‘The Redbreast’

Right, I know I’m not reading the Jo Nesbo books in the right order…but next time, I will! Well, I’ll try!

It is due to the strength of Nesbo’s writing that I can read them in this order and still know exactly what’s going on. Harry Hole is the kind of character who bumbles around, frowning, hating the world and most of its inhabitants…so although circumstances might change for him…his attitude rarely does, so from one book to another, it is easy to ignore the ‘correct’ order of reading and just enjoy the books!

So, back on subject…The Redbreast is technically the 3rd in the Harry Hole series – the full order can be found on the Jo Nesbo website

…and I actually haven’t read the books preceding it…but as I said, that doesn’t matter! This book jumps between 1944 on the Eastern Front and 1999 in Oslo, with chilling narratives in both times. Firstly, we’re transported to trenches just outside Leningrad where a group of soldiers fight for freedom. A bold, confident man named Daniel Gudeson is shot during this time and laid in a mass grave…however a while later, a man claiming to be Daniel turns up in a military hospital and falls in love with a nurse there, Helene. When he has recovered, he is called up to be sent to a notoriously dangerous area of the Eastern Front so they plot their escape. Fast forward to 1999 and an old man wanders the streets of Oslo after receiving some bad news from the doctor…he infers that he has one final thing to do before he dies.

So, where is Harry Hole in all of this madness I hear you cry!? Well, after characteristically but accidentally shooting an American secret service agent during a Presidential visit to Norway, Hole has been moved to the secret service unit and promoted to Inspector…he has also been packed off to an office to sift through a report on a low-priority case…regarding suspected arms dealers and old/new Nazis…ooOOoh! Exactly! So, there is a lot to get your head around but it is definitely worth it! I think you’ve probably already guessed that Harry doesn’t just sit at the desk for the whole book…

Mixing past, present and future, this book is fantastic and certainly keeps you on your toes! Another cracking book from Nesbo…just need to get my hands on the others now!

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‘The Leopard’

Holy Moly! Another corker from Jo Nesbo! What I love most of all about these books is that I cannot put them down! I get completely and utterly addicted to them!

Harry Hole returns again to help solve a string of murders, well… supposedly that’s not the reason he returned…his father Olav is sick in hospital. But from reading The Snowman, it becomes apparent that as much as he tries to fight it, he cannot leave his crime-solving days behind…he HAS to stop the bad guys! That is the brilliance of Hole’s character, yes he’s the typical off-the-wall detective but he’s way more complicated and that’s why we come back and why HE comes back time and time again, risking life and limb to stop deadly, psychotic serial killers from striking again.

The Leopard is an exciting, breathtaking, thrill ride of a novel and as well as keeping with The Snowman’s style, Nesbo even brings ‘The Snowman’ into this one! Which, if you’ve read that book…you will get goosebumps on the back of your neck and actually become a little frightened. I think it was a brilliant idea to do that because it reinstated the idea that, just because you’ve caught the bad guys…doesn’t mean they disappear…they continue to have the same thoughts, ideas, emotions that you were aware of before and it brings the initial fear right back to you. But don’t worry, ‘The Snowman’ is still incapacitated…increasingly so, it seems.

I think it’s also interesting that we share a lot of the same fears and feelings as Harry. As soon as Kaja (the attractive female officer who drags him back from Hong Kong…) appears on the scene, we immediately think ‘Oh god, she’s going to be in danger’ and it is apparent that Harry feels the same way, keeping her at a distance for a while…but from our knowledge of Harry’s personality, we know that if he does allow himself to get close to her, he will protect her if it is the last thing he does.

I love Nesbo’s writing! We empathise, sympathise, share the same fear and the same emotions…albeit from the comfort of the tube/sofa/bed. I even felt a bit claustrophobic after the avalanche traps Harry and Kaja up in the mountains! This really is a credit to Nesbo’s style. His descriptions are tangible, the narratives are enthralling and the characters are really believable!

I’m desperate to get my hands on some of the earlier ‘Harry Hole’ books and try to see what has made him into the character he is in The Leopard. I know some people don’t approve of reading the books in the “wrong” order but I don’t think it matters…I love postmodern/disjointed, mixed-up narratives as it is!

If you haven’t read The Snowman yet – shame on ¬†you! Go and read it now! Then read The Leopard maybe not straight away…you’ll be terrified! You won’t sleep! Fortunately, unlike me…you won’t have to read The Snowman when there are ACTUAL snowmen in your street and well, everywhere!

But I urge you to give Jo Nesbo a try…you won’t regret it!

‘The Snowman’

Oh my! This book is incredible! The main place that I read ‘The Snowman’ was on the train, which unknowingly made me very suspicious of EVERYONE else on the tube! It was literally chilling! (Pardon the pun…) I can’t believe that this is the first of Jo Nesbo’s novels that I’ve read! Where have I been? Fortunately, I have been assured by the lovely people at CCV that there are more to come!

From the start of the novel, it becomes clear that the title represents something a lot more terrifying than Raymond Briggs would have us believe!

One night in Oslo, a young boy wakes up to find his mother missing. When searching for her, he discovers wet footprints on the stairs…he looks outside and is faced with a snowman, glistening in the darkness…wearing his mother’s scarf.

Troubled but brilliant DI Harry Hole is assigned to the case, along with newly appointed Katrine Bratt. A mysterious but efficient woman who is determined not to take any rubbish from anyone! Soon after finding the first snowman, Harry recieves an anonymous letter from ‘The Snowman’, indicating that the woman’s disappearance wasn’t simply an unloved wife running away but something a lot more sinister!

As the story unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear that ‘The Snowman’ has a vendetta against married women with children…but also that he has met his match in Harry Hole. This thrilling, disturbing crime novel keeps you guessing right until the end, leading you towards one opinion before smashing it completely and leaving a trail of doubt in your mind. Nesbo’s writing is fantastically gripping, he describes scenes with such tangible details that stay with you, hauntingly for days!

An absolutely fantastic read! But if you’re a scaredy cat (like I am…) I’d recommend reading it before Christmas, when you are faced with snowman, after snowman, after snowman on your way home…or you may become a hermit!