What Irish Farmerette thought of The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

I started this by saying The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo is the first of six books that feature Harry Hole as the main detective. However, accessing the Jo Nesbo site to get a picture of the novel, I discovered it is in fact the third of nine. Two precede it – called The Bat and The Cockroaches and there is a ninth too Phantom – so that means I have another three to find and enjoy :). Phantom was published in March of this year and the first two aren’t available in the UK for some reason.

I had read the other 5 and I hadn’t read The Redbreast before as I just never saw it on the shop shelves so I was delighted when others agreed to review it for our May book as it meant I put more effort into trying to find it – and succeeded!

Harry Hole seems to be the archetypal detective – single, drinks and smokes too much, has an on-off relationship with the love of his life but doesn’t pay her enough attention due to his devotion to his job, type of guy who doesn’t take any crap and never obeys rules from the top but yet is steadfastly honest, detesting all ‘scum’ and corruption. He is so loyal to his co-worker, those he likes that is. Although Ellen is younger than he, he learns much from her. Following her death, he continues to phone her ansaphone until it is disconnected and this serves to fill us in on the progress in the novel but also demonstrates his emotions on her murder and how much he misses her – as a friend, a confidante and a colleague.

There are a number of storylines in this novel, some of which are completed at the end of the novel (ie the murderer), the Norwegian involvement in WW2 and other occurrances such as the American Presidential visit to Norway. Others continue on throughout all six novels – such as why was Ellen killed? What exactly is Tom Waaler up to? Hole’s relationships with Rakel, with his colleagues, with his superiors, with alcohol and with himself.

How does it compare to the others?

It is written in a different style in that there are many flashbacks back to the WW2 which was intended to provide more of an insight into the character of the murderer and I found this to be really intriguing. ?It is also interesting to see Norway’s involvement in WW2 and how so many soldiers changed sides.

It explained the start of a few mysteries that are solved later in the others too – why Ellen was killed, what Tom Waaler was up to and the start of Hole’s relationship with Rakel.

It wasn’t as brutal as some of the later books and I sensed a kind of ‘testing of the water’ with some of the writing. ?The ‘reveal’ of the murderer did come as unexpected as there had been many ‘red herrings’ set up but it didn’t come across as sophisticated as the later books. That is meant to be a compliment by the way – it’s an excellent first book of the series and if you enjoyed this, you’ll love the following five. Nesbo’s new book ‘Headhunter’ is supposed to be excellent too and I look forward to reading it.

One thought on “What Irish Farmerette thought of The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

  • maya catz

    im in the same boat. read all the books except the bat, cockroaches and phantom….hurry and print the books in english..so we can enjoy harry hole.



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