Tag Archives: Jo Nesbø

The Redbreast – Jo Nesbo

I treated myself to a copy of ‘The Redbreast’ by Jo Nesbo when I was in Matlock a few weekends ago after asking your advice on some crime writers as I started a major crime binge. If you don’t love crime novels fear not as I will be spreading the reviews from that reading binge over a few weeks on the blog. Nesbo seems like the man of the moment in terms of crime and has even been labelled ‘the next Stieg Larsson’ and so it seemed that he might be a good place to start, even though I don’t normally follow the hype. But if everyone is raving about someone there has to be something in it doesn’t there? It also appeared had quite a few fans in all of you, would I be hooked?

I am someone who has to read a series of novels in order, this does only apply to a series I don’t have to read an authors works in order at all. ‘The Redbreast’ is the earliest of the Harry Hole novels to have been translated from the original Norwegian and so it seemed the ideal place to start. As we meet Harry Hole for the first time he does something which could leave him without a job, as he accidentally shoots a secret agent he believes is an assassin, instead however due to the circumstances he actually gets a promotion which puts him in the path of another mystery as a rare and unusual gun seems to have come into the country. What could someone possibly want with such a weapon and how could it be used?

I have to say when this turn of events seemed to become more and more apparent I was beginning to think ‘oh no, I am not sure this assassin stuff is going to really be my kind of crime novel’ yet as Nesbo carries out Harry’s story he interweaves two other perspectives. One is again in the present day and sees an elderly gentleman acting most ungentlemanly in many ways both dealing with those on the wrong side of the law and also in murderous ways. We also get a very interesting back story set in 1944 (and becomes like a separate tale of war with both its battle fields and a love story) which Nesbo weaves and alternates on and off throughout the modern day tale combining a tale of the Nazi’s in the war with neo-Nazi’s in the present.

In fact in some ways it’s this rather different way of telling and setting up a crime novel that made it stand out. Before anyone jumps on that I am aware other authors will have done these historical tricks but this did actually feel different it was like reading a historical literary novel in some ways as well as a crime novel. I did occasionally find that Harry Hole, whilst interesting enough, was never quite fully drawn and riddled with those great modern crime detective clichés. He likes his drink, he doesn’t seem to relate to anyone else that he works with, he can’t seem to hold a relationship down, is a bit of a loner. I also didn’t find it as page turning as I had been initially promised as I was occasionally confused at what was going on with which of the many characters. But I was hooked in and did read it fairly quickly just taking a breather now and again to make sure I had caught up with it all in my old head. I cant say too much about the plot either because of this and because I don’t want to give too much away as I did guess how everything interlinked before Nesbo officially let me in on it.

I cannot say that ‘The Redbreast’ is the best crime novel that I have read, and indeed I have read some recently that far surpass it, but it’s a series I now want to read much more of. To say he is ‘the new Stieg Larsson’ I think actually discredits Nesbo (and not just because I didn’t get on with The Millennium Trilogy) because in the historical sections of the novel he has created something quite wonderful and unusual in the crime genre and I am left wanting to know if the rest of the series is as different. It’s a novel of two very different halves, both very good in their own ways, which Nesbo combines and weaves together until the finale. 7.5/10

Rather annoyingly ‘The Bat Man’ and ‘The Cockroaches’ which are the first two in the series and both sound intriguing titles haven’t come out in the UK yet though it would seem foolhardy not to considering how popular he has become in the last year or so. In the meantime I will carry on working my way through this series as I think its going to get better and better, and as luck might have it they all fell through the letterbox this morning. I am going to have to fight very hard not to read ‘Nemesis’ next…

I did find it interesting, and quite exciting, reading other reviews of this novel that ‘The Redbreast’ is seen by some of his fans as a weaker novel – is this true? Have you given into the Harry Hole hype and if so what did you think? Is this a series you have had on your radar, tempted?

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Filed under Jo Nesbo, Review, Vintage Books

Do I Want To Read… Criminal Authors; Val McDermid, James Ellroy & Jo Nesbø

I haven’t done a  ‘Do I Want To Read’ post on for a while but now seemed the perfect time. I don’t mean to bore you all with health issues at the moment but I think between the various waiting rooms I have managed to catch a corking cold and its put me in the mood for some crime anyway and I don’t mean cosy either. In fact what I have been hankering after is chilling and page turning crime and three authors have sort of been on my horizon who fit the bill for various reasons and who I wondered if you could recommend or not…

I was listening to one of my favourite book podcasts ‘The Book Show’ the other day and they repeated and interview with Val McDermid and her latest novel ‘Trick of the Dark’. Val McDermid is an author that I have always wanted to read and yet haven’t gotten round to. I actually got a copy of ‘Wire in the Blood’ ages ago and then a) found out it was the second in the series and I do like to read in order and b) the cover was atrocious (I think it was a magazine freebie) and I went right off it. Listening to her talking about her latest book, which also happens to be a standalone novel, I found her really compelling and so of course now I want to read all of her work. I have heard she is very chilling and it’s quite brutal which oddly, with flu and therefore furious at the world, is just what I am in the mood for right now.   

Another author I have wanted to read on and off is James Ellroy. I saw the film ‘The Black Dahlia’ a few years ago and was left rather confused and also really compelled, I thought ‘ooh I should read the book’ and then of course didn’t. I did the same with ‘L.A. Confidential’ actually thinking about it. Strolling through the City Library, which I will be reporting back on very soon, I caught sight of a What’s On pamphlet and saw that it was LGBT month and there is a regular book group which is ‘a monthly group for anyone who enjoys LGBT-interest fiction’ and one I thought with The Green Carnation Prize now back in swing (yes we are receiving submissions already) it might be interesting to pop by. Their next choice of novel is James Ellroy’s ‘The Big Nowhere’ so of course now I need to read the book. I am just worried it might be a little bit too hard boiled for me. What do you think?

Finally there is an author I seem to be seeing everyone reading, and who was recommended by a few of you when I tweeted my desire for chilling crime the other day and that was Jo Nesbø. I was actually sent ‘The Snowman’ a while back and passed it onto Novel Insights as ‘the new Stieg Larsson’ tag annoyed me (though oddly I have been mulling those over again after loving the films and being in this crimey mood) but I new she loved that series. It also bothered me that it seemed a bit Henning Mankell like an I had only read the first of those, and in fact must read the second at some point, and didn’t want to get my detectives confused. And yes the fact that it wasn’t the first in the series put me off too. Of course I am now intrigued and want to read the series from the start and apparently that’s ‘The Redbreast’ although on Wikipedia it says it’s ‘The Bat Man’ but that’s not out yet which leaves me in confusion, can any of you help and which have you read? Does the order matter?

So can you help? Recommendations on all three authors would be great, as would any specific thoughts on the titles that I have mentioned and pictured above or indeed any of the other titles by those very authors. I am looking forward to your thoughts, I have a feeling this is a post lots of you will be able to advise me on. Ooh, I just thought if there are any cracking crime authors I might have missed do let me know about those too!

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Do I Want To Read?