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Perfect Scandi Crime: The Redeemer

The Redeemer: A Harry Hole Thriller (Oslo Sequence 4)The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo

Picking up where I left off with this series pre-pregnancy…
(Well, I actually read The Snowman out of sequence while pregnant, I just wasn’t thinking…)

A Harry Hole Novel: On a freezing December night Christmas shoppers have gathered to listen to a Salvation Army carol concert. A shot rings out and one of the singers is dead. There is no immediate suspect, no weapon and no motive. But when the assassin discovers he’s shot the wrong man, Harry finds his troubles have only just begun.

First Impressions: The series is just as good as I remember. Why did I take so long to get back into it?

Highlights: Who doesn’t adore Harry Hole? Confident but frail, his very subtle dark humour continues to entertain me. In this novel I loved the complex layers of the Salvation Army that shadow the investigation. I also like how Nesbo involves different nationalities and histories in his novels. It is very European: despite their differences, all countries share a past, present and future.

If I was an editor: I would beg Nesbo to keep the Harry Hole novels coming. I have The Leopard, the next one in the sequence, ready to go.

Overall: More Oslo perfection.

The Redeemer: 5 Stars

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Oslo Perfection: The Devil’s Star

The Devil's Star: A Harry Hole Thriller (Oslo Sequence 3)The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo

Harry Hole has plummeted into a drunken state of disarray at the start of this final novel in the Oslo Trilogy. Confronting Waaler about The Prince doesn’t help his situation and he seems stuck in a world of self pity and loathing.

One case does pique his interest: a serial killer seems to be targeting women randomly, cutting off one of their fingers and leaving a rare red diamond shaped as a Devil’s Star at the scene. Naturally, he is put on the case with Waaler so cue lots of sardonic conversation and wry observations from Harry. Tom even tries to recruit Harry into doing some underhand jobs for him. As I have said before, I love the relationship between these two men so was delighted to see Waaler have such a large role in this novel. Jo Nesbo fills in a lot of Waaler’s history and I was fascinated.

When the crime unravels towards the end of this book it is rather dark although not gory. Along with the Hole-Waaler dynamic it brings out Nesbo’s black humour.

In this novel, Harry’s alcoholism forces a division between him and Rakel. I was fine with this as I am not so taken with Rakel’s character but understand she is there as the forgiving and caring woman to highlight Harry’s inability to establish himself in a relationship.

As hooked as I was on this book, I thought the ending was somewhat overly dramatic. Nonetheless, it tied up the three books known as The Oslo Trilogy. I didn’t know what it was exactly that tied these books together but now that I have finished The Devil’s Star I can easily see the narrative arc.

I am going to continue working my way through the Harry Hole sequence of novels to see what he gets up to next. I strongly suggest that if you plan give the Harry Hole novels a go, read them in order so you can get the most out of them!

The Devil’s Star: 5 stars.

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Unadulterated Harry Hole: Nemesis

Nemesis: A Harry Hole Thriller (Oslo Sequence 2)Nemesis by Jo Nesbo

Nemesis is the second Jo Nesbo novel I have read as I journey through the Harry Hole novels in publication order. While I gave The Redbreast a smashing review in an earlier blog, in my mind Nemesis is far better. Regardless, I can see that reading the books in order is the best way to approach the series.

Harry is trying to solve an unscrupulous bank robbery caught on CCTV while secretly still investigating a colleague’s closed murder case on the side. If this wasn’t enough, after agreeing to catch up with an old flame, he wakes up in his own apartment realising he has been drugged. He has no memory of the previous night and later discovers his old flame has been found dead by an electrician.

What makes Nemesis so enjoyable is that there are none of the WW2 flashbacks that filled The Redbreast. Nesbo’s writing just felt a little flat and awkward during the WW2 chapters in The Redbreast as if he felt uncomfortable writing historical fiction. What this also means for Nemesis is that there aren’t two alternate plotlines and we are left with nothing but the Harry Hole experience. His character continues to grow on me. There’s nothing contrived about him as there sometimes may be with ‘rogue’ inspectors. In this novel Hole reminds me a bit of my beloved Lester Freamon in Season 5 of The Wire when he set up his off the grid investigation in Major Crimes.

I found Nesbo’s dark humour much more obvious in Nemesis and I loved Hole’s interactions with Waaler. I also appreciated the small things a lot more in this novel such as the authenticity of the music Hole, a man in his 30s, listened to and heard in the police cars. I can tell Hole is in the process of making the personal transition from feeling an obligation to fit in to just being content with his own oddities of character and not caring so much about social convention.

As with The Redbreast, Nemesis is international in scope. This time around, in addition to the migrants found in The Redbreast, there is a strong gypsy element, the war in Afghanistan frequently makes the news headlines and travel to outside Norway means a lot more than just a drive across the Swedish border. I really like this international scope as it challenges the stereotype of Norway being an isolated, homogenous society. Nesbo describes a vibrant, dynamic Oslo.

Bring on The Devil’s Star!

Nemesis: 5 stars

Three more crime books that have crept on my to read list thanks to Raven Crime Reads (criminally good read…):

The DispatcherThe Dispatcher by Ryan David Jahn. A local police dispatcher is about to finish his shift when he gets a call from his daughter who has been missing for seven years and has recently been declared dead.

The HealerThe Healer by Antti Tuomainen. Recently published Finnish crime. Helsinki is suffering from climate catastrophe when the wife of a poet goes missing. She was researching a killer known as The Healer. Is her disappearance linked to her research?

The Andalucian Friend: The First Book in the Brinkmann TrilogyThe Andalucian Friend by Alexander Soderberg. Sophie falls for Hector, not realising he is the head of an international crime syndicate.

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No Dragon Tattoos Here: The Redbreast

The Redbreast

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

I do appreciate exactly how behind the times I am to only be reading and reviewing The Redbreast now.

The Redbreast was a page turner and kept me intrigued for a few days. However, while all the hype around Jo Nesbo compares him to Steig Larsson, I don’t necessarily believe that to be the case. In my mind, Jo Nesbo is placed somewhere along the continuum between Harlan Coben and Steig Larsson. In all honesty, the complexity of plot and original characters created by Larsson make me doubt if another writer of his calibre will emerge any time soon. This being said, I can guiltily admit to not finishing The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. I gave up at the earlier end of about 60 pages of political history, losing the will to continue. I also lost some faith when two characters had the same name; this was explained in a footnote but for heaven’s sake, it is fiction. Change a name in order to avoid confusing the readers!

I found The Redbreast to be quite thought provoking. Set at the turn of the millennium, Nesbo’s crime story delves back into WW2, the Nazi invasion and Norwegian resistance. In some ways it is a novel of Nazism and Neo-Nazism, the two surprisingly at odds with each other. It left me thinking about choices faced by young men and women at the time and Nesbo creates a fascinating parallel between modern Norwegian society and the small elderly population who survived WW2. Feeling excluded from the modern, optimistic Norway, they are unable to move on from what happened in the war. I don’t know much about Norwegian history so I found all of this interesting.

Despite the fact no gaudy knitted jumpers are worn, I liked Harry Hole as a detective and will read more of his novels. After finishing The Redbreast I didn’t immediately begin Nemesis, the second book in the Oslo sequence, as I had hoped I would. If there was a bit more substance in the writing – especially the WW2 flashbacks – perhaps I would have. However, I am sure I will get back to Harry Hole quite soon as I found his adventures an enjoyable way to while away a couple of afternoons. As much as I am keen to see what happened to Harry in Australia, I am going to read the series in the order they were published in English.

The Redbreast: 4 Stars