Tag Archives: Jo Nesbo

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

Because It Can’t Always Be About Reading…

I am still happily bubbling along devouring both Jo Nesbo (or is it Jo Nesbø, it’s been confusing me this week) and Deborah Devonshire but very slowly. In fact despite the fact that both these books are brilliant in rather opposite ways and I could quite easily read them in a sitting or two I am finding that taking my time and letting the enjoyment last is really working for me. I’ve even given myself most of today, which is a day off, a break from reading. I might do some this evening, I might not. I have lots of other things that I quite fancy catching up on…

My listening of podcasts seems to have gone down the pan, I mean I am seriously behind with The Archers and all that’s going on in Ambridge, plus I am a few weeks behind with The Book Show etc, etc. Another one and I never know if this is the true book lovers enemy or not and no I don’t mean the e-reader, and that is the TV! I have lots and lots of TV to catch up on and sometimes it’s much needed just for a switch off… or switch on as the case maybe.

I have been hearing really good things about ‘The Big C’ which has only just come to the UK and I love Laura Linney and will be intrigued to see how they deal with terminal cancer in a comedy. It seems to have found the right balance with Linney getting a Golden Globe. I haven’t watched the grim soap opera Eastenders for ages so that needs some catching up. Then there is Glee, I seem to have been really behind with that for its second series. But even my TV viewing can’t be completely book free.

I will have to catch up on a series which I have heard lots about on the radio, when I have managed to catch some of it, and that’s ‘Faulks on Fiction’ which is a new series on the BBC where the author Sebastian Faulks talks us through the history of the novel and in particular the British novel. It’s in four parts titled things such as ‘The Hero’ and ‘The Lover’.  After reading Faulks wonderful ‘Birdsong’ which I thought was a fantastic British novel it will be interesting to see what he has to say on the subject. If that wasn’t enough there is an accompanying book, though I think that you can read it separately I am guessing, which I have been seeing in Waterstones and wanting to read. I will have to report back on the show and let you know, I have also just spotted a show called ‘Beautiful Books’ I will have to take a gander at!

So what do you do in your spare non-reading time? Have any of you seen or read ‘Faulks on Fiction’ at all?

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Filed under Book Thoughts

A Peak Book Buying Binge

I know I said I’d not post too many ‘books in’ posts BUT I seem to have had my first severe book buying binge since my year of not buying books. So I thought I should share it with you!

I have been in Matlock, for a little break, for less than 48 hours so far and my book buying had had a little ‘Matlock Meltdown’ as I have been on a slight book binge through the second hand shops and even, oh dear you may judge me, Sainsbury’s and am the proud owner of 6 new books!!!

I know that supermarket book buying is sometimes deemed a crime but they had 2 for £7 and I had turned up with three books I didn’t really fancy reading just at the moment and their was the first in the series, well that has been translated at least, of Jo Nesbø’s books and I’ve wanted the Catherine O’Flynn for ages, hang on let me share a picture of my spoils…

Murder on the Green – Lesley Cookman
Murder by the Sea – Lesley Cookman
My Judy Garland Life – Susie Boyt
The News Where You Are – Catherine O’Flynn
A Darker Domain – Val McDermid
The Redbreast – Jo Nesbø

I’m holding some of you responsible because of your feedback on McDermid and Nesbø the other day! I had to buy the Lesley Cookman books because I have been promising myself a read of them since Lesley was my co-judge on last years Green Carnation Prize Panel! Oh and the Susie Boyt book has been recommended to me sooo many times by those who know how much I ridiculously love the Wizard of Oz (I have dish cloths and all sorts) and Judy too! I wonder if I should write ‘My Doris Day Life’? Anyway I digress…

Have you read any of these and if so what did you think? Did I take a book buying binge a little too far?

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Filed under Book Spree, Book Thoughts