Thursday, January 31, 2008
Pick of the Month: The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo
The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo
Protagonist: Det. Harry Hole
Setting: Oslo, Norway
Ah, another Scandinavian writer, I thought. In recent years, seems there's been a raft of excellent crime writers from Nordic countries: Arnaldur Indidason, Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum, Hakan Nesser, Asa Larsson and Ake Edwardson. Now add Jo Nesbo to the list.
In The Redbreast, he has written an intricate and long (521 pages) book. I had to make notes just to follow. But even with notes, Nesbo takes you on such a complicated, twists-and-turns journey that the ending is still a stunner. The action keeps shifting between 1942, when some Norwegians joined and fought with the Nazis, to present day (1999-2000), when some of their actions come back to haunt them. Harry Hole, an alcoholic prone to falling off the wagon under stress, has been promoted from the Crime Unit to POT (the security service unit) because of a mistake he has made and which his bosses want covered up. He's shuffled off to do paperwork, but Hole doesn't go quietly. He takes what seems a small item buried among the paperwork and starts following the clues, while a killer hunts down those who were part of a small unit at the Eastern Front. Part police procedural, part mystery and part thriller, The Redbreast gets my pick of the month, hands down. And best yet: there's a second in this series: The Devil's Star.