>THE REDEEMER: JO NESBO’S TOP QUALITY CRIME THRILLER

Posted: April 1, 2009 in Uncategorized

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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. 
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Comments
  1. maxine says:

    >Sounds brilliant – can’t wait! I have to read Nemesis first, though – I think///!?! What’s the right order again? (I’ll go and check at Euro Crime). I read Redbrest and The Devil’s Star the wrong way round (ie in translation order) which was retrospectively annoying as I’d have enjoyed TDS much more had I read Redbreast first.

  2. >Maxine I put the correct order I think: Redbreast, Nemesis, Devils Star and Redeemer. I hope they publish the first two one of which won the Glass Key and Snowman the next in the series.

  3. Lauren says:

    >OK, I’ve been convinced – I have read a bit of Nesbo and not been the world’s biggest fan. Will now order no. 1 from Germany (why can they translate in order for a smaller market?) and report back.I don’t think I’ll ever really like Harry though.

  4. >”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. ” Hellfire and damnation, but we think alike. I’m reading The Redeemer now, and I had singled out that passage for a discussion of Nesbø’s flare for humor at the grimmest of moments. I think I’ll have to find a differen example now. ============== Detectives Beyond Borders”Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home” http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

  5. >Thanks for the compliment Peter, “we think alike” and you the man with Mekon sized brain. I agree it is that ability to mix humour and horror that distinguishes the best crime writers from those who just give us one dimensional gloom and violence. Hakan Nesser and Andre Camilleri spring to mind as other fine practitioners of the art. Actually I am turning green as I spent a mind-blowing two hours at a “steering group” meeting this morning. Sea sickness or Mekonisation?

  6. >Lauren, I found Harry likeable in a particular way, at least in “The Devil’s Star”: He’s an absolutely sodden alcoholic in that book, but oddly philosophical and not at all self-pitying. Uriah, one should only be a member of steering groups if the subject is steerign and the occasion is a driving lesson. A fair number of crime writers incorporate humor. Not many do it in moments that might make a squeamish reader protest: “That’s sick!” Ken Bruen does so occasionally, and Nesbø does it in the passage I — er, you — quoted. ============== Detectives Beyond Borders”Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home” http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

  7. Kerrie says:

    >My copy arrived today. Hooray!

  8. >I hope you enjoy it as much as I did Kerrie.

  9. venky says:

    >Hi Aksh here. I think after a long time Ive read someone in the same league as bourne identity in terms of interest the author increases with every page. the characters and their interplay is pretty much hollywood stuff yet very readable. Although the redeemer is the first one I read I dont mind reading the series backwards. Im sure it would still be fun. Harry Hole is that typical wish I was that guy type.For a translated work Im really impressed by the author for the plot and language and raciness of the story. Kudos to Jo

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