Archive for April 1, 2009


It is 1991 a young girl is raped at a Salvation Army summer camp, and then in Oslo one freezing night twelve years later, just before Christmas, a Salvation Army officer Robert Karlsen is shot in the head at a street concert. But before the Croatian assassin can leave the country he realises he has killed the wrong man, and must try again to complete his mission.

Harry Hole, struggling once again with his own problems, has to track down the murderer with very little evidence and no motive to go on. Jo Nesbo takes us on a roller coaster ride as we investigate the personal lives of the young people in the Salvation Army, the history of the assassin known as the mali spasitelj [little redeemer], the business ethics of a wealthy family, and Harry’s own relationships with friends and colleagues. 

One of the best reviewers around Glenn Harper of International Noir Fiction states “The Redeemer is Jo Nesbo’s best novel so far” and I certainly would not argue with that. I finished reading The Redeemer early this morning and using well worn cliches it is a gripping read, with a narrative drive that makes it impossible to put down, even though it is quite a heavy paperback. I did not think Nesbo could surpass The Devil’s Star or Nemesis but I think he has by a hair’s breadth with The Redeemer.

We sometimes forget [until reading Dorte of DJS Krimiblog] that Charles Dickens books were originally published in weekly episodes in the magazines of the day. I am reminded of the Saturday morning  picture clubs I went to in the early 1950s, before we had television, when at the end of each episode our hero [The Lone Ranger, Tonto or Hopalong Cassidy] was left in an impossible position and we had to wait until the next episode to find out if he escaped. Of course he always did and these films were similar in this to the popular “macho” crime fiction I read at the time featuring Richard Hannay and Bulldog Drummond, as well as the adventure novels starring Biggles. 

In The Redeemer Jo Nesbo has written the book in a way that produces cliffhanger after cliffhanger, and just as we want to know what happens next he moves us swiftly on to another thread told from a different perspective and leaves the reader gasping for more. He tricks the reader and intrigues us as we wonder how all the threads will come together, and because it is all done with such skill we don’t mind being fooled. Nesbo is also a master at creating interesting characters, I could read about Harry Hole even without the wonderfully convoluted plots, and in Gunnar Hagen, Harry’s new boss, who is an expert on the Japanese Army in Burma, we have yet another complex character to follow. 
The Redeemer is absolutely superb crime fiction and if you have not read any Jo Nesbo do get all of the four published in English and read them in the correct order. [The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil’s Star, The Redeemer]
By the time you reach the end of The Redeemer I feel sure you will be nuts about Nesbo. 
You can read a good review of The Redeemer here

The telephone creaked. He breathed in ready to answer and looked into the twelve thousand kroner rococo mirror. At that moment Tore realised three things. The creaking had not come from the telephone. You don’t get top-quality mail-order handcuffs in a beginner’s pack for 599 kroner. And in all probability he had celebrated his last Christmas.