Archive for the ‘Harry Hole’ Tag

Norwegian Thriller   Leave a comment


The Redbreast is the third of the Harry Hole series by Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbo. It’s also the fifth one I’ve read. Clearly, I haven’t read them in order. Initially, it was difficult to find translations of Nesbo’s books, so I savored them as I found them. He is apparently so in vogue now, that all ten, including a newly released novel, are readily available. At this point, I don’t mind the leap frogging. Nesbo has always provided enough backstory that I never felt I missed anything. However, what’s particularly appealing about The Redbreast is the introduction of the love of his life: Rakel, and her son, Oleg. Both figure significantly in the later books. But I’m jumping ahead of myself, literally.

Unlike others in the Hole series, The Redbreast is slow to build momentum. Initially, it was like being a passenger on a local train, with lots of stops, before finally getting on the express.

Nesbo’s story travels effortlessly between modern-day Oslo and World War II. The latter sets the stage for the underlying threat of neo-Nazism, which becomes the focus of an investigation Hole pursues. His efforts to discover how, and why, a rare sniper rifle was brought into the country lead him to several men who were Nazi sympathizers during the war.

Several parallel love stories emerge, as does a particularly sad one about friendship. All demonstrate Nesbo’s ability to evoke emotion while wanting to make sure all the doors in the house are securely locked.

The Redbreast
Four Bookmarks
Harper, 2000
520 pages


Nordic Intrigue and Drug Cartels   Leave a comment


Like other Harry Hole mysteries by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo, Phantom accelerates from zero to 120 in no time flat. The quick-pace, heart-thumping action alternates voices between a third-person omniscient narrator and a recently-murdered drug dealer. The latter isn’t as disturbing as it sounds. In fact, it’s a powerful device, identified by italics, having the deceased Gusto reveal a lot about his wasted life and elements of his demise, without divulging who dunnit.

Harry returns to Oslo from his self-imposed exile in Bangkok to help exonerate Oleg, the son of the woman he’s never stopped loving. Although they are not flesh and blood, Harry has strong paternal feelings for Oleg. Consequently, Harry finds it unlikely the young man could be guilty. Harry relies on former connections within the police force to help in his unofficial investigation, as well as employing his own brand of whatever-it-takes approach to solve a crime.

Russian drug lords, crooked politicians and policemen, and Harry’s own demons help propel the story beyond drug deals gone bad. Nesbo is impressive in his ability to create black and white characters with nuance; that is, even the bad guys have a few redeeming qualities, while the good ones can’t help but disappoint from time to time. In the process, it’s difficult to determine the guilty person before Nesbo spells it out.

It is not necessary to have read any of the previous Harry Hole mysteries before jumping into Phantom, the only question is why would you not want to?

Four-and-a-half  Bookmarks
Alfred A. Knopf, 2012
378 pages

Posted May 20, 2013 by bluepagespecial in Books, Reviews

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