It is 1944: Daniel, a soldier, legendary among the Norwegians fighting the advance of Bolshevism on the Russian front, is killed. Two years later, a wounded soldier wakes up in a Vienna hospital. He becomes involved with a young nurse, the consequences of which will ripple forward to the turn of the next century.
In 1999, Harry Hole, alone again after having caused an embarrassment in the line of duty, has been promoted to inspector and is lumbered with surveillance duties. He is assigned the task of monitoring neo-Nazi activities; fairly mundane until a report of a rare and unusual gun being fired sparks his interest. Ellen Gjelten, his partner, makes a startling discovery. Then a former soldier is found with his throat cut. In a quest that takes him to South Africa and Vienna, Harry finds himself perpetually one step behind the killer. He will be both winner and loser by the novel’s nail-biting conclusion.
The Redbreast won the Glass Key prize for the best Nordic crime novel when it was first published, and was subsequently voted Norway’s best crime novel. The Devil’s Star, Nesbø’s first novel featuring Harry Hole to be translated into English, marked Nesbø as a writer to watch in the ever more fashionable world of Nordic crime.
©2007 Jo Nesbo (P)2011 Random House Audio
The complexity of historical fact, multiple characters and hidden identities really made this a great read. Nesbo is Mankell with a brutal edge.
Lover of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, mystery, and westerns in all media, including old-time radio dramatizations.
After "The Bat," I thought I was unsure about this series. Now, I think I understand what it is. I completely enjoyed "Redbreast," but I'm still not won-over. Why? I think it's that I don't like Harry, himself. For new potential readers/listeners, Harry reminds me of Jesse Stone. I have to confess that I only know Jesse from the movies. Strangely, I liked that series of movies in a way that I can't really like Harry. Maybe it's the Tom Selleck effect, since they are similar characters. Some additional credit may go to the translator. I'm amazed at how well humorous elements translate. I would normally expect humor to be a highly cultural phenomena, but you would never know that the novel wasn't originally written in English.
I'm pretty sure I will get the next available installment, but I hope that Harry will become a less damaged character over time. I can only do so much of the damaged, whining, unreliable, drunk before I expect to see some improvement in character. I want characters that I can look up to, eventually. I tell you this so that you can judge for yourself. If you find a permanently damaged personality to be more "realistic," then Harry might be your guy.
This is not a book for the faint of heart. Nesbo's Harry Hole is Everyman, a flawed, guilt-ridden alcoholic who holds life precious, but sees it taken away from him in tragic circumstance. He's brilliant, though not quick. Nesbo's plot plods. Layer after layer of detail, that seems to make no sense until it all culminates in climax.
This is a book that I need to read/listen to a second time, and it is good enough to hold me through again. Robin Sachs has a voice like Isle of Islay whisky - dark, smokey and smooth as glass. My only difficulty with this book came with the unfamiliar Norwegian names. If I was reading it in print, I'm sure that difficulty would have been lessened, but I would have missed the whisky voice. I will see if it is available on WhisperSync. That would be an excellent coupling.
I found the Snowman and The Leopard to be more riveting, perhaps because the switching back and forth between the present day and 1940's World War 2 in this book caused some minor lapses in momentum. Nonetheless, learning about Norway's role in the war and the disillusion it caused some of it's soldiers was interesting. Robin Sachs as always was fantastic as the narrator. It is hard not to identify Harry Hole with Robin's voice. Jo Nesbo has become one of my favorite authors, and I hope new encounters with Harry Hole are in the offing.
Yes... to pick up some of the historical and cultural nuances I may have missed. Plus, the readers voice is so rich, it is fun simply to listen to him.
Yes... it just did!
Too many to mention
No, but I was generally on edge anticipating which shoe would be the next to drop.
All Nesbo books, particularly those feature Harry Holle, are wonderful.
Jo Nesbo is a wonderful mystery/chrime novelist. I would recommend him to anyone who loves the genre.
Harry Hole, the protagonist of the series.
With the surging popularity in Nordic Noir fiction, many audio books are springing up. Nemesis, I believe was for a long time the only audio book of Nesbo, narrated by Thor Knai. I am not sure why they used two other narrators for the remaining books. Neither Sachs nor Barrett come close to the reading of Knai. In fact I would rank them Knai, Barrett, and a distant last to Sachs. Unfortunately, Sachs got to narrate 5, Barrett 1 and Knai 1. Not sure what the producers were thinking, but this was a MAJOR blunder.
This review has three stars, because I am still not sure what I think of this book.
I admit there were times when I laughed out loud at the humour written into this story (e.g.., asking the woman he thinks is attractive, to help him push his Ford Escort because he forgot to park on a hill..., and rather than saying this happened, he simply makes mention of the dirt on her clean white gloves from pushing on the trunk.).
However, I was so confused at the start of the story, because it flashes backwards and forwards, tying the plot together, so that I wondered if it was mere convention to entice the reader. I also had a very difficult time keeping track of who was who, and that may be my fault, but I actually couldn't remember who the villain was supposed be, and it turned out I may have been wrong.
Norwegian writers are gaining a reputation as great mystery-thriller writers, but in this case I was more confused than surprised. I will definitely try another book by Nesbo, and feel confident that I will either love it or hate it.
I purchased both the Kindle version and audio version of this book, and I'm glad I did. This story was very difficult to follow with only the audio book. I believe it was difficult to follow for these reasons: 1) the beginning of the story jumps around to different time periods with no explanation why or early assistance understanding how the story's pieces fit together, 2) for an American reader, the Norwegian names are difficult to differentiate when spoken, so it takes quite a while to keep the characters straight. This markedly increases the difficulties caused by #1. Seeing the names written in the Kindle version helped a great deal, and 3) because of #1 and #2, if you are doing anything else while listening and lose your concentration for a second, you can miss very important details of the plot.
I did enjoy the book, found the story to be well crafted, and finished it. I'm certain that without the written version to refer to, I would have given up early on.
It was beautifully written. This is the first Jo Nesbo book I've listened to so far, but not my last.
I look forward to the rest of the series.
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