The Redeemer by Jo Nesbø


The Redeemer by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett
Originally published as Frelseren, 2005
Knopf, May 2013

FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss.

I really like police procedurals, and I, among millions of others, eat up the Harry Hole novels by Jo Nesbø. Harry is an interesting character, the plots are full of twists, and there’s a lot at stake for the characters. This is probably my favorite Harry Hole book of the four I’ve read so far: Harry isn’t in as horrible place as he’s been in in previous books, the plotting isn’t too convoluted, and the story doesn’t involve a serial killer. I recommend reading the three books that come right before The Redeemer (The Redbreast, Nemesis, and The Devil’s Star) to provide more background about Harry and what’s happening in the police department, but starting with The Redeemer won’t be too confusing to a reader who’s new to the series.

The Redeemer begins with a sober Harry Hole welcoming– if that’s the right word– a new boss, Gunnar Hagen, a former military man who replaces his protective boss Bjarne Møller. This particular investigation centers on the shooting of a Salvation Army member in a busy square in Oslo during a concert before Christmas. The story turns into a cat and mouse game between Harry and The Little Redeemer, a contract killer from the former Yugoslavia. Nesbø is good at switching points of view from the hunter to the hunted, and he’s very good at building suspense. He also spends plenty of time fleshing out the story of The Little Redeemer, which humanizes him.

Besides the suspense of the main criminal investigation, which brings Harry and his colleagues into the world of the Salvation Army’s leadership and the people they serve, the novel spends plenty of time on Harry’s personal life and life within the police department. There are threads that I’m sure will be played out in other novels as his situation in the department evolves.

This is a very strong book in the series, and I recommend it highly.

For other positive reviews of The Redeemer, see Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog, and The Game’s Afoot.

17 thoughts on “The Redeemer by Jo Nesbø

  1. Rebecca – The Harry Hole series is a strong police procedural series, that’s for sure. Even though Harry can be self-destructive, there’s something appealing about him. I’m glad you liked this one and I’m also glad you mention the story arcs about Harry’s personal life. It’s one of the reasons I think this series is best understood more or less in order.

    • Thanks, Margot. This series has grown on me: The Redbreast was a little convoluted plot-wise, but the death of Harry’s partner storyline was very good. I’m glad I have a few more books in the series to read.

  2. Hmm…can’t stand Harry Hole usually. He embodies for me how crime fiction has lost its way in recent years by making the protagonist so maverick, so drunken, so maladjusted, that there’s no pleasure in reading about them. But a sober Harry? You’ve almost convinced me to try again…

    • Some maverick characters rub me the wrong way too: it’s definitely a question of taste. For example, I didn’t really like the first couple Harry Bosch novels by Michael Connelly, but by the third or fourth book, which took me years to get to, I liked the character.

  3. I like police procedurals too. I am glad to hear you liked this one. I have only read Redbreast, and looking forward to reading Nemesis. I will catch up with you in a year or two or three.

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