The Redbreast (Harry Hole Series #3)

The Redbreast (Harry Hole Series #3)

by Jo Nesbo

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Detective Harry Hole embarrassed the force, and for his sins he’s been reassigned to mundane surveillance tasks. But while monitoring neo-Nazi activities in Oslo, Hole is inadvertently drawn into a mystery with deep roots in Norway’s dark past, when members of the government willingly collaborated with Nazi Germany. More than sixty years later, this black mark won’t wash away—and disgraced old soldiers who once survived a brutal Russian winter are being murdered, one by one. Now, with only a stained and guilty conscience to guide him, an angry, alcoholic, error-prone policeman must make his way safely past the traps and mirrors of a twisted criminal mind. For a conspiracy is taking rapid and hideous shape around Hole . . . and Norway’s darkest hour may be still to come.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062068422
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/30/2011
Series: Harry Hole Series , #3
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 534,379
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

A musician, songwriter, and economist, Jo Nesbø is also one of Europe’s most acclaimed crime writers, and is the winner of the Glass Key Award, northern Europe’s most prestigious crime-fiction prize, for his first novel featuring Police Detective Harry Hole. Nesbø lives in Oslo.

Read an Excerpt

The Redbreast

By Jo Nesbo HarperCollins Copyright © 2007 Jo Nesbo
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-06-113399-2

Chapter One 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 half-hearted 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.


'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?'


'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.'


'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.'


'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 ...


Excerpted from The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo Copyright © 2007 by Jo Nesbo . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Redbreast 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 157 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Those long winter nights must evoke creative juices, because Scandinavian detective thrillers are a terrific genre. Knowing several of the popular Swedish series, I had until recently not heard about Norway's Nesbo, but I'm happy that's changed. He manages to weave together several major stories, with unanticipated twists and turns, linking past and present mysteries over several decades, and in the process he tosses in a dose of Norwegian history that is as interesting as the rest of his story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know the author of "Redbreast" is not Joe Queenan; I am thanking Mr. Queenan for his recognition of Scandinavian writers as a fresh voice in the mystery/crime fiction genre. Spot-on. The non-spoiler summary: A few good cops, some with some bad habits, are pitted against office politics (and office politicians, as well as some not-so-good cops) while trying to catch a skilled killer with quite a bit of method, and history, to his madness. The substance: Jo Nesbo (don't know how to do the o-slash) is a solid but creative writer with the instinct to tell a real, honest-to-goodness human story that draws readers in without insulting their intelligence by weighing them down with unnecessary details. About halfway through the book, I had to smile at the writing skill - it's been awhile since I've read a story constructed as thoughtfully as this one. "Redbreast" has (enough) surprises to keep the reader intrigued, and although the material doesn't use the accepted U.S. standards for action, romance, or drama, Nesbo blends the perfect recipe of all three into an underlying plot related to one of the main characters.
knittingnancy More than 1 year ago
A complicated combination of characters is introduced to us when they are young and reintroduced to us over 50 years later. I admit to being confused more than once until I started to see how the author uses this devise to keep the reader off balance. Once I thought I had it figured out...bam...Nesbo quickly pulled the rug from under my feet. The translator does a wonderful job. too. The phrasing in natural and the characters, although sometimes hard to keep straight, are very believable.
dbmnazgul More than 1 year ago
A mystery/thriller involving neo-Nazis and their ties to Norway's involvement in WWII. The novel itself jumps back and forth in time, giving pertinent clues to the reader while immersing them in 2 separate stories tied together. This may sound more daunting than it is-- by the time the story reaches its climax it all makes sense. The characters draw you in with their human qualities-- the only issue I had was occasionally losing track of some of them due to my unfamiliarity of Norwegian names. There is a sequence of answering machine messages in the novel that really drew me in to the main character, Harry Hole-- he truly felt like a real person.
edofarrell More than 1 year ago
This book begins with, and the plot turn on, a case of mistaken identity with agents guarding dignitaries. It has the hero, Harry Hole, checking his .38 caliber revolver and then checking for the two 'magazines' for the gun. revolvers do not have magazines. Then he checks the safety. Revolvers do not have safeties. Then he runs toward a person in a toll booth and worries that his weapon will penetrate the 'light ballistic' vests of the Secret Service. 'light ballistic' vests will easily stop a 38 caliber round. Then he opens fire and penetrates the heavy glass of a toll booth with that .38 caliber revolver; unlikely. And the suspect he fires at is alone. I've worked presidential security details. No one, repeat no one, is ever deployed alone. So the book starts off with utter nonsense and goes very quickly south with purple prose, Hardy boy dialog and characters and generally little to pull it out of the hole -- you'll excuse the pun -- of the first few chapters. If you're a young adult and utterly indifferent to accuracy in your thrillers, this might be a book for you. I'd pass and save the money, were I you.
onadvidreader More than 1 year ago
Very good. The English translation was sometimes hard to follow, but otherwise a great read. Gave me an interesting view of WWII for Norway. Will read more of his books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read most of the "Harry Hole" novels and this one of the best. The twists that Nesbo puts into the novel really keep you on the edge of your seat. Hard to put down.
RplusR More than 1 year ago
This book is the third book in the Harry Hole series, but the first of the series to be translated into English. (There are occassional references to earlier events in Harry Hole's police work. It would be nice if the first two books in the series were translated.) The Redbreast is definitely a more complex and inventive work than most mystery books. There are three different threads that are being woven together. (The experiences of a group of Norwegian soldiers fighting for the Nazis on the Russian front during WWII; an elderly man who feels that the cause of National Socialism has been been betrayed and seeks vindication during the final year of his life; Harry Hole working to uncover an assassination plot before it materializes.) The complexity can be a challenge, but adds to the depth of the overall work. This is the second Jo Nesbo work that I have read. I find him to be a very inventive and creative talent. Well worth reading.
manugw More than 1 year ago
This is my second book by Jo Nesbo. In The Readbreast, he had the skils to conceive a story blending the high beating pulse of an international thriller mixed with the intrigue of the hard boiled. Fast paced, suspenseful, entertaining and with an arrray of similar characters and ingenious twists and turns, The Readbreast will not disappoint readers, who will have to make an intellectual effort so as not to get lost in the story who looks confusing with purpose, it leaves some unsolved issues for a sequel. After having finished it, I now feel compelled to go and read all the following Nesbo published books. He shows he is a cultivated, smart and sly author.
alpersjo More than 1 year ago
Well written - great beach book with enough thrills to convince me to special order Nesbo's other books
NEB1 More than 1 year ago
Harry Hole and Oslo come alive in this mystery. Jo Nesbo doesn't hand you the answer - twists and turns make you think about what's happening. I love stories that take place in Scandinavia and this character is right up there with Kurt Wallender.
Jeanie-j More than 1 year ago
I think this may be an "artsy-fartsy" book. I just didn't get it. The scene kept shifting in time and place, from way back when to right now ... and I gave it up after about 100 pages. Sorry. Just didn't hit my hot button.
macabr More than 1 year ago
In Jo Nesbo's THE REDBREAST, police detective Harry Hole has presented a perfect case against Sverre Olsen, a leader of the Neo-Nazi party in Norway. But a mistake made by the judge causes the case to fall apart and Olsen is back in the community. A month later Harry makes a mistake that nearly causes an international incident so, to prevent further embarrassment, Harry is promoted and assigned to surveillance duties, a job intended to keep him out of the spotlight. This,however, puts Harry in contact again with Olsen and his followers. The Neo-Nazi party has become increasingly active and there are rumors that something is planned for Norway's Independence Day which coincides with the Muslim holiday of Eid. Rumors spread suggesting that the crowds celebrating the national holiday will prevent the police from effectively responding to an attack on the Muslim community. Then a homeless man is murdered and suspicion falls on Svarre Olsen but as Harry investigates he realizes that the old Nazis and the young Nazis are tied together through a story of love, brutality, hero worship, and sexual extortion. Norway worked zealously to bury its connections to Germany during WWII. Vidkun Quisling made his name a synonym for traitor but he wasn't the only Norwegian to believe that the future would belong to the Third Reich. Many of Norway's young men died fighting for Germany on the eastern front and those who did not, returned to a country that was trying to re-write its recent past and so they were branded as traitors. Sixty years later, the old soldiers are being killed with surgical skill or a sniper's shot. Who is doing the killing and why, after so many years, has the assassin decided to act? Jo Nesbo evokes the war years by bringing the reader to the battlefields of Russia and a hospital in Vienna. He brings to life an Oslo comfortable in its democracy, aware of its 21st century problems, and happy to have been convinced that history is a story told by the winners and what is dark and shameful can be redacted with an historian's pen.
LordVader More than 1 year ago
I wasn't bothered by storyline going back and forth on the timeline. I found the history of Norwegian SS volunteers interesting. I enjoyed the plot line, the characters - good and bad, and was stunned to have a possible romantic interest abruptly killed. The name Harry Hole is a bit much, but I like the character. Tell me it's not Wallender with an overlay of Rebus. I plan on reading all of the series.
Anonymous 4 months ago
This is the first book that I've read by Jo Nesbo. I was not impressed. There was to much jumping around and it was hard to follow. If this was supposed to be his best book I'm not sure I'll read any others.
Anonymous 5 months ago
A great read
bhowell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are a lot of great Scandinavian thrillers being translated into English, but Redbreast is in a class of it's own. It is truly fabulous. I cannot recommend it highly enough and from the other reviews it seems that Librarything readers agree.The novel moves back and forth in time from WWII and the present. The history of Norway's occcupation during the war and the Norwegian soldiers who fought with the Germans at the eastern front is fascinating. Inspector Harry Hole is a great character. This book has some similarites to the Stieg Larsson Swedish thrillers in that it deals with present neo-Nazi activities in Norway and Sweden and the history of collaberation with the Germans during the war.
tmannix on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Why is there so much great mystery writing from Scandinavia? Here's another one--this time from Norway. The protagonist, Harry Hole (a police detective in Oslo), is just the kind of flawed character I like. And the story is appealingly complex drawing on the past (WWII-era anti-Russian, pro-German activities) and the present (neo-Nazism). Great characters. The start of a love story. A gut-wrenching surprise midway in the book. And there's an unsolved plot line that makes me want to get started immediately on the next book.
Jcambridge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first I have read of Jo Nesbo's books and I must say I am as taken in by his characters and plots as I was with Stieg Larsson. This particular Harry Hole mystery had some history about Norway and the Nazis that made it particularly interesting and informative. A bit chilling when you consider the horrible events of Summer 2011 when so many young people were murdered by a madman, who professed pro-Nazi beliefs. Readers will not be disappointed in the writing or the plot.
cathymoore on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the past I have really struggled with Scandinavian fiction. I don't enjoy Larsson or Mankell, so I was ready to write this off before I'd started it. I'll admit the first hundred or so pages were a bit of a battle of wills. There are lots of characters to get to know and lots of flashbacks to WW2 to keep the reader on her toes. Then, just as I was getting a bit bogged down it all started to come together and by the end I almost couldn't put it down. Nesbo's flawed detective Harry Hole reminds a lot of Rankin's Inspector Rebus. The unfamiliar Norwegian geography was a slight struggle until I found the map inside the front cover (oops!) I'm actually looking forward to the next one.
lynkbailey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Officer Harry Hole is in the protection squad for the visit of the American President to Norway. Following an accident he is promoted to Inspector and reassigned to a new department. As he investigates the smuggling of a rifle, the story switches from the wartime Eastern Front, Neo-Nazi groups and murders closer to home.This is an intriguing story and I found the switches from modern to history interesting. There were enough twists and turns to keep me absorbed and while the mystery is solved there are some strands left open for future development. This is the first book I have read by Nesbo but will definitely be reading some more. The only thing I didn't like was the "next Steig Larson" plastered on the front. Why? It was nothing like it - both good books in their own right but one about a policeman, one about a journalist. One set in Norway and one set in Sweden (and elsewhere). There are both crime books but then so are alot of other books! Just to warn people that if you didn't like Larson you may still like Nesbo and if you did like Larson you may not like Nesbo!
polarbear123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Awesome. What a dark and complex crime novel. The story peels away slowly but never loses its grip on you for a moment. Great characters, a perfectly flawed detective and some mysterious goings on both with the criminals and the police. Reading the last few chapters was like watching a Bourne movie on fast forward. It really was that exciting! Long live the Hole!
InigoMontoya on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having already read The Snowman, I was familiar with Harry Hole and with the author's style. This was an enjoyable novel that led to much Googling on my part about historical events of which I had little previous understanding. The novel displays the typical features of Scandinavian crime tales, particularly the stark beauty of the landscape and the morose and broken protagonist. One real problem for me, which I'm starting to think may have been as a result of a serindiptitous misread, is that I knew who the antagonist was from virtually the start and this had a somewhat ruining effect. That said, I'm still eager to read more adventures of Harry Hole.
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed my reading of The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo. I immediately noticed that the translation by Don Bartlett was flawless. This is a multi-layered, complex yet utterly convincing mystery. The Redbreast is, I believe, the third in the series, but the first to be translated into English. I noticed a few references to previous cases, but nothing interfered with the flow of the story. Harry Hole, through no fault of his own, has caused a international situation that his superiors decided is best handled by first promoting him and then sidelining him to a desk and paperwork. In the course of his daily grind he reads a report that resounds within him and sets him on a trail to track down a smuggled high-calibre rifle that is often used by assassins. Harry, in his dogged way, soon is stirring up people and events from both the past and the present. The investigation leads him to the dark days of World War II as he follows the twists and turns of a very disturbed mind. Powerful and vivid, I was amazed at how quickly I flew through the pages of this book. This was my first experience with Harry Hole and I am already looking forward to my next meeting with him.
johnthefireman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A detective thriller set in Norway which takes us back to the World War II Eastern Front and Quislings to solve a series of crimes revolving around neo-Nazis. It reminds us perhaps that harmless-looking little old men may have a very violent past and may not have lost all the skills and attitudes that they picked up in darker times.