The Redbreast – Jo Nesbo

Harry Hole is back on his home turf of Oslo for this story which has a rather engaging and complex WWII back-story. Having spotted the illegal import of a type of rifle usually reserved for assassins, Hole is trying to track down the buyer while a series of murders appears to be related to his case. Investigating themes of nationalism, patriotism, neo-Nazism and long-held grudges from the Eastern front this story is a great step forward in storytelling by Nesbo.

There is the accustomed sprinkling of poetic imagery that you would expect from a retired songwriter and no shortage of red herrings and cliff hanger chapters. The chapters are doled out in lengths according to Nesbo’s pacing requirements and are sometimes as short as one paragraph – an informal style of delivery shared with the likes of Stephen King which certainly draws you in and makes you want to turn pages.

The main character is still prone to hitting the bottle to deal with the deaths that seem to accompany him in his chosen line of work, still awkward with women and still making mistakes. He has few friends, but loves the ones he has dearly and is cautious but wholly committed when he finds a woman he thinks he can start a meaningful relationship with. It’s all these qualities that make the character so endearing. Everyone likes a three-dimensional slightly maladjusted hero.

I have only one negative comment and that is that the storyline about his sister having been assaulted that appeared briefly in “Cockroaches” is nowhere to be seen in this book – but that is a rather minor point. “The Redbreast” is certainly the best Jo Nesbo book I have read so far.

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