OK, I think we have established that Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole series is my new all-time favorite. I'm even willing to FORGIVE the translators for doing their work out of order, thus particularly spoiling this book for me. (The translation work is phenomenal.) Even though I knew a couple people were going to die in this installment, I had to complete my task of reading all the episodes, which have accumulated as follows:
The Devil's Star
There are two novels prior to "The Redbreast", but they have not yet been translated (and may never be, so don't hold your breath or wait for this to happen). Each book, in theory, is able to stand on its own, but I wouldn't recommend it. There are consistent characters, there is a history of tragedies that make Harry the man he is. So what is that dashing, damaged man up to this time?
Synopsis: Twelve years ago, in a Salvation Army summer camp in Norway, there was a brutal rape of a 14 year-old girl. We don't know the victim, and we don't know the perpetrator. We also learn about a young Croatian boy who commits acts of treachery and has earned the title "the little redeemer". These two facts simmer over the years and bubble up to give us the latest Harry Hole investigation.
In the present, a Salvation Army soldier is executed in public at close range. Soon after, an attempt is made on the victim's brother's life, closely followed by an increasing body count, all which seem to be related. Harry is assigned to this investigation with his partner Halversen and forensics superstar Beate. Their digging takes them to Croatia, through the upper administration of the Salvation Army, and to that night 12 years ago at the summer camp. As Harry's retired boss advises, "follow the money".
My thoughts: Like all Harry Hole mysteries, there is never one simple plot thread, but many. In fact, if you aren't careful, you will find yourself completely lost in the woods, a mile from civilization, marveling at how Nesbo does this to you again and again. I've probably said this before, but best not even try to figure it out. You will just get confused. Just go with it.
Nesbo seems to enjoy picking inanimate objects and creating new phobias for them. He has demonized elevators, water beds, and snowmen. Now he has caused me to cringe at my vacuum cleaner (well, yeah, that goes without saying, but now even more than ever). Is Nesbo married? I'm thinking that his significant other must have had some input about creating a fear of a vacuum.
And even though in many ways, critical events were spoiled by reading the books out of order, I still very much enjoyed this journey with Harry. He continues to become more and more untethered by his demons, and is an increasingly cocky smartass with authority, but he is also an admirable dog with a bone, and refuses to give up on the most cut and dried cases. He is annoying and lovable and dear, and the perfect protagonist to carry the series.
So. One more book to go, and I believe, for the first time ever, I am reading it in order. I can't wait.
4.5 out of 5 stars