly how they are related becomes clearer as the novel progresses, but I personally struggled to keep up with everything. Nesbø gives his readers a lot of balls to juggle, and I confess I wasn’t always successful in keeping them all up in the air. In fact, I was actually thinking of quitting the book about midway through, but I kept on. Part of my problem was the disorientation of being thrust into a series without being properly introduced to the main protagonist. Another was the Norwegian surnames (which was also a problem for me in the Steig Larsson books.) The other issue was the sheer complexity of the plot and my inability to hold it all together in my head.However, there were moments where I started really getting into the story, and I began to glimpse what might have attracted others to this author. I liked that Nesbø didn’t choose to tell his story in a completely conventional way. At one point, each chapter is a series of answering machine messages. (This section was brilliantly done and really affected me emotionally.) So, although The Redbreast didn’t set my world on fire, I’m willing to give Nesbø another try. The next book in the series is Nemesis, so I’ll suppose I’ll give that one a go before deciding whether to continue with the series. (For the record, the order of the series for the books that have been translated into English is: The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil’s Star, The Redeemer, The Snowman and The Leopard.)Recommended for: Fans of complex police procedurals, readers looking for the “next Steig Larsson” (for the record, I don’t think Nesbø is the next Larsson but I can see why people make that comparison)more
This was the first Jo Nesbo book I've read. It was a fine mystery/crime novel. The story is split between Norway in the first decade of the 21st century and Europe during WWII - there was no difficulty in moving from one place and time to another. Am looking forward to the next book in this series.One problem was that this is the third Harry Hole novel, however the first two are not available in the US. Too bad. One other querk - I wanted to learn how a Norwegian dectective ended up with a non-Norwegian name like Harry Hole.more
Great story! This was my second Jo Nesbo book and even though they were from the same series, they were completely different. This story was even better than the first with a rich, complex plot and characters. Great story well worth the read.more
This story couldn’t be more timely, given the tragic events in Norway on July 22nd of this year.Although I have become a huge fan of Jo Nesbo, I had never read The Redbreast, which is the first of the Inspector Harry Hole novels to be translated. I was so surprised (given last week's horrible news) to find that the subject matter involved deadly repercussions of the white supremacist movement in Norway.Harry Hole, now 35, is a sensitive, damaged, good-hearted but relatively thin-skinned inspector with the Oslo Crime Unit. After a political contretemps in which he shoots a secret service agent because of a communications snafu, Harry is temporarily transferred to the Security Service. In that capacity, he gets involved in a series of murders involving Norway’s neo-Nazis that has roots in Norway’s Quisling past during World War II. [Note: Vidkun Quisling was a Norwegian politician who seized power in 1940 in a Nazi-backed coup d'etat. The collaborationist government participated in Germany's Final Solution. After the war, Quisling was found guilty of high treason and executed at Akershus Fortress in Oslo. The word “quisling” has come to main “traitor.” ]In alternating chapters, we learn the story of the Nazi collaborationists who now are implicated in some way with the murders currently taking place in Oslo.We also find out the background of the characters who will become pivotal in later books, such as fellow Inspector Tom Waaler, and love interest Rakel (33 when they meet) and her six-year-old son Oleg. Additionally, we learn what happened to Harry’s partner, the endearing Ellen Gjelten.Discussion: Nesbo and his detective Harry are clearly in the growing stages in this book. Harry is not yet the hardened, disillusioned, personally dysfunctional but professionally adept mess he becomes later in the series. Here he even evinces moments of charming naivety and awkwardness. It was interesting to read this right after the shooting tragedy in Norway. The neo-Nazis express many of the same sentiments as those set out by Breivik in his “manifesto.” As one of the neo-Nazis annouces, "It is no more than our duty as Norwegians to protect our race and to eliminate those who fail us.”Eerie.Evaluation: If you follow my reviews, you may have noticed I thoroughly love the books of Jo Nesbo about his detective Harry Hole. I have yet to be disappointed. Also, I had no problem going backwards to read this book, except that I then wanted to start the whole series over again, armed with my new knowledge of Harry from The Redbreast!more
Harry Hole is a detective who marches to his own beat and it was mesmerizing to follow along. Nesbo shifts back and forth in time from WWII to 2000 in Norway. Events from WWII are playing out in the present and the links slowly emerge through skillfull story telling. Hole is a great character, complex, intuitive, passionate and moral. I look forward to meeting him again.more
First off, there would never be a main character in an American mystery novel called Harry Hole, unless it was a crime-solving porn star, but it seems to work just fine, for this Norway based police officer. Harry is a tough, complex, hard-drinking cop, who may have discovered a possible assassination attempt.I am not going to reveal very much here, because one of the joys of reading this terrific Scandinavian thriller, was never knowing where this baby was going. It’s a very ambitious novel, spanning 60 years, focusing on several characters, past and present. This is an impressive introduction to a highly talented author and I am looking forward to seeing what Harry Hole gets into next.more
I thoroughly enjoyed my reading of The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo. I immediately noticed that the translation by Don Bartlett was flawless. This is a multi-layered, complex yet utterly convincing mystery. The Redbreast is, I believe, the third in the series, but the first to be translated into English. I noticed a few references to previous cases, but nothing interfered with the flow of the story. Harry Hole, through no fault of his own, has caused a international situation that his superiors decided is best handled by first promoting him and then sidelining him to a desk and paperwork. In the course of his daily grind he reads a report that resounds within him and sets him on a trail to track down a smuggled high-calibre rifle that is often used by assassins. Harry, in his dogged way, soon is stirring up people and events from both the past and the present. The investigation leads him to the dark days of World War II as he follows the twists and turns of a very disturbed mind. Powerful and vivid, I was amazed at how quickly I flew through the pages of this book. This was my first experience with Harry Hole and I am already looking forward to my next meeting with him.more
Officer Harry Hole is in the protection squad for the visit of the American President to Norway. Following an accident he is promoted to Inspector and reassigned to a new department. As he investigates the smuggling of a rifle, the story switches from the wartime Eastern Front, Neo-Nazi groups and murders closer to home.This is an intriguing story and I found the switches from modern to history interesting. There were enough twists and turns to keep me absorbed and while the mystery is solved there are some strands left open for future development. This is the first book I have read by Nesbo but will definitely be reading some more. The only thing I didn't like was the "next Steig Larson" plastered on the front. Why? It was nothing like it - both good books in their own right but one about a policeman, one about a journalist. One set in Norway and one set in Sweden (and elsewhere). There are both crime books but then so are alot of other books! Just to warn people that if you didn't like Larson you may still like Nesbo and if you did like Larson you may not like Nesbo!more
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Reviews

I enjoyed this book immensely. It was a little confusing since I didn't know the main character (this was my first Harry Hole book), but the plot was interesting and engaging, and I eventually was hooked. I fell for Harry. He is unique character but somewhat similar to Columbo with a touch of Dirty Harry. There were moments of heart ache, like the description of what happens to his friend and colleague, Ellen. The love stories within the book were also quite touching and heartfelt. And making the present hook up with a past from WWII certainly added my level of interest. It had a bit of everything that adds up to a really good story. The only critique I had was the difficulty in keeping the characters straight since some of the names were similar, and the story jumped from present to past and back very quickly. Anyone enjoying a good detective story would find this book worth checking out. It has intrigue and action that are equal to the best, and as an added bonus also has an emotional grab. I can't wait to read more about Harry.more
A fun book, but a somewhat predictable one. I thought it could been written much tighter, and the constant switching between 1944 and contemporary times got a little irritating.

Still, the lead character (Harry Hole) was interesting and offered up some depth, and in truth, it was Hole's interactions with others that made this interesting, not the mystery itself.more
After nearly causing an international incident during a visit to Norway by the US President Detective Harry Hole is transferred within the police force and is charged with the surveillance of Nazi sympathisers. In what starts out as a barely related investigation he discovers that a very particular kind of weapon, one which would only be used for an assassination, is in the process of being smuggled into the country. What he has to uncover, before something disastrous happens, is what connection there is to a group of men who fought with the German occupying army during the second world war.

My initial lack of interest reading The Redbreast was due to its flashback passages to the battlefields of WW2. With regards to my entertainment war is one of two subjects that is virtually guaranteed to make me zone out like a switch in my brain has been turned and all I hear and see is white noise (blame bad history teaches in my adolescence). However I made an extra effort to pay attention to The Redbreast this time and, though I still could have done without quite so many flashbacks, I did find the focus on the experiences of those who chose the wrong side during the war and were later treated as traitors quite fascinating and not something I’ve come across before (or at least not when I’ve been paying attention).

But the book has much besides its post-war musings to recommend it. First and foremost there is Harry Hole. He is funny, smart, occasionally insolent, socially inept and has a tendency to wear his heart on his sleeve. At first I liked him but his realistic and truly touching reaction to a particularly horrible event about half-way through the story made me love him to bits. I rarely think about wanting to meet fictional people (because, ya know, it’s impossible) but I’d happily engage in a bit of black magic if it meant I could have a chat with Harry. And perhaps give him a hug. It might give you some sense of just how much I adored him that I immediately purchased all the other books in which he appears even though I won’t read any of them for a while just so I could have them nearby.

There are other equally well-drawn characters in the book, though many of them are the kind of repugnant individuals whose eyes you want to scratch out (or is that just me?). My favourite one to hate was Bernt Brandhaug, Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who likes to blackmail women, including Harry’s possible love interest, to sleep with him. Though despicable he is entirely too credible, as is the neo-Nazi youth Sverre Olsen, whose blaming of foreigners for the problems in his life rather than taking responsibility for his own inadequacies has a sadly familiar ring to it. This dark side of human nature is nicely balanced though by great characters like Harry’s colleagues Ellen, a feisty young woman who continues to help Harry after he is transferred to a different section, and Halvorsen a relatively new officer who is drawn into Harry’s investigation somewhat reluctantly.

The plot is very complicated, probably a little too much to be honest as there were one or two twists that didn’t seem to add much except confusion, but overall it hangs together well. The flashbacks are incorporated well (it’s not Nesbø’s fault I get bored at the first hint of wartime activity) and the mostly short chapters headed by dates help to provide much needed structure for the multi-threaded story which plays out over the course of many months. I’m sure this is all helped along by a great translation which makes the book flow very easily and naturally.

I’m still not convinced The Redbreast needed to be a hand-cramping 618 pages long, it was far too dense and detailed in parts, and there were some passages that felt muddled, like the incorporation of an enormously complicated psychological condition in an overly simplistic and not terribly realistic way. But overall these points were far outweighed by the excellent characters and well-structured narrative. I’m thrilled I have four more (so far) opportunities to catch up with Harry sometime soon.more
As someone developing a great fondness for Scandinavian crime fiction, I found myself very happy to become acquainted with Oslo police detective Harry Hole. He's another hard-drinking, socially awkward loner tracking killers in a cold climate. But Hole is a complicated man and so is the mystery he's trying to unravel, which has its roots in the Eastern Front battlefields of World War II. I got a bit lost early on with Nesbo's frequent shifts between time and place, but after about 200 pages The Redbreast settled into a compelling rhythm and became impossible to put down. I'm looking forward to reading further adventures of the unfortunately named Inspector Hole. Recommended.more
Jo Nesbo, a prolific Norwegian writer first published this book in 2000. The first English translation appeared in 2006. Hats off to both Nesbo and to the translator Don Bartlett. The plot is truly well crafted. The 544 page story is cleverly divided into 104 chapters with the single date for each clearly titled. This is just as well for the story weaves across 60 years and oscillates in two time directions. The detective Harry Hole manages to unravel the plot by relying on his doggedness as he pieces together psychology and relationships among war worn characters that survived both the Russian front in WW2 and repatriation to daily lives in a divided Norwegian populace attempting to recover from Nazi occupation and to recover an honorable National identity. A true gem of a detective novel interwoven with the horrors of WW2 and the recovery there from. Great character definition, combined with good prose and solid historical facts cleverly woven into a psycho thriller. Moreover a good dissection of the city of Oslo is provided for the restless traveler armchair reader.more
Troublesome police detective Harry Hole can't get anyone in Oslo to believe that an illegally imported rifle is important enough to warrant an investigation.This book is so complex that it nearly defies description. There are multiple story lines, flashbacks, and numerous characters (each with a Norwegian name). Surprisingly, the plot was fairly easy to follow and quite compelling. I was more interested in the story that occurred in the past than in the present situation of detective Harry Hole, but Hole's story was fairly good as well.My main beef with the book was that the end left so many hanging threads that I nearly thought I'd somehow missed the final quarter of the book in the download process. It just kind of...ends. Also, I had a very hard time connecting with the main character. I don't mind anti-social characters, but this one was so cold I couldn't properly care about him.There are a lot of parallels between The Redbreast and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The Redbreast moved much more quickly than TGWTDT and it was also very tense. Also, The Redbreast was not nearly as disturbing. However, I wasn't drawn to the characters as I was in the other book. Overall, I preferred TGWTDT.more
I enjoyed the start of this book but towards the end it became confused and I ended up just wanting to get to the end. The story line was interesting, covering Norweign evolvement with Nazi Germany and it's aftereffects. Harry Hole is one of those somewhat tormented detectives so loved by crime writers, but not excessively so. But an unexpected event in the middle of the book (which is not yet solved by the end) does send him into a decline. I'm not sure if I will seek out more Jobs Nesbo, but I'm glad to have read this one.more
Complicated, too complicated perhaps story about Norwegians who fought with Nazi's on the Eastern front and a much later effort at assasinationmore
This is the second of Jo Nesbo's "Harry Hole" books though this one is several books earlier in the series than the first one I read (The Leopard). In this book we are back and forth between the turn of the new millenium and the Eastern Front of WWII where a group of Norwegian soldiers are fighting for the Germans against the Russians. In the "present" day, an old man, a veteran, is dying and has a mission to accomplish before he dies. He buys a rare weapon and plots. The weapon comes to the attention of the police and Harry Hole tries to unravel the threads and get to the bottom of several seemingly unrelated deaths, including that of his former partner, while tracing the clues via the history of these "traitor" soldiers. He's also beginning a relationship with a new woman, Rakel. The book doesn't tie up all the loose ends, though, so perhaps this will continue in other of Harry's adventures. Harry is a rather ragged "hero" in that he's very flawed and a screw up but he's also a very good police officer/inspector.more
This is the third in the detective Harry Hole-series. And no doubt it's one of the best scandi-crimes I've read so far. I like the writing-style of Jo Nesbo - a lot of humour and chapters ending with funny remarks or good cliffhangers - but make no mistake - there's also some very brutal and shocking murders.Our hero makes a mistake in the first chapter - which ironically enough end in a promotion to the intelligence service - a job he's not that keen on. He's somewhat of a loner, brisk, quick-tempered, cynical and lovesick.The novel follows two timelines - one from a group of Norwegian men who have enrolled with the Nazi-German forces to fight the Russians at the eastern front.And up to date Harry Hole is trying to solve a murder that seems to have something to do with a neo-Nazi group. What is the connection?I liked the detailed descriptions from WWII-battles on the eastern front - which also contains a beautiful love story. Sometimes I wished we could stay there a little longer.It's a long novel with an ambitious plot and many characters to sort out. But I think Jo Nesbo delivers and hold it all together with some good surprises along the way.more
The third book in the series sees Harry Hole trying to find his way as an Inspector in POT after a shooting while looking after the President of the US.While his new boss wants him hidden in a side office he gets involved in trying to find why a powerful gun has been sold in Norway and also who to. The only link is the Neo Nazi released after his case collapsed. Who was he the middle man for on the sale.....and who is the mysterious The Prince?While the murders escalate the story of the group of comrades in World War II comes to light. But is the mysterious Daniel the killer? And who will be the final target be to bring the killings to an end?more
Dear Nesbosians,I understand you love Jo Nesbo. I know how closely you all follow his work. I know that you're irritated by the Detective Harry Hole books being translated into English out of order and that you have to wait so long between editions. Your devotion is the admirable form of love that all mystery writers long for. I feel the same way about Haruki Murakami. I realize that I stand almost alone indifferent to Mr. Nesbo like a straight man at a Liza Minnelli concert. I've tried Mr. Nesbo twice, too. I will say that I liked The Redbreast more than I did The Devil's Star, which I have no memory of at all. I'm trying to figure out why I'm so indifferent to The Redbreast. I thought it might be the short chapters, which, while they are reminiscient of rapid cutting used in films, failed to allow enough time for true tension to develope and for much character to surface. But short chapters prevail in the Martin Beck books which I'm currently a bit in love with, so that can't be it. (I'm not really crazy about rabid fire cutting in films either. And hold the darn camera still for a minute while you're at it.) While Mr. Nesbo does go after his female characters some (one comes to a gruesome, violent end) there isn't the disturbing sense of torture porn I found in the one Stieg Larsson book I read, which I didn't finish, by the way. So that's not the problem. I'm a fan of spy fiction, which is full of plot contortions, unexpected reveals and improbably twists, but those in The Redbreast left me saying, "Oh, come on." Multiple personality disorder. Really? That one was worse than Charles Dickens having a key suspect in Bleak House die of spontaneous combustion. But, I'll be honest, I had a hard time following what was going on in The Redbreast after the first 250 pages. It's possible that I simply lost interest and was no longer making a real effort, but honestly, why does anyone need a 500 page mystery thriller? 300 pages is the traditional length of a mystery for a reason. You'd think in today's harsh financial climate mystery authors would be more economical.I did enjoy the flashbacks to the Eastern Front. That story line, while really a traditional wartime romance a la For Whom the Bell Tolls, was well done, compelling and made more interesting by its Eastern Front setting which I think most American readers are unfamiliar with. So, Nesbosians, there you have it. Since I tried Jo Nesbo twice, you can't say I didn't give him a fair shake. Whatever it is you all see in him remains a mystery to me. I imagine some of you feel the same way about Haruki Murakami.more
Introducing Harry Hole, police investigator, fresh off from some debacle in his career while in Australia. We now find Harry back in Oslo, stuck doing rather mundane stuff to stay out of trouble. Luckily he has a good partner, who helps keep him from sinking into depression and alcoholism.But while on routine surveillance, Harry has another mishap, and is kicked upstairs to the Security Service (the POT) instead of out of the force. There, he's stuck reading reports of various cases to see which need further followup. What is uncovered is twofold: a ring operating in Norway, bringing in some high powered weapons, and the killing of WWII veterans who were on the Eastern Front in a dark time of Norway's history.The story is told in two threads: a backstory in WWII and present day. The way the author weaves them together is fabulous -- almost as good as the characters he introduces us to. There is a section of calls Harry made to Ellen that was among the most poignant writing I've read in a long time.I was warned that this series is one to definitely read in order, and I shall. Next on the list is Nemesis. Be sure to read up on Jo Nesbø, as he's got an interesting background.more
This is the first I have read of Jo Nesbo's books and I must say I am as taken in by his characters and plots as I was with Stieg Larsson. This particular Harry Hole mystery had some history about Norway and the Nazis that made it particularly interesting and informative. A bit chilling when you consider the horrible events of Summer 2011 when so many young people were murdered by a madman, who professed pro-Nazi beliefs. Readers will not be disappointed in the writing or the plot.more
Short choppy chapters, unappealing detective and translation full of unfamiliar locutions. Pretentious and uninteresting.more
This one was a little predictable, but I needed to read it to get the back story on Harry Hole. Nesbo is a good writer, and almost makes me want to learn Norwegian.more
In the past I have really struggled with Scandinavian fiction. I don't enjoy Larsson or Mankell, so I was ready to write this off before I'd started it. I'll admit the first hundred or so pages were a bit of a battle of wills. There are lots of characters to get to know and lots of flashbacks to WW2 to keep the reader on her toes. Then, just as I was getting a bit bogged down it all started to come together and by the end I almost couldn't put it down. Nesbo's flawed detective Harry Hole reminds a lot of Rankin's Inspector Rebus. The unfamiliar Norwegian geography was a slight struggle until I found the map inside the front cover (oops!) I'm actually looking forward to the next one.more
Harry Hole is, yet another, great detective by a foreign crime writer's American debut. A lot of the reviews compare Nesbo to Steig Larson, but Nesbo's characters and stories are not really comparable. He managed to blend WWII history with a modern day thriller that will keep reader's guessing until the very end. Surprisingly, this translated novel contains one of the most beautifully written descriptions of a character dealing with death. Overall, this is an engaging thriller that readers are sure to enjoy.more
A bit long and complex with constant jumping back and forth in time making it hard to follow at times. I like Hole and will give the author another chance on the next book. more
Book DescriptionDetective Harry Hole embarrasses the Norwegian police force during a U.S. Presidential visit so he is reassigned to the Norwegian Security Service as an Inspector (a promotion that gets him out of the way and is supposed to shut him up). Assigned to investigate what should be a rather mundane case, Hole instead finds himself getting embroiled in a possible assassination plot that has its roots in World War II—involving some Norwegians who served on the Eastern Front in the service of the Germans. Plunging Hole into the world of Norway’s current crop of neo-Nazis and the men who served on the Eastern Front, he finds himself involved in a complicated case that gets more complex and confusing as time goes on—as well as threatening the lives of those that Harry holds dear.My ThoughtsAlthough this isn’t the first Harry Hole novel, it is the first one that was translated into English. Therefore, we’re plunged right into Hole’s world with little introduction. We quickly learn that Harry has a drinking problem, which he is fighting with the help of his brilliant young partner Ellen. The relationship between Harry and Ellen was the highlight of the book for me. Their partnership and banter felt authentic and livened up what was often a confusing read.The confusion part came mostly from the events that take place in flashback during the war. We learn of several events that concern a small contingent of soldiers on the Eastern Front, which we know is related to Harry’s current case. Exactly how they are related becomes clearer as the novel progresses, but I personally struggled to keep up with everything. Nesbø gives his readers a lot of balls to juggle, and I confess I wasn’t always successful in keeping them all up in the air. In fact, I was actually thinking of quitting the book about midway through, but I kept on. Part of my problem was the disorientation of being thrust into a series without being properly introduced to the main protagonist. Another was the Norwegian surnames (which was also a problem for me in the Steig Larsson books.) The other issue was the sheer complexity of the plot and my inability to hold it all together in my head.However, there were moments where I started really getting into the story, and I began to glimpse what might have attracted others to this author. I liked that Nesbø didn’t choose to tell his story in a completely conventional way. At one point, each chapter is a series of answering machine messages. (This section was brilliantly done and really affected me emotionally.) So, although The Redbreast didn’t set my world on fire, I’m willing to give Nesbø another try. The next book in the series is Nemesis, so I’ll suppose I’ll give that one a go before deciding whether to continue with the series. (For the record, the order of the series for the books that have been translated into English is: The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil’s Star, The Redeemer, The Snowman and The Leopard.)Recommended for: Fans of complex police procedurals, readers looking for the “next Steig Larsson” (for the record, I don’t think Nesbø is the next Larsson but I can see why people make that comparison)more
This was the first Jo Nesbo book I've read. It was a fine mystery/crime novel. The story is split between Norway in the first decade of the 21st century and Europe during WWII - there was no difficulty in moving from one place and time to another. Am looking forward to the next book in this series.One problem was that this is the third Harry Hole novel, however the first two are not available in the US. Too bad. One other querk - I wanted to learn how a Norwegian dectective ended up with a non-Norwegian name like Harry Hole.more
Great story! This was my second Jo Nesbo book and even though they were from the same series, they were completely different. This story was even better than the first with a rich, complex plot and characters. Great story well worth the read.more
This story couldn’t be more timely, given the tragic events in Norway on July 22nd of this year.Although I have become a huge fan of Jo Nesbo, I had never read The Redbreast, which is the first of the Inspector Harry Hole novels to be translated. I was so surprised (given last week's horrible news) to find that the subject matter involved deadly repercussions of the white supremacist movement in Norway.Harry Hole, now 35, is a sensitive, damaged, good-hearted but relatively thin-skinned inspector with the Oslo Crime Unit. After a political contretemps in which he shoots a secret service agent because of a communications snafu, Harry is temporarily transferred to the Security Service. In that capacity, he gets involved in a series of murders involving Norway’s neo-Nazis that has roots in Norway’s Quisling past during World War II. [Note: Vidkun Quisling was a Norwegian politician who seized power in 1940 in a Nazi-backed coup d'etat. The collaborationist government participated in Germany's Final Solution. After the war, Quisling was found guilty of high treason and executed at Akershus Fortress in Oslo. The word “quisling” has come to main “traitor.” ]In alternating chapters, we learn the story of the Nazi collaborationists who now are implicated in some way with the murders currently taking place in Oslo.We also find out the background of the characters who will become pivotal in later books, such as fellow Inspector Tom Waaler, and love interest Rakel (33 when they meet) and her six-year-old son Oleg. Additionally, we learn what happened to Harry’s partner, the endearing Ellen Gjelten.Discussion: Nesbo and his detective Harry are clearly in the growing stages in this book. Harry is not yet the hardened, disillusioned, personally dysfunctional but professionally adept mess he becomes later in the series. Here he even evinces moments of charming naivety and awkwardness. It was interesting to read this right after the shooting tragedy in Norway. The neo-Nazis express many of the same sentiments as those set out by Breivik in his “manifesto.” As one of the neo-Nazis annouces, "It is no more than our duty as Norwegians to protect our race and to eliminate those who fail us.”Eerie.Evaluation: If you follow my reviews, you may have noticed I thoroughly love the books of Jo Nesbo about his detective Harry Hole. I have yet to be disappointed. Also, I had no problem going backwards to read this book, except that I then wanted to start the whole series over again, armed with my new knowledge of Harry from The Redbreast!more
Harry Hole is a detective who marches to his own beat and it was mesmerizing to follow along. Nesbo shifts back and forth in time from WWII to 2000 in Norway. Events from WWII are playing out in the present and the links slowly emerge through skillfull story telling. Hole is a great character, complex, intuitive, passionate and moral. I look forward to meeting him again.more
First off, there would never be a main character in an American mystery novel called Harry Hole, unless it was a crime-solving porn star, but it seems to work just fine, for this Norway based police officer. Harry is a tough, complex, hard-drinking cop, who may have discovered a possible assassination attempt.I am not going to reveal very much here, because one of the joys of reading this terrific Scandinavian thriller, was never knowing where this baby was going. It’s a very ambitious novel, spanning 60 years, focusing on several characters, past and present. This is an impressive introduction to a highly talented author and I am looking forward to seeing what Harry Hole gets into next.more
I thoroughly enjoyed my reading of The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo. I immediately noticed that the translation by Don Bartlett was flawless. This is a multi-layered, complex yet utterly convincing mystery. The Redbreast is, I believe, the third in the series, but the first to be translated into English. I noticed a few references to previous cases, but nothing interfered with the flow of the story. Harry Hole, through no fault of his own, has caused a international situation that his superiors decided is best handled by first promoting him and then sidelining him to a desk and paperwork. In the course of his daily grind he reads a report that resounds within him and sets him on a trail to track down a smuggled high-calibre rifle that is often used by assassins. Harry, in his dogged way, soon is stirring up people and events from both the past and the present. The investigation leads him to the dark days of World War II as he follows the twists and turns of a very disturbed mind. Powerful and vivid, I was amazed at how quickly I flew through the pages of this book. This was my first experience with Harry Hole and I am already looking forward to my next meeting with him.more
Officer Harry Hole is in the protection squad for the visit of the American President to Norway. Following an accident he is promoted to Inspector and reassigned to a new department. As he investigates the smuggling of a rifle, the story switches from the wartime Eastern Front, Neo-Nazi groups and murders closer to home.This is an intriguing story and I found the switches from modern to history interesting. There were enough twists and turns to keep me absorbed and while the mystery is solved there are some strands left open for future development. This is the first book I have read by Nesbo but will definitely be reading some more. The only thing I didn't like was the "next Steig Larson" plastered on the front. Why? It was nothing like it - both good books in their own right but one about a policeman, one about a journalist. One set in Norway and one set in Sweden (and elsewhere). There are both crime books but then so are alot of other books! Just to warn people that if you didn't like Larson you may still like Nesbo and if you did like Larson you may not like Nesbo!more
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