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The Redbreast is a compelling novel of war, love, and betrayal that stretches
from the waning days of the Russian Front to present-day Oslo, a city
perched on top of a powder keg: a restive Muslim immigrant population
and a resurgent neo-Nazi movement. The wonder of this epic is that it's
written within the confines of a classic crime novel.
When Harry Hole, a police detective best described as a brilliant
burnout, accidentally shoots one of the president's secret service agents
during a rehearsal for an upcoming summit meeting, he believes it's the
end of his career. However, the politics of the moment demand a hero, not
a fall guy, and Harry is promoted to inspector instead. He begins to piece together disparate threads: threats of
violence on Norway's upcoming Independence Day, the illegal importation
of a Marklin rifle (a favored weapon of assassins), and a murder committed
outside a pizza parlor frequented by neo-Nazis.
Much more than a mystery, The Redbreast delves deeply into Norway's
involvement in World War II, exposing the face-saving myth of the resistance
movement and the deep-seated anger of the Russian war veterans who
served as scapegoats for the national shame. A nail-bitingly suspenseful
read, Nesbø's American debut is not to be missed.
(Spring 2008 Selection)
…this is a fine novel, ambitious in concept, skillful in execution and grown-up in its view of people and events. In important ways it's also a political novel, one concerned with the threat of fascism, in Norway and by implication everywhere. All in all, The Redbreast certainly ranks with the best of current American crime fiction.
The Washington Post
"Pristinely translated by Don Bartlett, Nesbo's book eloquently uses its multiple horrors to advance a disturbing argument: suppressing history is an open invitation for history to repeat itself."
The New York Times
Shifting effortlessly between the last days of WWII on the Eastern front and modern day Oslo, Norwegian Nesbø (The Devil's Star) spins a complex tale of murder, revenge and betrayal. A recovering alcoholic recently reassigned to the Norwegian Security Service, Insp. Harry Hole begins tracking Sverre Olsen, a vicious neo-Nazi who escaped prosecution on a technicality. But what starts as a quest to put Olsen behind bars soon explodes into a race to prevent an assassination. As Hole struggles to stay one step ahead of Olsen and his gang of skinheads, Nesbø takes the reader back to WWII, as Norwegians fighting for Hitler wage a losing battle on the Eastern front. When the two story lines finally collide, it's up to Hole to stop a man hell-bent on carrying out the deadly plan he hatched half a century ago in the trenches. Perfectly paced and painfully suspenseful, this crime novel illuminates not only Norway's alleged Nazi ties but also its present skinhead subculture. Readers will delight in Hole, a laconic hero as doggedly stubborn as Connelly's Harry Bosch, and yet with a prickly appeal all his own. (Dec.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
In the latest Scandinavian crime fiction import, award-winning and best-selling Norwegian author Nesbø introduces Detective Harry Hole. A talented, dedicated detective with drinking issues, Hole is nearly as depressed and grim as Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander but closer in age and style to Ake Edwardson's Erik Winter, occasionally sporting 1980s band T-shirts, always wearing black Doc Marten combat boots, and regularly referencing popular movies. After an unfortunate incident involving an American Secret Service agent, Hole is transferred to the political unit. Left to his own devices, he investigates the purported import of a Marklin (the world's best and most expensive rifle) while keeping an eye on a neo-Nazi ex-con who recently avoided jail. A lengthy and complex story with subplots involving an old man dying of cancer and flashbacks to World War II and the role of Norwegians who fought for Hitler on the eastern front; one of the more fascinating detectives in modern crime fiction; and a well-drawn, engaging set of secondary characters make this one of the best new series of 2007. Highly recommended for all libraries. [In 2004, Norwegian book clubs voted The Redbreastas the best Norwegian crime novel ever written; the second book in Nesbø's "Oslo" trilogy, The Devil's Star, is available on Amazon UK.-Ed.]
Jessica E. Moyer
A pair of assassination attempts bookend 50 years of postwar history in this bold, ambitious thriller. Oslo Detective Harry Hole's last case left him with a toxic reputation (The Devil's Star, 2006). Now he has to make a snap judgment about an unauthorized man waiting with an Uzi in the path of the visiting American president. The man he shoots turns out to be a Secret Service agent, but the Norwegian government, with no stomach for creating an international incident that might embarrass a fervent ally, promotes Harry to Inspector and boots him over to the National Security Service to keep him out of trouble. Thanks to his new posting, Harry, without at first knowing it, becomes the man most likely to foil a second assassination-this one terribly real and steeped in a series of betrayals that go back to World War II. Some of the intrigue in the dizzying series of cuts between past and present is ham-handed, and the shadowy figure variously known as Uriah (in 1944) and the Prince (in 1999) may tax some readers' patience. But it's well worth sticking with the story; both the hero and the villain are as compelling as the portrayal of Norwegians doing whatever it takes to survive the war and then paying the price. Nesbo bids fair to turn Norway into serious competition for Sweden as Scandinavia's crime center.
From the Publisher
“Nobody can delve into the dark, twisted mind of a murderer better than a Scandinavian thriller writer.”
“I place Nesbø high up on the Scandinavian mystery league.”
–Marcel Berlins, The Times
“Exciting, witty, melancholy and thought-provoking, and he is well-served by his elegant translator, Don Bartlett, whom I bet many foreign crime novelists would kill to get hold of.”
"A page-turner you won't want to put down."
— Time Out
"Scary... culminates in a nail-biting episode with overtones of The Day of the Jackal."
“Reading THE REDBREAST is like watching a hit movie. Author Jo Nesbo’s scenes are so vivid that you can imagine them playing across the big screen. The pacing is swift. The plot is precise and intricate. The characters are intriguing.”
“Original…demands concentration but it’s worth the effort.”
New York Times Book Review
“An elegant and complex thriller . . . Ingenious design. . . . Harrowingly beautiful scenes.”
Daily Telegraph (London)
“Exciting, witty, melancholy and thought-provoking.”
Washington Post Book World
“Certainly ranks with the best of current American crime fiction.”
“Paced to grip and twiddle with your insides, this is a fine thriller.”
Read an Excerpt The Redbreast
By Jo Nesbo HarperCollins Copyright © 2007 Jo Nesbo
All right reserved.
Chapter One Toll Barrier at Alnabru. 1 November 1999.
A grey bird glided in and out of Harry's field of vision. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. Slow time. Somebody had been talking about 'slow time' on TV yesterday. This was slow time. Like on Christmas Eve before Father Christmas came. Or sitting in the electric chair before the current was turned on.
He drummed harder.
They were parked in the open area behind the ticket booths at the toll gate. Ellen turned up the radio a notch. The commentator spoke with reverence and solemnity.
'The plane landed fifty minutes ago, and at exactly 6.38 a.m. the President set foot on Norwegian soil. He was welcomed by the Mayor of Ullensaker. It is a wonderful autumn day here in Oslo: a splendid Norwegian backdrop to this summit meeting. Let us hear again what the President said at the press conference half an hour ago.'
It was the third time. Again Harry saw the screaming press corps thronging against the barrier. The men in grey suits on the other side, who made only a half-hearted attempt not to look like Secret Service agents, hunched their shoulders and then relaxed them as they scanned the crowd, checked for the twelfth time that their earpieces were correctly positioned, scanned the crowd, dwelled for a few seconds on a photographer whose telephoto lens was a little too long, continued scanning, checked for the thirteenth time that their earpieces were in position. Someone welcomed the President in English, everything went quiet. Then a scratching noise in a microphone.
'First, let me say I'm delighted to be here ...' the President said for the fourth time in husky, broad American-English.
'I read that a well-known American psychologist thinks the President has an MPD,' Ellen said.
'Multiple Personality Disorder. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The psychologist thought his normal personality was not aware that the other one, the sex beast, was having relations with all these women. And that was why a Court of Impeachment couldn't accuse him of having lied under oath about it.'
'Jesus,' Harry said, looking up at the helicopter hovering high above them.
On the radio, someone speaking with a Norwegian accent asked, 'Mr President, this is the fourth visit to Norway by a sitting US President. How does it feel?'
'It's really nice to be back here. And I see it as even more important that the leaders of the state of Israel and of the Palestinian people can meet here. The key to -'
'Can you remember anything from your previous visit to Norway, Mr President?'
'Yes, of course. In today's talks I hope that we can -'
'What significance have Oslo and Norway had for world peace, Mr President?'
'Norway has played an important role.'
A voice without a Norwegian accent: 'What concrete results does the President consider to be realistic?'
The recording was cut and someone from the studio took over.
'We heard there the President saying that Norway has had a crucial role in ... er, the Middle Eastern peace process. Right now the President is on his way to -'
Harry groaned and switched off the radio. 'What is it with this country, Ellen?'
She shrugged her shoulders.
'Passed Post 27,' the walkie-talkie on the dashboard crackled.
He looked at her.
'Everyone ready at their posts?' he asked. She nodded.
'Here we go,' he said. She rolled her eyes. It was the fifth time he had said that since the procession set off from Gardemoen Airport. From where they were parked they could see the empty motorway stretch out from the toll barrier up towards Trosterud and Furuset. The blue light on the roof rotated sluggishly. Harry rolled down the car window to stick out his hand and remove a withered yellow leaf caught under the windscreen wiper.
'A robin redbreast,' Ellen said, pointing. 'Rare to see one so late in autumn.'
'There. On the roof of the toll booth.'
Harry lowered his head and peered through the windscreen.
'Oh yes. So that's a robin redbreast?'
'Yep. But you probably can't tell the difference between that and a redwing, I imagine?'
'Right.' Harry shaded his eyes. Was he becoming short-sighted?
'It's a rare bird, the redbreast,' Ellen said, screwing the top back on the thermos.
'Is that a fact?' Harry said.
'Ninety per cent of them migrate south. A few take the risk, as it were, and stay here.'
'As it were? '
Another crackle on the radio: 'Post 62 to HQ. There's an unmarked car parked by the road two hundred metres before the turn-off for Lørenskog.'
A deep voice with a Bergen accent answered from HQ:'One moment, 62. We'll look into it.'
'Did you check the toilets?' Harry asked, nodding towards the Esso station.
'Yes, the petrol station has been cleared of all customers and employees. Everyone except the boss. We've locked him in his office.'
'Toll booths as well?'
'Done. Relax, Harry, all the checks have been done. Yes, the ones that stay do so in the hope that it will be a mild winter, right? That may be OK, but if they're wrong, they die. So why not head south, just in case, you might be wondering. Are they just lazy, the birds that stay?'
Harry looked in the mirror and saw the guards on either side of the railway bridge. Dressed in black with helmets and MP5 machine guns hanging around their necks. Even from where he was he could see the tension in their body language.
'The point is that if it's a mild winter, they can choose the best nesting places before the others return,' Ellen said, while trying to stuff the thermos into the already full glove compartment. 'It's a calculated risk, you see. You're either laughing all over your face or you're in deep, deep shit. Whether to take the risk or not. If you take the gamble, you may fall off the twig frozen stiff one night and not thaw out till spring. Bottle it and you might not have anywhere to nest when you return. These are, as it were, the eternal dilemmas you're confronted with ...
Excerpted from The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo Copyright © 2007 by Jo Nesbo . Excerpted by permission.
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