The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

‘The Redbreast’ is Jo Nesbo’s 3rd novel featuring Norwegian Detective Harry Hole. This novel was excellent – much better than the first two in the series – ‘The Bat’ and ‘Cockroaches’, but the two earlier novels set up background information that is useful to know in this novel.

Harry has just shot a man. The situation was completely unavoidable but for political reasons Harry is promoted to a job that should keep him out of sight. He is monitoring Norwegian neo-Nazi groups and immediately finds something that merits further investigation. A very unusual and expensive sniper rifle has just been used in Norway and appears to have entered the country through one of the neo-Nazi groups.

The story has flashbacks to WWII to a group of Norwegian soldiers fighting with Nazi Germany against the Russians. Within the group there are traitors, deserters and murderers. One man finds himself recovering in a hospital in Vienna where he falls deeply in love with a nurse.

Harry’s investigation brings him into contact with the old Nazis (now around 70 years old) along with old resistance fighters, as he follows leads trying to find the location of the gun and the possible target for such a specialised weapon.

Even though Harry is no longer working in the crime division, he still sees Ellen Gjelten as his partner. Her common sense and caring have helped him in the past and continue to do so now.

Harry also manages to fall in love with a lady he interviews in relation to the case. She ends up being involved in more ways than one.

Although Harry ends up solving one part of the case, there are still lots of loose ends at the end of the story – presumably they will come back to haunt Harry in later novels.


I loved this novel. It was complex but not confusing. The characters were realistic and believable as was the plot. I made several guesses throughout the novel but didn’t manage to work out what was going on till the end. There was also tragedy in this story – not all the good guys came out on top. Parts of the story lent themselves to further development and I look forward to finding out what happens next in – ‘Nemesis’.


Book Published 2000 (Norwegian)

Book Published in English 2006


See a full list of books by Jo Nesbo

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