The Redbreast by Jo NesboThe Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

The Redbreast

byJo NesboTranslated byDon Bartlett

Paperback | November 2, 2009

Book 3 of 11 
Harry Hole Series

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1944: Daniel, a soldier, legendary among the Norwegians fighting the advance of Bolshevism on the Russian front, is killed. Two years later, a wounded soldier wakes up in a Vienna hospital. He becomes involved with a young nurse, the consequences of which will ripple forward to the turn of the next century.

1999: Harry Hole, alone again after having caused an embarrassment in the line of duty, has been promoted to inspector and is lumbered with surveillance duties. He is assigned the task of monitoring neo-Nazi activities; fairly mundane until a report of a rare and unusual gun being fired sparks his interest. Ellen Gjelten, his partner, makes a startling discovery. Then a former soldier is found with his throat cut. In a quest that takes him to South Africa and Vienna, Harry finds himself perpetually one step behind the killer. He will be both winner and loser by the novel’s nail-biting conclusion.

The Redbreast won the Glass Key prize for the best Nordic crime novel when it was first published, and was subsequently voted Norway’s best crime novel. The Devil’s Star, Nesbø’s first novel featuring Harry Hole to be translated into English, marked Nesbø as a writer to watch in the ever more fashionable world of Nordic crime.
Jo Nesbø, musician, economist and author, has won many prizes for his novels, including the Norwegian Book Club prize for best ever-Norwegian crime novel. His first novel to be published in English was The Devil’s Star, which sold more than 100,000 copies in Norway alone. He lives in Oslo.
Title:The RedbreastFormat:PaperbackDimensions:656 pages, 7.75 × 5.07 × 1.35 inPublished:November 2, 2009Publisher:Random House UKLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0099546779

ISBN - 13:9780099546771


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Best Harry Hole novel I've read yet! I've started at the beginning of the series and this one is my favorite yet. Love the story, but also love the alternate story. Can't wait to read the next one! #plumrewards
Date published: 2018-02-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Twists and turns Lots of twists and turns, full of excitement on every page.
Date published: 2017-07-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from well constructed and focused, if cinematic A solid and engaging entry in the series, truly worth the read. Small issues with stereotyped characters are resolved in future novels
Date published: 2017-06-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Redbreast Nesbo tells The Redbreast in two alternating story lines, Hole’s present day investigations into neo-Nazi murders, and a second narrative from 1944 along the Eastern German front, in the trenches surrounding Leningrad. Nesbo weaves these two narratives into a plot structure that slowly grows together and draws in several interconnected sub-plots, blending group dynamics and character interactions into a denouement that is profound and mesmerizing.
Date published: 2017-05-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Redbreast Nesbo tells The Redbreast in two alternating story lines, Hole’s present day investigations into neo-Nazi murders, and a second narrative from 1944 along the Eastern German front, in the trenches surrounding Leningrad. Nesbo weaves these two narratives into a plot structure that slowly grows together and draws in several interconnected sub-plots, blending group dynamics and character interactions into a denouement that is profound and mesmerizing.
Date published: 2017-05-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful mystery I think the worst thing about this novel was trying to keep all of the Norwegian names, both people and places, straight. Seriously had to rethink at times who was who, and how much of each individual's story we knew already, especially when Nesbo flipped back and forth quite a bit in the first third of the novel from present day Norway to World War 2. Ultimately, the time changes are necessary to get the whole story, but it was sometimes confusing. Otherwise, this was a great mystery which actually left some threads unsolved at its conclusion, but I expect that Inspector Harry Hole will have time in the next novel (or two) of the series to figure out what's what. Highly recommend this crime drama to fans of other Scandinavian mystery writers like Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson and Arnulder Indridason.
Date published: 2017-03-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Page turner... Another great novel in the Harry Hole series. Please, please read from the first book. Even though the books can stand alone, the progression of events are important. The story is complex and one should keep the characters clear from the first chapter. The time switch may not work for everyone, but it becomes clear as the story moves forward. Great page turner!!
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The redbreast Intriguing, once the two stories started to dovetail
Date published: 2014-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The redbreast Another great installment, though with interesting history of the Norwegians in WWII, and the tension and politics of collaborating, patriotism, and courage of convictions. As usual, clever plotting, interesting characters and entirely believable. And a nod to translation that is perfectly transparent. Definitely worth the read.
Date published: 2014-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Most Captivating 1st book translated into English but the 3rd in the Harry Hole series. This is a complex Norwegian thriller, a fabulous modern day mystery influenced by captivating and informative flashbacks from events and roles Norwegians were forced into during WW11. The story begins with Harry Hole, the protagonist, a gifted policeman, who caused his department a high profile embarrassment and was subsequently relegated to surveillance work monitoring neo-Nazi activities, a punishment Harry quickly turns into a new challenge. Harry’s speculative mind and acquired skills are just what is needed when word on the street surfaces that someone in the underworld is looking for a very particular vintage sniper rifle. He knows he is on the right track when a former Nazi sympathiser is found silenced with his throat cut and victims of the vintage sniper rifle start to accumulate. From the very first the reader follows the path that Harry takes and also the path the sniper takes, creating a unique suspense, a proverbial high gear cat and mouse game . The tale’s WW11 tread slowly interweaves into the main as the pages go by. This is a page-turner at its best with narratives that move between Harry’s present day inquiries and the Eastern front in 1944, where a small group of Norwegian Nazis with their own agenda are fighting alongside the Germans and at some point switch their allegiance to Russia and become part of the Resistance. The plot is a gripping tale of political intrigue, love and a serial killer with multiple personalities. This fairly long novel is character driven, a rich creation brilliantly composed with every key stroke. I found it hard to grasp at first there were a lot of seemingly unrelated events happening at a rapid pace, I wondered where all the pieces of the puzzle fit, but gradually the pattern took shape and the confusing flashbacks suddenly became clear as the thrill of the mystery escalated. This police procedural novel is one of the most captivating and compelling stories I have read in a long time. I am hooked on this series and I am looking forward to reading “Nemesis”.
Date published: 2011-12-16

Read from the Book

1 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 halfhearted 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. ‘MPD?’ ‘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?’ Pause. ‘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.’ ‘Where?’ ‘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.’ Silence. ‘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.’ ‘You’ve got body armour on, haven’t you?’ Harry twisted round to check. ‘Have you or haven’t you?’ She tapped her chest with her knuckles by way of reply. ‘Lightweight?’ She nodded. ‘For fuck’s sake, Ellen! I gave the order for ballistic vests to be worn. Not those Mickey Mouse vests.’ ‘Do you know what the Secret Service guys use?’ ‘Let me guess. Lightweight vests?’‘That’s right.’ ‘Do you know what I don’t give a shit about?’ ‘Let me guess. The Secret Service?’ ‘That’s right.’ She laughed. Harry managed a smile too. There was a crackle from the radio. ‘HQ to post 62. The Secret Service say it’s their car parked on the turn-off to Lørenskog.’ ‘Post 62. Message received.’ ‘You see,’ Harry said, banging the steering wheel in irritation, ‘no communication. The Secret Service people do their own thing. What’s that car doing up there without our knowledge? Eh?’ ‘Checking that we’re doing our job,’ Ellen said. ‘According to the instructions they gave us.’ ‘You’ll be allowed to make some decisions, so stop grumbling,’ she said. ‘And stop that drumming on the wheel.’ Harry’s hands obediently leapt into his lap. She smiled. He let out one long stream of air: ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ His fingers found the butt of his service revolver, a .38 calibre Smith & Wesson, six shots. In his belt he had two additional magazines, each holding six shots. He patted the revolver, knowing that, strictly speaking, he wasn’t actually authorised to carry a weapon. Perhaps he really was becoming short-sighted; after the forty-hour course last winter he had failed the shooting test. Although that was not so unusual, it was the first time it had happened to Harry and he didn’t like it at all. All he had to do was take the test again — many had to take it four or five times — but for one reason or another Harry continued to put it off. More crackling noises: ‘Passed point 28.’ ‘One more point to go in the Romerike police district,’ Harry said. ‘The next one is Karihaugen and then it’s us.’ ‘Why can’t they do it how we used to? Just say where the motorcade is instead of all these stupid numbers,’ Ellen asked in a grumbling tone. ‘Guess.’ They answered in unison: ‘The Secret Service!’ And laughed. ‘Passed point 29.’ He looked at his watch.‘OK, they’ll be here in three minutes. I’ll change the frequency on the walkie-talkie to Oslo police district. Run the final checks.’ Ellen closed her eyes to concentrate on the positive checks that came back one after the other. She put the microphone back into position. ‘Everything in place and ready.’ ‘Thanks. Put your helmet on.’ ‘Eh? Honestly, Harry.’ ‘You heard what I said.’ ‘Put your helmet on yourself !’ ‘Mine’s too small.’ A new voice. ‘Passed point 1.’ ‘Oh shit, sometimes you’re just so . . . unprofessional.’ Ellen pulled the helmet over her head, fastened the chin strap and made faces in the driving mirror. ‘Love you too,’ said Harry, studying the road in front of them through binoculars. ‘I can see them.’ At the top of the incline leading to Karihaugen the sun glinted off metal. For the moment Harry could only see the first car in the motorcade, but he knew the order: six motorcycles from the Norwegian police escort department, two Norwegian police escort cars, a Secret Service car, then two identical Cadillac Fleetwoods (special Secret Service cars flown in from the US) and the President sitting in one of them. Which one was kept secret. Or perhaps he was sitting in both, Harry thought. One for Jekyll and one for Hyde. Then came the bigger vehicles: ambulance, communications car and several Secret Service cars. ‘Everything seems quiet enough,’ Harry said. His binoculars moved slowly from right to left. The air quivered above the tarmac even though it was a cool November morning. Ellen could see the outline of the first car. In thirty seconds they would have passed the toll gates and half the job would be over. And in two days’ time, when the same cars had passed the toll going in the opposite direction, she and Harry could go back to their usual work. She preferred dealing with dead people in the Serious Crime Unit to getting up at three in the morning to sit in a cold Volvo with an irritable Harry, who was clearly burdened by the responsibility he had been given. Apart from Harry’s regular breathing, there was total quiet in the car. She checked that the light indicators on both radios were green. The motorcade was almost at the bottom of the hill. She decided she would go to Tørst and get drunk after the job. There was a guy there she had exchanged looks with; he had black curls and brown, slightly dangerous eyes. Lean. Looked a bit bohemian, intellectual. Perhaps . . . ‘What the —’ Harry had already grabbed the microphone. ‘There’s someone in the third booth from the left. Can anyone identify this individual?’ The radio answered with a crackling silence as Ellen’s gaze raced from one booth to the next in the row. There! She saw a man’s back behind the brown glass of the box — only forty or fifty metres away. The silhouette of the figure was clear in the light from behind, as was the short barrel with the sights protruding over his shoulder. ‘Weapon!’ she shouted. ‘He’s got a machine gun.’ ‘Fuck!’ Harry kicked open the car door, took hold of the frame and swung out. Ellen stared at the motorcade. It couldn’t be more than a few hundred metres off. Harry stuck his head inside the car. ‘He’s not one of ours, but he could be Secret Service,’ he said. ‘Call HQ.’ He already had the revolver in his hand. ‘Harry . . .’ ‘Now! And give a blast on the horn if HQ say it’s one of theirs.’ Harry started to run towards the toll booth and the back of the man dressed in a suit. From the barrel, Harry guessed the gun was an Uzi. The raw early morning air smarted in his lungs. ‘Police!’ he shouted in Norwegian, then in English. No reaction. The thick glass of the box was manufactured to deaden the traffic noise outside. The man had turned his head towards the motorcade now and Harry could see his dark Ray-Bans. Secret Service. Or someone who wanted to give that impression. Twenty metres now. How did he get inside a locked booth if he wasn’t one of theirs? Damn! Harry could already hear the motorcycles. He wouldn’t make it to the box. He released the safety catch and took aim, praying that the car horn would shatter the stillness of this strange morning on a closed motorway he had never wanted at any time to be anywhere near. The instructions were clear, but he was unable to shut out his thoughts: Thin vest. No communication. Shoot, it is not your fault. Has he got a family? The motorcade was coming from directly behind the toll booth, and it was coming fast. In a couple of seconds the Cadillacs would be level with the booths. From the corner of his left eye he noticed a movement, a little bird taking off from the roof. Whether to take the risk or not . . . the eternal dilemma. He thought about the low neck on the vest, lowered the revolver half an inch. The roar of the motorcycles was deafening.

Editorial Reviews

“Nobody can delve into the dark, twisted mind of a murderer better than a Scandinavian thriller writer.” –Vogue“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.”–Daily Telegraph "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."— Independent