Friday, January 23, 2009

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø

Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø's taut thriller about neo-Nazis and the link to Norwegians that fought for their German occupiers in World War II was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I don't read a great deal of crime fiction (the occasional George Pelecanos, Kate Atkinson) so when I come across a well-done crime novel, I get completely wrapped up in it. Nesbø's hero, Detective Harry Hole, finds himself enmeshed in a potential assassination plot, but doesn't know who, when or where the target is, only the type of rifle (a German Märklin) to be used.

Nesbø deftly mixes in a WWII plot from Norway's Eastern Front involving Norwegians that joined the Waffen SS and were later branded as traitors when the war ended. Some of the surviving members of the unit figure into the contemporary plot as Hole scrambles to discover the details of the assassination.

Despite a few overly used phrases (characters repeatedly "pull a face" to signify displeasure) that may or may not be the result of translation slip-ups, Nesbø's writing style is sleek and well-suited to a fast-paced thriller.

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