One evening during Christmas a Salvation Army man is shot (assassination style) at his collection post. As the police try to find whether this murder is aimed at the Salvation Army as a whole the man's brother is shot at and barely escapes with his life. Now it becomes a family thing and the police want to know which brother was the real target or are they both wanted dead? But when a seemingly unrelated woman's brutal death soon follows the police are stumped as to whether there is any connection. There is an unknown hit man on the loose and the bodies are piling up when another man related to the case kills himself.
An absolutely brilliant piece of crime fiction! Starting out slowly with the first hit and lots of character introductions and generous characterizations filled with background the reader gets to know the people involved. This is a thinking man's mystery, no car chases or helpless females running through the woods with a serial killer chasing after them. No, most of the detection is done inside Harry Hole's head as he pieces the bits of evidence together and his team goes out into the field to bring him answers to his questions. An amazingly intricate plot, I had no idea how this was going to end. Once I had my mind on whodunit a wide curve would set my mind reeling in a different direction and I was completely shocked by the solution. Of course, I found myself set up with a misconception right from the beginning too. True brilliance. Somewhat slower of a read than the slash and dash thrillers I usually read but oh so much more rewarding with it's intelligent plot and real, flawed characters. I'm anxious to go back and read the other's in this series I've not read yet and I so hope the publishers go back and have #1 and #2 in this series translated to English as soon as possible. Highly recommended!
I love mysteries and detective novels - especially series, where you can really come to know the protagonist. The Redeemer was a great new find for me. It's the fourth book in the Harry Hole series by Norwegian Jo Nesbo. It's just been released this month in Canada by Random House.
Harry Hole is a highly effective detective in the Oslo police department. However he is a bit of a rebel - he has a problem with both alcohol and following orders. Because he gets results he is tolerated.
The Redeemer opens with a scene from 1991 at a Salvation Army retreat. A crime is committed but never reported. Fast forward to present day. An unnamed hit man is on his last job - he has decided to call it quits. When the hit man kills the wrong target and a snow storm prevents his escape from the country, Harry Hole isn't far behind. The hit man has limited resources in Norway and Harry is tightening the noose.
I found the first few chapters a bit confusing as the action changed rapidly from character to character, especially as the pronoun he is used for the hit man in the beginning. This cleared up fairly quickly though. Because it is so unique, I found the settings and the attitudes especially interesting. I thought it was very different to use a known religious organization as a main part of the plot. It does showcase the Army's good works, but also paints a portrait of an organization subject to the same issues as any other business. Oslo seems to have an inordinate amount of drug users and the tolerated sale of drugs in a specific area came as a surprise. (haven't yet discovered if that's fact or fiction)
I enjoyed the character of Harry - his flaws make him even more interesting. Other characters are well drawn as well, eliciting sympathy, anger, disgust and pity. The past of the hit man is told in flashbacks, changing our view of him. The ending provides an excellent twist, definitely turning in a direction I had not foreseen.
This was a first rate detective novel - I'll be looking for future Harry Hole novels.
on September 17, 2013
It is Christmas week in Oslo. The streets are filled with shoppers getting ready for the holidays. A small crowd gathers around a Salvation Army band giving a Christmas concert. A shot rings out and the next thing you know a Salvation Army officer is lying dead on the street. Inspector Hole, Nesbo's troubled and lonely police inspector is on the job. Revealing too much of the plot is probably not a good idea for a Nesbo book. One of the pleasures of reading Nesbo's work is seeing how the plot develops. However, I don't think it will spoil much to say that there are one or possibly two plot lines at work here. There may be a professional killer on the loose and there may be a sociopathic killer on the loose. They may be separate individuals or it may be just one.
As the story develops you gradually see Hole's thought and investigative processes at work. He is a troubled man dealing with troubled individuals and groups. The development of the plot and its resolution were each very well drawn and very satisfying.
I liked a number of things about The Redeemer. First and foremost was the plotting. The action starts right away but Nesbo paces the development in a manner that kept me involved and kept me guessing. Some aspects I `got' pretty early on but there were enough twists and turns to keep me guessing and engaged.
Second, and critically for me, you have Inspector Hole taking a critical look at two faces of evil. It is a nuanced look and not one painted with a broad, stereotyped brush. Hole's exploration of both those faces colors his actions and responses to the investigation, the witnesses and the suspect(s). There may be no heroes, but in an imperfect world Hole is forced to make choices,any one of which may properly be cast as choosing between the lesser of two evils.
The writing is brisk, the characters (especially Hole and his colleagues on the force) are portrayed in what appears to me to be a very real fashion and the ending was satisfying and entertaining. All in all, I very much enjoyed The Redeemer. Fans of Nesbo will certainly like it. Fans of "Scandinavian noir" will certainly like it. And fans of good detective fiction will certainly like it.
Jo Nesbo's The Redeemer is another excellent addition to the Inspector Harry Hole series.