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Publisher's Summary

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

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  • Joe
  • Kansas City, MO, United States
  • 06-03-12

Different For Nesbo, But Still Great

If you're like me then you found this book because you read the Snowman, loved it, and decided to read the whole series. And then, like me, this review is meaningless to you. You will buy it, without finishing the review, you will listen to it. You will love it. And then you'll buy the next one. So let me validate that decision. Do it. Buy the book. Buy the series. You'll LOVE it.

There, glad that's over with. The rest of you, then, have not read any of the Harry Hole series and have found that while there were two written before the Redbreast, this is the first on Audible. So you're wondering if, given the series' incomplete nature, it's worth reading. I'm glad you asked! YES, YES, YES, YES. It's worth it. This is an amazing series that only gets better with time.

In essence, the series is about a middle aged detective named Harry Hole who is lonely, sad and a recovering alcoholic. Not many people like him, but - as you would expect from a detective series - he's wonderful at his job. He better be, he has nothing else in his life. This book finds him involved with neo-natzis, brutal murders and a sad history with Norwegian solders who fought on the wrong side in WWII. We bounce through time as a tale of dispair and modern day aggression takes hold of your throat. And it doesn't let go.

As I said when i reviewed the Snowman. This series doesn't try and re-invent the wheel (a brilliant but disturbed detective, a series of murders, an investigation in the proverbial heart of darkness). You've seen this stuff before. What Jo Nesbo does is take these cliches and does them better, with more intelligence and more humanity and more depth than you've ever seen before. It's a wonderful series. And it begins here. So you might as well get started.

26 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard
  • Boston, MA, United States
  • 08-03-11

Better than the book!

Robin Sachs gives an outstanding reading to three of Nesbo's novels. Listen to this before Devil's Star and the Snowman. "Redbreast" should be the first. Skip the non-Sachs reading of "Nemesis" and go to "Devil's Star" second and then the Snowman. You will listen to all three if you listen to this. Sachs makes Harry Hole manifest more clearly than the book does. Addicting and great stuff. Set in Oslo and referencing Oslo's neo-nazis and gun-runners in its narrative.

30 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Santa Barbara, ca, United States
  • 07-01-11

The Redbreast

Excellent book - although the names and town names are very confusing to an American like me. Very John Le Carre'ish. Patient, layered, info in bits and pieces Book jumps around from WWII to the 1999-2000. Not as dark as I thought it would be. Nesbo is going on my list of authors to read more of. And the narration by Robin Sachs was excellent. Probably best if listened to in long sections for continuity.

Michael
Santa Barbara

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 05-16-11

Bravura writing

This book takes almost seventeen hours to listen to. It seemed much more like ten. Usually that is a result of nonstop action or riveting suspense. Instead Nesbo does it with bravura writing, by inexorably drawing us into a complex world, a fascinating character, a perplexing mystery, and making it almost impossible to look away. His pace is slow and steady, and the momentum toward confrontation does not begin to build until quite late in the book, but along the way the author constructs a web of history and relationship along with a structure of clues which keeps us fully engaged with Harry Hole and his obsession with finding the truth.

If I were going to compare Nesbo's writing with that of another master, it would be John LeCarre. He knows how to make seemingly nondescript details and low key encounters accumulate until they have terrific power and significance. The translator deserves major credit for this edition as well since the use of language is transparent and always effective.

Finally, someone found the perfect reader for the world Nesbo has created. Robin Sachs' smoky, matter of fact, world weary rendering of the story could not be improved upon. I felt as though I were listening to the story across a beer stained table in the back of a very local hangout in Oslo.

This book is the third in the series. I will definitely be going back to the beginning and enjoying the process of getting to know Harry Hole from the start.

44 of 46 people found this review helpful

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Harry Hole is brilliant, Nesbo's not bad either...

Nesbo's hero is no super agent, but he is a fascinating, brilliant detective. He doesn't shoot well or fight and he's an alcoholic. Red Breast is a great mystery, though the storyline seems a bit tedious. Nevertheless, it ends with surprise and twists. I loved it.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan
  • poplarville, MS, United States
  • 11-06-11

absolutely chilling

great mystery. well written, everything ties up nicely and the red herrings are well done. Robin Sachs is by far the best reader of the Nesbo books. Not for the squeamish, but thought this was top drawer of the Nesbo offerings on audible so far.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Thomas
  • FARMINGTON, NM, United States
  • 06-08-11

Great Crime Novel

This is a really exciting crime novel. I think the audio format was especially good for this book. The plot jumps around in time a bit. Chapter one happens before the next several chapters, and so on. Listening, instead of reading, heightened the sense of suspense.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Shauna
  • Pasadena, CA, United States
  • 11-08-11

History and Mystery

This was an excellent Harry Hole story that is laced with neoNazism of current day Norway and the real Nazism of WWII. The book provides a hard look at the actions of Norway citizens and royalty during that era. The mystery is always intriguing in a Jo Nesbo offering. I highly recommend it.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Layer upon Layer of Story.

A more masculine story switching from the modern neo-Nazi crime story to the WWII Norwegian soldiers in the trenches fighting on the German side. This is at the core a very Norwegian story of betrayal, traitors, & survival during the Nazi invasion of Norway. Layered upon the world scene of 1944 and 1999 and later are very personal stories. It is not chases down alleys nor car chases but it has exploding grenades & is thought provoking. I found it difficult to keep the multitude of characters straight but cared about tying all the story threads together. The writing made it worth the trouble.
The narrator was great, brought the story to life.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Polly
  • Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 02-16-12

Too complex but great Hero

One reason I bought this book was because someone compared Jo Nesbo to Stieg Larsson. I disagree. Although I love Harry Hole (hero of this book), I was not nearly as engaged by "The Redbreast" as I was by the Larsson books.

This is a mystery, psychological thriller, love story and history book rolled into one. I enjoyed learning about the conflicting roles Norway played during WWII, and I definitely enjoyed several of the main characters. But the story was hard to follow. Part of this is due to the unfamiliarity of the Norwegian names. I was initially so mixed up about who was who that I eventually wrote down the names (spelled phonetically) of each character as he/she was introduced. That helped.

The plot, however, of "The Redbreast" is so complex, bouncing back and forth between two time periods (1943-45 and 1999-2000), that I had to struggle to keep up. At the very end, I started the book over again to make sure I understood what had been revealed.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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