Monday, September 5, 2011

'The Redbreast' by Jo Nesbø

A book about neo-Nazis and psychotic gunmen running around Oslo was a disconcerting thing to be reading on the 22nd of July, 2011, as Anders Breivik went on the rampage. Despite how this sounds, Nesbø has fashioned a surprisingly subtle and intelligent thriller, whose parallels with the Norway attacks are fuel for the fire of those who claim that crime novelists are often the writers with their fingers closest to the national pulse.
Nesbø has been around a while, though he's only really come to prominence on the back of the Stieg Larsson-instigated wave of interest in Scandinavian crime fiction.

'The New _____________' labels of any kind tend to make my teeth all itchy, but it is particularly unhelpful in the case of comparisons between Nesbø and Larsson, as Nesbø is the superior writer by a fjordic mile. Where Larsson throws sordid sex scenes, product placement and half-baked cliffhangers at nearly every chapter, Nesbø brings an informed view of history and society and in his protagonist,  Detective Harry Hole, we get a highly believable, nuanced character capable of evincing genuine pathos.

And a much finer bandwagon to be on.