Reviews in 200 Words

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

In Fiction, Novel on May 27, 2011 at 12:51 am

Stieg Larsson is a hack. Popular, yes. But compared to Norwegian novelist Jo Nesbø, Larsson’s books are mildly entertaining, mostly boring, and completely tedious.

Even in translation The Redbreast is electrifying. It’s a thriller for the mystery novel averse. It’s complex and sophisticated, populated by a rich cast of characters – detective Harry Hole chiefly among them.

What you need to know: In a book not yet available in English, Harry Hole screwed up. He’s haunted and looking for redemption. Instead, he screws up again – accidentally shooting an American Secret Service officer during the President’s trip to Norway. His punishment? A “promotion” out of active duty – a promotion that pulls Harry into an assassination plot reaching back into Norway’s troubled World War II history. Two-faced cops, neo-Nazi thugs, arrogant politicians, and a motley group of Norwegian soldiers shivering on the Eastern Front all orbit Harry as he works to piece it all together.

Many mystery novels fizzle in the third act, but this one escalates with break-neck fury. Forget the dragon tattoo. The Redbreast is tremendous, and waiting behind it is a series upping the ante with every book.

Especially if the last thing you want to read is a mystery.

-Jay Cullis

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