Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Redbreast

Jo Nesbo
Translator: Don Bartlett
Harper Paperbacks
September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-206842-2
544 pages

How long does it take for someone to finally succeed with revenge?

Harry Hole is a former alcoholic Norwegian detective that believes in doing the right thing, even if it is not politically correct. Harry is searching for a neo-Nazi, Sverre Olsen while also stopping an assassination of a world leader. Having to make a split-second decision, Harry shoots a Secret Service agent, possibly paralyzing the man permanently. True, the Secret Service agent should not have been where he was, but should he have been shot? Harry did not see that he had any choice.

In World War II, Norwegians were in a touchy situation with wondering whether to side with the Germans or the Russians. Many realized that they needed to be on the side of the victors, but it was difficult to tell which side would win.

The Redbreast was voted the best Norwegian crime novel ever written by members of Norwegian book clubs. The Redbreast is a novel that was confusing for me for the first hundred pages. When a novel is translated from its original language, I always wonder if what I am reading is the skill of the writer or the translator. It moved from the Norwegians fighting in World War II, to Harry Hole searching for Sverre Olsen in present time, to Harry at the police station, to Harry investigating with his female partner, and seemed to make few connections. After that, the novel was completely mesmerizing.

The story lines combine in a present day terrorism situation based on events resulting from World War II. The history of Norway’s involvement with World War II is fascinating and informative from a perspective that has not formerly been addressed. The duality of Norway’s geography placed them in a treacherous situation constantly between two powerful adversaries or allies, Germany or Russia. The characterization is a little weak but this is the third book in a series. Possibly this development is in the first two novels.

Jo Nesbo’s books have already been translated into forty languages. Currently The Redbreast is the third book in a series of nine featuring Harry Hole. The first two are not available in this country yet but most of the other ones are published in English.

The Redbreast is definitely one of the most intense and enthralling novels I have read this year. I plan on reading many more novels by this gifted author, Jo Nesbo.

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