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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 Jan 3, 2012
ISBN: 9780062194039
List price: $4.99
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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.read more
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Awesome. What a dark and complex crime novel. The story peels away slowly but never loses its grip on you for a moment. Great characters, a perfectly flawed detective and some mysterious goings on both with the criminals and the police. Reading the last few chapters was like watching a Bourne movie on fast forward. It really was that exciting! Long live the Hole!read more
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Very good book. Main character is Harry Hole, a kind of renegade police detective who doesn't allways follow the rules. When he shots a secret service agent by mistake he is promoted and transferred to another department. Meanwhile someone has been target shooting with a military gun and Harry is sure that they will use it soon.read more
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"I wonder if there's a vacancy in a brighter place... if they need a cop in Bergen" (H.Hole)Say you go to visit Norway. Of course you want to stay in Oslo a few days. Say you want a unusual guide giving you an overview of the city with the eyes of a native (a very disillusioned one, I should add) and a few political and historical insights, keeping always your attention to "on your toe" level. My choice was Harry Hole (Jo Nesbø's "The Redbreast " character). He took me around places and showed the good and the bad side of the city, some bars and restaurants included, made me smile explaining me the naive customs (i.e.: cops don't wear weapons? unbelievable but true over there!), thrilled me with the investigation on a terrorist threat connected to some apparently randomic murders, making me feel the taste of a sad winter in a nordic metropolis and the relief of the coming spring... and laying down on the table a down to earth analysis of norwegian sense of guilt toward nazism and a flame out of the problem in the youth suburban culture...... how does it sounds? It worked for me, I enjoyed the mix book/tour to the point I went back to Norway (in the spring this time!) with another Nesbø's masterpiece!!! :) Only one warning... if you are heart broken, find other ways to enjoy the city... there's a full plenty of'em... Harry's company wont do you any good... his drinking genes and his grim view on the future will make your perpective even murkier... Salvatore Gagliarderead more
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REcommended by the Mysterious Bookshop, it was really good, I was prepared not to like it as I'm a little tired od overdrinking policemen ( Rankin's Rebus etc)read more
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There are a lot of great Scandinavian thrillers being translated into English, but Redbreast is in a class of it's own. It is truly fabulous. I cannot recommend it highly enough and from the other reviews it seems that Librarything readers agree.The novel moves back and forth in time from WWII and the present. The history of Norway's occcupation during the war and the Norwegian soldiers who fought with the Germans at the eastern front is fascinating. Inspector Harry Hole is a great character. This book has some similarites to the Stieg Larsson Swedish thrillers in that it deals with present neo-Nazi activities in Norway and Sweden and the history of collaberation with the Germans during the war.read more
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It didn't take me long to fall in love with detective Harry Hole. Even though Nesbø paints a less than flattering picture of our main character, Hole is no less than fantastic. Fighting against a drinking problem and enemies he doesn't even know exist, Hole must try to solve a mystery that's deeply connected to Norway's involvement in World War II and Norwegian Nazis. Nesbø's writing style, translated by Don Bartlett, is strong and intriguing. And though Hole is the main character, Nesbø doesn't shy away from creating strong secondary characters. I thoroughly enjoyed and loved this book. The only reason I gave it 4.5 stars is because there's a bit of character death that is vital to the plot, but upset me greatly.read more
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Having already read The Snowman, I was familiar with Harry Hole and with the author's style. This was an enjoyable novel that led to much Googling on my part about historical events of which I had little previous understanding. The novel displays the typical features of Scandinavian crime tales, particularly the stark beauty of the landscape and the morose and broken protagonist. One real problem for me, which I'm starting to think may have been as a result of a serindiptitous misread, is that I knew who the antagonist was from virtually the start and this had a somewhat ruining effect. That said, I'm still eager to read more adventures of Harry Hole.read more
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I selected the Redbreast as my first Jo Nesbo novel. I'm always on the prey for a good detective novel and read several reviews of other Harry Hole novels and chose the Redbreast. Unfortunately it may be my last. Reading it was like installing sheetrock. Putting it up is a pain, followed by spackling and sanding. Ms. Nesbo spent too much time with the WWII sequences. Like sheetrock she was getting the room ready but there were just too many sheets to put up. I stuck it out because I wanted to see the room finished but the effort was just not worth it to me.read more
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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.read more
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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.read more
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I read this book during my holiday on the beach. A typical scandinavian thriller: sad and dark in places, not all the good guys survive. Not all the bad guys either, though. Since I don't like happy endings anyway, I liked it!read more
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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.read more
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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.read more
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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.read more
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I wasn't immediately drawn into this story. I felt like maybe something was missing from the translation to English. I wound up really enjoying it - In the end it was solid, though not entirely resolved. I appreciated the ending and how it stands on its own. This book was a gift and I didn't know the author or that it was a series, so I'm looking forward to starting another of these books now.read more
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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.read more
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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.read more
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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. read more
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Harry Hole is introduced in this thriller. He has had a difficult recent experience and is reassigned to a less demanding role than his previous crime branch position, but given the rank of inspector. The book begins with a series of apparently unrelated events, including a couple of murders, and several chapters set in WW2 trenches where a group of Norwegian volunteers are fighting with the Germans against the Russians. Meanwhile, in 1999, an elderly, dying man acquires a powerful assault rifle and apparently means to carry out a number of assassinations in his final days. Harry’s colleague, Ellen, discovers that Inspector Tom Waaler appears to be implicated in one of the murders. Unfortunately, Waaler finds out that she is on his trail, and has her eliminated. Thus, Harry has another mystery to solve. Rakel Fauke provides the love interest in an intriguing and (eventually) fast moving and complex story which maintains the tension until near the end, when a number of loose ends are tied up (but not including a solution to Ellen’s death).read more
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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.read more
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Short choppy chapters, unappealing detective and translation full of unfamiliar locutions. Pretentious and uninteresting.read more
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Great Nordic Crime thriller, against the backdrop of Norwegian guilt over capitulation to the Germans during WWII. Goes back and forth between the present and WWII to slowly add to our understanding of the context of the crimes. Briskly written but not a simple novel. The cop, Harry Hole, is a modern day Norwegian, operating according to his own quirky code of justice. Very suspenseful and with some interesting digressions such as discussions of bird behavior. Sometimes a bit too complex--hard to keep track of all the characters but that is a minimal flaw far outweighed by the overall excitement of the book. Won the best Nordic Crime Novel and Norwegian book clubs voted it the best Norwegian Crime Novel ever written.read more
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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.read more
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When Norway's crime squad wants to quietly remove Harry Hole from the public's - and especially the press's eye - they promote him to investigator with the POT (Security Service) to essentially push paper around. In the process of pushing this paper around, Harry finds himself assigned to watch a neo-Nazi who escaped prison on a legal technicality and that assignment leads Harry into a serial murder case that has ties to World War II Nazis. Jo Nesbø's The Redbreast is a complex novel involving two plots - one present-day Oslo, Norway, one World War II Eastern Front - that creatively swerve around, over and under each other for about 400 pages and then collide to create a spectacular conclusion. Each time the plots come close to each other, the reader moves a little closer to understanding the outcome, to solving the case. And THEN the plots twist. Right up to the end Nesbø is throwing twist after twist into the fold, which keeps the pace quick and the action sharp. This is a long book in page numbers, but those pages almost turn themselves. And don't get lazy reading this one; there are no lulls or unimportant parts.The characters who inhabit this novel are rich and multi-dimensional. I've heard many people complaining about the cliché alcoholic cop. Harry Hole is a recovering alcoholic, but he doesn't fit any of the clichés. His relationships with others is probably what builds his character the most. When he leaves the crime squad, he is also leaving his partner and confidant, Ellen. Harry's relationship with his sister also helps to define him. He isn't a rebel or a maverick, and while he, at times, is on the outside looking in, he actually wants to belong. He desperately wants that light on his answerphone to be lit up when he comes home.One of the elements I found most stunning about this novel were the various parallels of man to nature. The imagery the nature analogies present is stunning, and their purposes multi-faceted. They are presenting themes in the novel but they also work to create foreshadowing. The novel ends on bit of a mysterious note, one that makes the reader suspect that we haven't heard the last of Harry Hole. And that's a good thing in my opinion.read more
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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.read more
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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.read more
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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!read more
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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.read more
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This is the first thing I’ve read by the Norwegian writer, Jo Nesbo, and it is very good. According to the blurb, The Redbreast was voted “Best Norwegian Crime Novel Ever Written” by members of Norwegian book clubs. This is a taut, well structured mystery with good characters and interesting, but plausible, plot twists that keep the pace moving. Police Detective Harry Hole, promoted to Inspector during this story for reasons of bureaucratic expediency rather than simply for his recognized talents as a detective, has had his problems with alcohol and a tendency to swim against the current. But here he falls into a mystery that has its roots way back in WWII when contingents of Norwegians fought for the Germans on the eastern front, in this case the northeastern front near Leningrad. Many of these men were imprisoned after the war as traitors, but Nesbo explores the moral certainties that are not always all that clear. A number of these men are still alive and become involved in the plot when Nesbo starts to investigate the secret importation of a special sniper rifle. Nesbo is also very good on the machinations of bureaucracy, the manipulation of issues and people sometimes for private aims, the one-upmanship that underlies the veneer of polite exchanges. You get a feel for Oslo, and for the challenges of modern Norwegian society integrating people from widely diverse ethnic backgrounds as well as the backlash that sometimes provokes. The main mystery is solved and Harry saves the day in some fast, action-packed moments at the end, but Nesbo does not wrap up all the loose ends. I assume, and hope, that Harry returns to pursue those. Recommended reading.read more
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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.
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Awesome. What a dark and complex crime novel. The story peels away slowly but never loses its grip on you for a moment. Great characters, a perfectly flawed detective and some mysterious goings on both with the criminals and the police. Reading the last few chapters was like watching a Bourne movie on fast forward. It really was that exciting! Long live the Hole!
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Very good book. Main character is Harry Hole, a kind of renegade police detective who doesn't allways follow the rules. When he shots a secret service agent by mistake he is promoted and transferred to another department. Meanwhile someone has been target shooting with a military gun and Harry is sure that they will use it soon.
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"I wonder if there's a vacancy in a brighter place... if they need a cop in Bergen" (H.Hole)Say you go to visit Norway. Of course you want to stay in Oslo a few days. Say you want a unusual guide giving you an overview of the city with the eyes of a native (a very disillusioned one, I should add) and a few political and historical insights, keeping always your attention to "on your toe" level. My choice was Harry Hole (Jo Nesbø's "The Redbreast " character). He took me around places and showed the good and the bad side of the city, some bars and restaurants included, made me smile explaining me the naive customs (i.e.: cops don't wear weapons? unbelievable but true over there!), thrilled me with the investigation on a terrorist threat connected to some apparently randomic murders, making me feel the taste of a sad winter in a nordic metropolis and the relief of the coming spring... and laying down on the table a down to earth analysis of norwegian sense of guilt toward nazism and a flame out of the problem in the youth suburban culture...... how does it sounds? It worked for me, I enjoyed the mix book/tour to the point I went back to Norway (in the spring this time!) with another Nesbø's masterpiece!!! :) Only one warning... if you are heart broken, find other ways to enjoy the city... there's a full plenty of'em... Harry's company wont do you any good... his drinking genes and his grim view on the future will make your perpective even murkier... Salvatore Gagliarde
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REcommended by the Mysterious Bookshop, it was really good, I was prepared not to like it as I'm a little tired od overdrinking policemen ( Rankin's Rebus etc)
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There are a lot of great Scandinavian thrillers being translated into English, but Redbreast is in a class of it's own. It is truly fabulous. I cannot recommend it highly enough and from the other reviews it seems that Librarything readers agree.The novel moves back and forth in time from WWII and the present. The history of Norway's occcupation during the war and the Norwegian soldiers who fought with the Germans at the eastern front is fascinating. Inspector Harry Hole is a great character. This book has some similarites to the Stieg Larsson Swedish thrillers in that it deals with present neo-Nazi activities in Norway and Sweden and the history of collaberation with the Germans during the war.
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It didn't take me long to fall in love with detective Harry Hole. Even though Nesbø paints a less than flattering picture of our main character, Hole is no less than fantastic. Fighting against a drinking problem and enemies he doesn't even know exist, Hole must try to solve a mystery that's deeply connected to Norway's involvement in World War II and Norwegian Nazis. Nesbø's writing style, translated by Don Bartlett, is strong and intriguing. And though Hole is the main character, Nesbø doesn't shy away from creating strong secondary characters. I thoroughly enjoyed and loved this book. The only reason I gave it 4.5 stars is because there's a bit of character death that is vital to the plot, but upset me greatly.
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Having already read The Snowman, I was familiar with Harry Hole and with the author's style. This was an enjoyable novel that led to much Googling on my part about historical events of which I had little previous understanding. The novel displays the typical features of Scandinavian crime tales, particularly the stark beauty of the landscape and the morose and broken protagonist. One real problem for me, which I'm starting to think may have been as a result of a serindiptitous misread, is that I knew who the antagonist was from virtually the start and this had a somewhat ruining effect. That said, I'm still eager to read more adventures of Harry Hole.
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I selected the Redbreast as my first Jo Nesbo novel. I'm always on the prey for a good detective novel and read several reviews of other Harry Hole novels and chose the Redbreast. Unfortunately it may be my last. Reading it was like installing sheetrock. Putting it up is a pain, followed by spackling and sanding. Ms. Nesbo spent too much time with the WWII sequences. Like sheetrock she was getting the room ready but there were just too many sheets to put up. I stuck it out because I wanted to see the room finished but the effort was just not worth it to me.
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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.
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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.
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I read this book during my holiday on the beach. A typical scandinavian thriller: sad and dark in places, not all the good guys survive. Not all the bad guys either, though. Since I don't like happy endings anyway, I liked it!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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I wasn't immediately drawn into this story. I felt like maybe something was missing from the translation to English. I wound up really enjoying it - In the end it was solid, though not entirely resolved. I appreciated the ending and how it stands on its own. This book was a gift and I didn't know the author or that it was a series, so I'm looking forward to starting another of these books now.
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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.
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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.
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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. 
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Harry Hole is introduced in this thriller. He has had a difficult recent experience and is reassigned to a less demanding role than his previous crime branch position, but given the rank of inspector. The book begins with a series of apparently unrelated events, including a couple of murders, and several chapters set in WW2 trenches where a group of Norwegian volunteers are fighting with the Germans against the Russians. Meanwhile, in 1999, an elderly, dying man acquires a powerful assault rifle and apparently means to carry out a number of assassinations in his final days. Harry’s colleague, Ellen, discovers that Inspector Tom Waaler appears to be implicated in one of the murders. Unfortunately, Waaler finds out that she is on his trail, and has her eliminated. Thus, Harry has another mystery to solve. Rakel Fauke provides the love interest in an intriguing and (eventually) fast moving and complex story which maintains the tension until near the end, when a number of loose ends are tied up (but not including a solution to Ellen’s death).
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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.
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Short choppy chapters, unappealing detective and translation full of unfamiliar locutions. Pretentious and uninteresting.
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Great Nordic Crime thriller, against the backdrop of Norwegian guilt over capitulation to the Germans during WWII. Goes back and forth between the present and WWII to slowly add to our understanding of the context of the crimes. Briskly written but not a simple novel. The cop, Harry Hole, is a modern day Norwegian, operating according to his own quirky code of justice. Very suspenseful and with some interesting digressions such as discussions of bird behavior. Sometimes a bit too complex--hard to keep track of all the characters but that is a minimal flaw far outweighed by the overall excitement of the book. Won the best Nordic Crime Novel and Norwegian book clubs voted it the best Norwegian Crime Novel ever written.
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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.
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When Norway's crime squad wants to quietly remove Harry Hole from the public's - and especially the press's eye - they promote him to investigator with the POT (Security Service) to essentially push paper around. In the process of pushing this paper around, Harry finds himself assigned to watch a neo-Nazi who escaped prison on a legal technicality and that assignment leads Harry into a serial murder case that has ties to World War II Nazis. Jo Nesbø's The Redbreast is a complex novel involving two plots - one present-day Oslo, Norway, one World War II Eastern Front - that creatively swerve around, over and under each other for about 400 pages and then collide to create a spectacular conclusion. Each time the plots come close to each other, the reader moves a little closer to understanding the outcome, to solving the case. And THEN the plots twist. Right up to the end Nesbø is throwing twist after twist into the fold, which keeps the pace quick and the action sharp. This is a long book in page numbers, but those pages almost turn themselves. And don't get lazy reading this one; there are no lulls or unimportant parts.The characters who inhabit this novel are rich and multi-dimensional. I've heard many people complaining about the cliché alcoholic cop. Harry Hole is a recovering alcoholic, but he doesn't fit any of the clichés. His relationships with others is probably what builds his character the most. When he leaves the crime squad, he is also leaving his partner and confidant, Ellen. Harry's relationship with his sister also helps to define him. He isn't a rebel or a maverick, and while he, at times, is on the outside looking in, he actually wants to belong. He desperately wants that light on his answerphone to be lit up when he comes home.One of the elements I found most stunning about this novel were the various parallels of man to nature. The imagery the nature analogies present is stunning, and their purposes multi-faceted. They are presenting themes in the novel but they also work to create foreshadowing. The novel ends on bit of a mysterious note, one that makes the reader suspect that we haven't heard the last of Harry Hole. And that's a good thing in my opinion.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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This is the first thing I’ve read by the Norwegian writer, Jo Nesbo, and it is very good. According to the blurb, The Redbreast was voted “Best Norwegian Crime Novel Ever Written” by members of Norwegian book clubs. This is a taut, well structured mystery with good characters and interesting, but plausible, plot twists that keep the pace moving. Police Detective Harry Hole, promoted to Inspector during this story for reasons of bureaucratic expediency rather than simply for his recognized talents as a detective, has had his problems with alcohol and a tendency to swim against the current. But here he falls into a mystery that has its roots way back in WWII when contingents of Norwegians fought for the Germans on the eastern front, in this case the northeastern front near Leningrad. Many of these men were imprisoned after the war as traitors, but Nesbo explores the moral certainties that are not always all that clear. A number of these men are still alive and become involved in the plot when Nesbo starts to investigate the secret importation of a special sniper rifle. Nesbo is also very good on the machinations of bureaucracy, the manipulation of issues and people sometimes for private aims, the one-upmanship that underlies the veneer of polite exchanges. You get a feel for Oslo, and for the challenges of modern Norwegian society integrating people from widely diverse ethnic backgrounds as well as the backlash that sometimes provokes. The main mystery is solved and Harry saves the day in some fast, action-packed moments at the end, but Nesbo does not wrap up all the loose ends. I assume, and hope, that Harry returns to pursue those. Recommended reading.
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