20: The Redeemer

The RedeemerThe Redeemer by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Loaned to me.

Read in August 2013.

View all my reviews

The Redeemer is set in Norway and part of the enjoyment in reading it was learning about a country I’m not familiar with (but supposedly—possibly apocryphally—have ancestors from). It’s the sixth book in a series about police detective Harry Hole. (I have not read any of the others.) Harry is your typical damaged hero character. A recovering alcoholic, of course. He falls off the wagon at one point, but he has unwavering principles. Unlike some colleagues.

The story takes place in December and despite reading this in August I had a bit of a SAD attack just thinking about The Darkness. Oslo is at the 59th parallel, people. (59°57′ to be precise. Bergen is at 60°23′. For comparison, Whitehorse, Yukon is at 60°43’N.) eep. /digression

The story opens with a flashback to an incident at a Salvation Army summer camp in 1991. Two of the characters in this chapter are brothers Jon and Robert. As the story shifts into the present day, older brother Jon has a stable career with the Salvation Army and is engaged to fellow SA officer Thea, while younger brother Robert’s life is still unsettled.

[Note: the following is not a spoiler. It is given away on the back cover.] An assassin kills Robert while he is staffing a Salvation Army kettle at a concert (really!) but before the assassin can leave the country and disappear as he normally does after a job, he realizes he’s made a mistake. He was contracted to kill Jon, not Robert. He returns to Oslo to find Jon. Duh, duh, duh…

Ok, so I’m going to try to write about the ending without being spoilery. I thought the resolution was totally plausible in that it involved a person who had been in the story throughout. It wasn’t a deus ex machina or anything like that. But. Something felt off for me about it. Specifically, I felt like there was too much withholding of information in certain scenes (the point-of-view shifts between a few key characters) in order to misdirect. For sure, there were some clues, but maybe too much dependence on unreliable narration. Although, maybe if I reread it, I’d see it differently.

Nesbo is a fan of chapters that end leaving you thinking a character is dead. Then as the next chapter opens, you realize the character is actually not dead. In the end, the death count was fairly low (four).

My favorite character was probably Martine, the daughter of the Salvation Army commander, but I’m guessing she won’t be a recurring character in the series.

I liked that the characters were trapped up by modern technology. The assassin gets stuck because he can’t use his credit card or make a phone call or get on a plane. People are tracked by their phones. A computer is used to access voice mail. You know. Stuff that actually happens in the 21st century. I appreciate when writers adapt to new technology rather than, for example, making up some excuse for a character still having an answering machine (!) so it can blab a message at an inappropriate time.