Harry does it again. The Redbreast Book Review

igeland Sculpture Park, Oslo

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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Værnes Church, Norway c 1085

Nidaros Domkirken
Nidaros Cathedral

One attraction that everyone comes to see in Trondheim, Norway, is Nidaros Cathedral and yet it is the nearby Værnes church in Storjdal that, for me, holds more fascination, at least in a historical sense.


Not only does the Værnes Church have a purpose-built ‘Weapons House,’ that dates back to Viking times, but  you get to see Viking age architecture in regular daily use and see some of Scandinavia’s earliest church frescoes.

Weapon house
The Weapon House

In the 11th Century, any self respecting, newly Christianized, Viking carried with them a range of knives, axes and other paraphernalia used in defence, and weapons such as these were banned from Church. When the Priest really wanted the new Christians to attend Church, he had to provide a purpose built structure to safely lock up any instruments of death. And so the Weapons House was built. Ten centuries on, I believe the ‘House,’ now accommodates nothing more deadly than a garden hoe or lawn cutter.   [Watch out for your toes].

Photo credit Spottinghistory.com

The interior of the church takes the visitor straight back to the 11th Century and is every bit as unique as the Weapon House. The roof trusses, pictured below, span 11 metres and are completely original. This is Viking carpentry at its finest and it is the only original roof of its type, still in existence. Notably, the trusses were used as a design template in reconstructing the roof of Nidaros cathedral and Håkonshall in Bergen.

Værnes kirke, Stordal, Norway
Værnes Church at Stjørdal dates back to 1085 AD and is the oldest church in Norway.

What you see above you, at Værnes, is what a Viking saw ten centuries ago.

A raised and carved chair (c 1685), see above, was constructed as the private pew of General Von Schultz, the local Squire. It makes me slightly recoil to tell you this but, the wooden lattice ‘cage’ below was for the wives to sit, ( either Von Schultz or the Pastor’s wife. It is embarrassingly even referred to as a ‘wife’s cage.’ Awful, I know, but that is history.

Detail in the carving

Faces carved into the interior of this elevated chair are thought to depict the face of Von Schultz, but no one is quite sure of that. To me, some of them more resembled a gargoyle or the “north wind.”

Vaernes kirke
Frescoes on the walls of the church in Stjørdal

The wall mural  pre-dates the carved pulpit and is also original. Echoes of a world now past.

The significance of this fresco is lost in time

A fresco on the wall that looks like a hood from a pulpit remains a mystery to historians. The meaning and significance of this symbol has been lost.

Threatened by the Nazis during the war years, with their intensive infrastructure plans for a military base and airport, at Trondheim, Værnes Church survived and is still used for church services today. In fact, the church is so popular for baptisms and weddings, it is booked out many months and sometimes, years in advance.

Trondheim Værnes
Værnes Kirke – Just outside Trondheim airport

Make a small detour from Værnes Lufthavn, (Trondheim airport), to Stjørdal, in Norway and you can walk the path of history.

Entrance to the church

Værnes Kirke is an important link to the past and something to ponder about. Linking to Jo’s Monday Walks – a tad earlier

Living History at Røros

Røros World Heritage Site – The Church

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Røros Church in Norway – its reputation preceded it and my only chance to visit was offered to me when I was in Trondheim, Norway. Of course, I leapt at the chance. Walking through a living World Heritage Site, is not something one gets to do every day. Built during Norway’s golden age of copper mining, the church in Røros dates back to 1780 and is nestled amongst classical Norwegian village architecture.

Walking around the town’s old Wooden houses

Initially the church was closed and locked when I arrived, but my intrepid Norwegian friend was not to be deterred and energetically sought out a nearby caretaker who lived in one of the neighbouring wooden homes, who was then kind enough to open the church and give the “Australian,’ a short tour.

This was greatly appreciated.

The guide told us the church has been extensively renovated and restored in recent years, as it frequently plays host to popular concert series and services, often attended by the Norwegian Royals.  Isn’t it stunning?

Roros Norway
Some photos from my walk around the old mine site

Røros is a town high up in Eastern Norway, not far from the Swedish border. Dotted with historic wooden houses and the large copper mine turned museum, the copper mine flourished from 1644 right up until 1977.

bucket mine Norway

The mine is now a museum and the town’s Instagram-worthy architecture has been reincarnated as home to a range of craft artisans, gourmet food purveyors selling their local products, such as cheese and flatbread, in Instagram- worthy shops, as well as boutique objects popular with tourists. The walk along the main street is a delight.

The working life of the town’s citizens in the past was never easy, being as it was, a mining frontier town set high in the mountains on the border of Sweden. Conditions in the mines were neither comfortable nor healthy, it seems and the citizens a resilient lot, coping with difficult work and the threat of marauding Swedes over the border. You can re-live a little more of their history and life in the extensive displays at the museum, located at the mine’s site.

[Note: Signs were in English.]

roros mine
Walking inside the copper mine

Contrastingly, modern day Røros is peaceful quiet and colourful. The old wooden houses are beautifully maintained and the town continues to be a World Heritage Site in which people actually work and live out their daily lives.

Every February, the town hosts an annual Winter festival. I imagine there would be quite a different colour on the ground this time of year than when I completed my walk in early Summer.

Roros

Røros is also a place that tries to re-invented itself from its mining past by being sustainable and enjoyable for visitors. They try to preserve local nature, culture and environment, and tourists love it. I wrote more on a prior post about the history of Røros and its Mining Museum.

Something other regional towns might ponder about.

Linking to Jo’s Monday Walks

Christmas – Around the World

Merry Christmas from Something to Ponder About –

Here are a few snippets of Christmas past spent in various parts of the World. The spirit remains strong and the family connections, despite whatever corner of our globe we live in. May your Christmas be Merry and Bright!

Glædelig jul – Christmas in Denmark

Denmark

God jul – Christmas in Norway

A Norwegian Christmas

Norwegian National dress is worn at Christmas

European Christmas

Frohe Weihnachten! An Austrian, German and Swiss Christmas

Innsbruck christmas
Christmas in Austria
Christmas markets Europe
German Christmas Markets
Lucerne christmas
In Switzerland playing traditional horns
Innsbruck
‘Statues’ in Innsbruck at Christmas

Japanese Christmas

Merri Kurisumasu

Australian Christmas

And in Australia, we celebrate too even though it is hot and humid…. but we try to stay cool!

Christmas in our backyard pool!

Merry Christmas

from Amanda at Something to Ponder About

Merry Christmas is different around the world, and yet the same!!

Monday Mystery Photo – Last time Norway

Every second Monday, I post a photo of a ‘mystery’ location, and sometimes a mystery object. 

I invite you to leave a comment if you think you know the location, or what the mystery object might be.

 

This Week’s Monday Mystery Photo

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Can you guess the location?

If you guess correctly, I will link back to your blog in a post the following Monday, when the answer is revealed.

Comments will be released later in the week, (Thursday Australian E.S.T.), so as not to spoil the fun for latecomers to this post.

The Mystery photo this week comes from Amy P from the Blog Tesserolo.  Many thanks to Amy for the use of her photo.

If you also have a travel photo you would like featured on Monday Mystery, please leave a comment or contact me on my email which you will find on the Contact page.

You can also find my email by hovering over my Gravatar and viewing my Profile information.

Last Time on Monday Mystery

Ted from recipereminiscing.wordpress.com has been a very welcome regular commenter on Monday Mystery, but his gorgeous photo comprised the very last MMP for 2017.

It was of course, the very famous Vigeland Sculpture park in Oslo, Norway.

  Thanks Ted for the photo!

This photo was taken on New Year’s Eve some years back, and strangely enough, both Ted and Myself were at the park on that very night!

Although we did not know of each other then!!! The snow fell right on midnight following the annual Fireworks display lighting up the sky.

A wonderful moment for a traveler in Norway!

Congratulations to Drake for correctly guessing the location.

Who will guess the location this time?

Something I do Ponder About

– Amanda

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