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Harry does it again. The Redbreast Book Review

Norway

It is 1942: a Norwegian soldiers fighting on the Eastern front, on the German side, is killed. One of his comrades, injured in the same incident, falls in love with a Austrian nurse whilst recuperating.

57 years later, a Detective in Oslo with the unlikely name of Harry Hole is appointed to the Norwegian secret service, his brief is to monitor Neo-Nazi activity in Norway: a fairly mundane assignment that turns out to be anything but….

Norway Akerhus
Akershus fortress in Oslo where scenes in the book are set

 

With many parallels to recent world events and rising anti-multicultural sentiment, Nesbø’s, ‘The Redbreast‘, (which won the Glass Key, the Riverton and the Norwegian Book club Prize for the best ever Norwegian Crime Novel),  will take the reader both on a historic and also a contemporary journey.

Chillingly ironic and yet at times, familiar were some of the attitudes found amongst the more despicable characters in the book. It digs deep into the hearts and minds of those Norwegians who felt passionate enough to risk their lives, fighting alongside and for the Nazis, during the war. They believed in saving Norway from, what they saw, was the Bolshevik advance.

The Novel delves into their individual motives and how they might have felt on their return to Norway, when they discovered they had been labelled ‘traitors,’  shunned by their own society after war’s end; a topic rarely written about in the Western world.

 

statue

 

A different perspective can reveal things hitherto unseen, and at times, I was surprised I that Ifelt a little sympathy for these men, despite philosophically being poles apart from them.  It made me question the modern politic climate of Norway. The massacre on Utøya, Norway and now the terrorist attack on the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, which appears to have links to Utøya, made me wonder  if there might be some more citizens with these beliefs, hidden surreptitiously, under a guise of normality. Let’s hope not.

 

Oslo fjord
Oslo fjord

The Good: Following a hunch that several murders are linked, Harry pays a high personal price in the book, but still manages to find a little romance in all the horror. I found this an unlikely but interesting diversion, but it provides Hole with a clue vital in solving the mystery.

The Bad: Although we know the killer’s mind from the start (but not who he is), he remains carefully hidden through out the book, his actions being explained by a slightly unbelievable trip to a psychiatrist.

The Ugly: One wonders how many readers might feel sympathy for these “traitors” or even perversely idolize them as historic “warriors,” using this as justification for the Neo Nazi  “thuggish” behaviour. I am not sure.  Yet there is still the theme of redemption offered up to readers too, albeit in small amounts.

This was the first of the Harry Hole series to be translated into English, and since then, every book in the series has been translated and was a best seller.

Recommended for those who like Nordic Noir/Scandi Detective fiction and have not yet read Harry Hole.

StPA’s Rating: 7/10

 

 

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Book review

Headhunters – Jo Nesbø

Headhunters by Jo Nesbø The Movie

 
My previous review of this book/movie is reproduced below. I will also discuss the movie though it is not so new anymore.
Headhunters – the MOVIE
The movie has kept true to the book, although frustratingly two scenes that I felt were important and hilarious were left out. And as such, one has a deeper understanding of the plot than those who haven’t read the book. Isn’t this always the way it goes? Roger Brown was not as strong a character as I imagined, but the Director had to transmit to the audience, in one and half hours, the impotentce he felt being small,  and what a “small ” man metaphorically he turned out to be. Albeit damn clever!! I wished that the movie was longer, and we don’t get to see enough of the beautiful countryside that is Norway. Still, all in all, I think that those unfamiliar with Nesbø will like it. The girlfriend that accompanied me liked it, and Roger did win her over part way through the movie, but she was a bit squeamish about some of the more graphic scenes. Of course, they did not bother me nor would they bother anyone who worked in the medical fields, or watched splatter/horror films… 


What they could have done better: Explained the twists and turns of the plot, which I think would help to build suspense.
What they did well: Perfect portrayal by the Clas Greve actorBOOK REVIEW
Wow… it seems incredible, but each book I have read recently becomes my latest Favourite author/novel. This is a little ridculous, but true. Why is that? 
Well I can make this claim because I have read this book from Jo Nesbø.

Nesbo has departed from the Harry Hole series in this superbly written first person story.Those averse to novels written in the first person will find it hard going, but if you can cope with that, it is an excellent book and if you haven’t read Nesbø before, I can assure you that you will again. 

Offering an insight to the world of economics and business recruitment. (no doubt Nesbø drew upon his former profession as a source for this book), this is not the usual murder mystery but a little bit of a love story, or at least besotted love, part art history/theft story and mostly  psychological thriller, as the reader is manipulated into different directions by the twists and turns of this story. The characters, particularly the protaganist Roger Brown, were utterly believable, and his background and mindset, so carefully woven in to the story. However the crowning glory of this book was the fact that you could never anticipate the ending, no matter what.  

Roger Brown, albeit a man of short stature, (which is the bane of his existence), is the epitome of business success with a perfect track record of recruitment, but has a dark secret that even his stunningly beautiful wife, ( who appears to be equally besotted with him) is unaware. Does she have secrets too? Why  is her heart so sad? Enter another man who intervenes in their lives in a most unexpected but equally manipulative way with deadly consequences.


The police are not present in this story, and this is in contrast to Nesbø’s other Harry Hole’s stories. You are Roger Brown and experience all that he experiences, even the black humour and dire situation he finds himself in when trying to elude his pursuer. This scene, which I won’t detail as it will spoil it, is so completely original and hilarious at the same time and cemented my admiration for this writer. Who else could inject black humour in to the totally serious psychological thriller, but Nesbø?


Becoming a motion picture I hope will add interest to Nesbø’s work, and this work in particular. Released in Oslo 2011.


The good:  Enthralling, riveting, edge of your chair thriller, which CANNOT be put down, and this, always a hackneyed phrase, is more than accurate, in this instance. I had to finish this book in one session. Final plot twist, and all those before it as well.


The bad:   One particular scene, where the protagonist eludes his pursuer in the most unlikely of places.Hilarious, yet bad..

The ugly:  Description of a liaison gone wrong, with a female women who was not Roger’s wife.


This really has to be read…… only wish I could write like this….what a talent….

Some of the died in the wool Nesbø fans did not like this book/movie, though I am confused specifically how. Something I  will ponder about.

Book review

Jo Nesbø – The Devil’s star

Cover of "The Devil's Star"
Cover of The Devil’s Star

BOOK REVIEW:

The Devil’s star  by the Wonderful JO NESBO – Harry HOLE ( hoola) series

There is a serial killer on the loose in Oslo, but the murders are not sexually motivated. Harry Hole is the only detective with serial killer expertise in the Norwegian police force,  having brought down a killer in Sydney,in what was the first book of the series. (“Bat” published in Norwegian) With Harry Hole on  a downhill spiral of drinking too much booze and insomnia due to his own mental torture of recurring nightmares, arch enemy Tom Waaler heads up the investigative team, however Hole’s boss asks unofficially for Harry’s help, even though Harry’s services are to be terminated in 3 weeks time, because of his failure to turn up for duty on more than one occasion due to his inebriated state.

In true, Harry style, he pursues this killer unofficially, a puzzling crime by someone who has left a trademark red diamond in the shape of a star on each of his victims. Harry has to find the Question to ‘why’ and not ‘how’ or ‘who’, in order to crack the cryptic code the killer has left. Time is running short and Harry is under pressure to find the killer before the fifth victim dies, but is forced to work alongside Waaler…. can he cope?

Touted as the next Stieg Larson, which is in itself, ironic, as Jo was writing and publishing books many years prior to Larson’s Millenium trilogy, the reader can expect a  multitude of plot twists and turns in Nesbo’s book, and likewise, should expect to be intrigued when the crime is solved only part way through the book. Therefore, one is not surprized when events suddenly take a different turn, and the reader is then led to believe that all that meets the eye is not real…. Nesbo will give you clues, but highly doubtful that most ordinary readers will pick them up. I certainly didn’t.

Loved the Devils’ Star even though I hated the title. I look forward to the next instalment of Harry’s adventure. I could not fault Harry interpretation of events unofficial investigation; Unlike Camilla Lackberg’s series, where the detective often bungles the investigation, to this reader’s total frustration!)

The good: Fantasticly woven crime thriller story that keeps you guessing

The bad:   The Title – a bit unimaginative I think…..

The Ugly: the severed fingers and what is under the fingernails…

Rating: 4.5 out of 5, only because I find it difficult to give a 5 out of 5 for anything.

Can’t wait to start the Redeemer, next in this series.

A few weeks ago, Jo Nesbo was touring Australia and quite openly admitted to taking some scenes in the Leopard “too far. He “regrets this”, he said.  He also mentioned that he has a plan to eventuallly kill/retire the Harry Hole character. He knows how he will do it, but not yet when….

Chronology of Harry Hole series translated to English

1. The Redbreast- reviewed here http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=504112467947203806#editor/target=post;postID=7000598131250317883

2. Nemesis

3.The Devil’s star

4. The Redeemer –

5. The Snowman – TBR

6. The Leopard   – TBR

7. The Phantom  – TBR

 

( the “Bat” is the first book in the Harry Hole series but is now in English)

As I reading that now, I will ponder some more before I post a review.