The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

The Redbreast

Harry Hole #3

Hardcover: 528 pages.
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 006113399X

1944. In the trenches outside Leningrad on the Eastern Front a unit of Norwegian soldiers in German uniforms fight for the cause they believe in: a free Norway. Coming from all social strata, they do not share politics or a motivation for being there. The boldest of them, Daniel Gudeson, is shot and his body is laid in a mass grave to be burned. Some time later, however, in a military hospital in Vienna, a wounded soldier turns up saying that he is Daniel Gudeson. And he and a nurse, Helene, fall in love. When the soldier is called up by the Wehrmacht to be sent to certain death on the southern section of the Eastern Front, the two of them plan their escape.

1999. An old man goes out into the streets of Oslo after receiving his death sentence from the doctor. He thinks about the war. He knows that he has one final mission to undertake before dying.

After accidentally shooting an American secret service agent during President Clinton’s visit to Norway, Harry Hole has, to his own bemusement, been moved to POT, the secret service unit, and promoted to the rank of inspector. And packed off to an office to sift through a report on a low-priority case: a suspected gang of arms dealers with possible links to nests of old and new Nazis. An ex-Eastern Front soldier is found dead in Oslo and Harry gradually uncovers leads not only to the present time but to the past and the war and – most scary of all – the near future.

The Redbreast was awarded with The Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize 2000 for Best Novel of the Year. In 2004, Norwegian book clubs voted The Redbreast as the Best Norwegian Crime Novel Ever Written. In addition, The Redbreast was shortlisted for the 2007 Duncan Lawrie International Dagger.

“This is chilling, spectacular stuff, and anyone looking for serious compelling, crime writing need look no further.”
-Mark Billingham

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“My most personal novel. I used both sides of the family as models and did loads of research on soldiers at the Eastern Front. It was a strange feeling writing The Redbreast because I knew from the first page it was strong material. It was a question of being careful and not destroying it.”

Jo speaks about The Redbreast

A trailer on The Redbreast from Jo’s publisher in the UK, Harvill Secker

”Reading The Redbreast is like watching a hit movie. Author Jo Nesbo’s scenes are so vivid that you can imagine them playing across the big screen. The pacing is swift. The plot is precise and intricate. The characters are intriguing. And the novel combines two of the best cinematic genres: war sagas and crime thrillers. . . Nesbo, a Norwegian himself, has won European literary awards but is essentially unknown to Americans. That should change. In Don Bartlett’s translation, Nesbo leads readers with ease from episodes of violence to romance to pathos. And sometimes he beautifully blends all three into one sequence, such as when the nurse and the soldier share their last dance while Allied bombs rain down on Vienna. Hole may resemble too much the stereotypical hard-edged but soft-hearted detective who battles his demons, but he”s still worth rooting for as Nesbo deftly challenges him with expanding criminal and political intrigue. Through Hole’s story, Nesbo also offers insight into a Norwegian society still coming to terms with its role in World War II. Like Harry, The Redbreast is surprisingly witty at times and often grim. But it’s always smart.”
USA Today (USA)

*Starred Review*
“A lengthy and complex story with subplots involving an old man dying of cancer and flashbacks to World War II and the role of Norwegians who fought for Hitler on the eastern front; one of the more fascinating detectives in modern crime fiction; and a welldrawn, engaging set of secondary characters make this one of the best new series of 2007. Highly recommended for all libraries.”
Library Journal (USA)

“Required Reading”
The New York Post (USA)

“Pristinely translated by Don Bartlett, Nesbo’s book eloquently uses its multiple horrors to advance a disturbing argument: suppressing history is an open invitation for history to repeat itself. . . an elegant and complex thriller.”
New York Times Book Review (USA)

“This is a fine novel, ambitious in concept, skillful in execution and grown-up in its view of people and events. In important ways it’s also a political novel, one concerned with the threat of fascism, in Norway and by implication everywhere. . . The Redbreast is an admirable meditation on how, generation after generation, the ugliest human instincts manifest themselves in a criminality that calls itself politics. . . [it] certainly ranks with the best of current American crime fiction.”
Washington Post (USA)

“…utterly delicious. You never get the feeling Nesbo is writing by the numbers – his sense of pace is unerring, and the way he builds up suspense in parallel montages will incite Pavlovian page-turning. By the end, events happen so quickly that you barely have time to realize that one of the most sinister characters has managed to evade scrutiny. Is a sequel in the air? It can’t come fast enough.”
Time Out New York (USA)

“Norwegian detective Harry Hole is immersed in a mystery with roots in World War II in this brilliant evocation of how the tentacles of the past cling to the present, and are the true instigators of action. This powerful novel delves into the complexity of belief and collaboration, and rises above the genre.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (USA)

“I’m hooked on Jo Nesbo. In his home country of Norway, Nesbo is a multi award-winning crime novelist who’s been on the scene for a decade. The Redbreast, his second adventure in the Harry Hole detective series, was voted Best Norwegian Crime Novel Ever Written by members of Norwegian book clubs. Now it’s our turn to enjoy. Imagine the very best of Michael Connelly and Ian Rankin combined; he’s that good… The Redbreast is a heft 520 pages, but the action keeps it going like a juggernaut. Nesbo uses history and his parent’s war memories as a charred background to jumpstart political events as real as today’s headlines.
Madison County Herald (USA)

“…Seriously absorbing, the novel includes several star-crossed romances, neo-Nazis, and the deliberate poisoning-by- injection of an oak tree.”
Entertainment Weekly Magazine (USA)

*Starred Review*
“Shifting effortlessly between the last days of WWII on the Eastern front and modern day Oslo, Norwegian Nesbø (The Devil’s Star) spins a complex tale of murder, revenge and betrayal /…/ Perfectly paced and painfully suspenseful, this crime novel illuminates not only Norway’s alleged Nazi ties but also its present skinhead subculture. Readers will delight in Hole, a laconic hero as doggedly stubborn as Connelly’s Harry Bosch, and yet with a prickly appeal all his own.”
Publishers Weekly (USA)

*Starred Review*
“Nesbo has been one of Norway’s leading crime-fiction authors for 10 years, and his American debut shows why /…/ The linking of past and present through alternating story lines is a common technique in crime fiction, but Nesbo uses it superbly here, with the two plots interacting dynamically and adding context to our understanding of the central theme in contemporary Scandinavian crime fiction: the rise of racism and hate crime in the post-iron curtain era. But beyond that, Nesbo has a terrific feel for character, and Hole, while sharing characteristic with so many similarly melancholic modern cops (including, of course, Mankell’s Kurt Wallander), carves a place of distinction for himself in a crowed field.”
Booklist (USA)

“[A] bold, ambitious thriller. . . Nesbø bids fair to turn Norway into serious competition for Sweden as Scandinavia’s crime center.”
Kirkus Reviews (USA)

“A complex, utterly captivating story”
Evening Standard (UK)

“Exciting, witty, melancholy and thought-provoking…”
The Daily Telegraph (UK)

“Flawlessly paced, it’s a page-turner you won’t want to put it down, with fascinating characters to boot. Fab.”
Time Out (UK)

“Nesbo clearly demonstrates his skill at executing expertly-crafted, well-paced thrillers that he sustains to the very end in a compelling fashion.”
Sunday Express (UK)

“A thriller with a brilliant plot, full of surprises, and with a captivating main character.”
Il Sole 24ore (Italy)

“From the land of Knut Hamsun, a bestselling writer with an intelligent crime story. Harry Hole is a very particular detective, a true human being with frailties and a brooding dark side.”
Il Giornale (Italy)

“Splendid. The Redbreast is full of excitement, of surprises and the keywords are – guilt, betrayal, power and love. Nesbø has written a dazzling novel.”
Aftenbladet (Norway)

“An unbelievably well constructed, dazzling good book.”
Jydske Vestkysten (Denmark)

“This is simply a top class thriller!”
Helsingborgs Dagblad (Sweden)

“A Scandinavian masterpiece.”
Der Tagespiegel (Germany)


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