Jo Nesbo

The Redbreast

""Harry Hole is a flawed but likeable hero." "


Harry Hole and his police partner, Ellen Gjelten, are assigned to security duties when the President of the United States visits Norway. Because of poor communication between the security forces Harry ends up accidentally shooting a US Secret Service Agent. For political reasons Harry is promoted to Inspector and moved to a different job out of the limelight.

Harry becomes involved with investigating the doings of a group of neo Nazis and their actions against immigrants. He comes across racist attitudes even within his own force but is unaware of the extent of the new right connections.

Parallel to the present day happenings in Norway there is a sub plot which involves a group of Norwegian soldiers who fought for the Reich in the Second World War. We gradually learn what happened to these soldiers in Russia on the front line, in Vienna towards the end of the war and, finally, in modern Norway.

The brutal murder of Harry Hole's friend and former colleague Ellen devastates him and he comes off the wagon and slides into a drunken state. Slowly, he pulls himself together again as he investigates the murder.

Finally, the various strands come together as the events of over fifty years ago reach out into the present day…

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Here is the second novel by an author we reviewed on our Fresh Blood page in 2005. This is a major and complex story, which addresses some important issues in today's world as well as in Norway's history. Harry Hole is a flawed but likeable hero. He is a good detective who achieves results but pays little attention to the politics of the workplace. He is a good friend who is devastated by the brutal murder of his colleague. The description of the attitudes and behaviour of some Norwegians during and after the war in relation to National Socialism was enlightening and reminiscent of one of Henning Mankel's novels about Sweden. I enjoyed the way in which the reader is left guessing about how the old and the new relate and it is only at the very end that all is made clear. A very good read.

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