- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 16 hours and 46 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: April 26, 2011
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004XXVT00
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Redbreast Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
It's easy to see why, literally from the opening moments of the book. The pace is leisurely, but perfectly cadenced. The detail is carefully chosen, the revelations of character and depth drawn in easy strokes. This has to be attributed in part to translator Don Bartlett, but one must assume it was there in the first place.<
The book is set in the present, but its events cover a good deal of time. They go back to World War II, a time when some young Norwegian men willingly fought for Hitler. The plot includes the story of a war hero as well. So out-of-control and alcoholic Hole is plunged into a mystery whose elements reach far and wide.<
Hole is a wonderful, rich creation. And so is the villain in this book.<
"The Redbreast" is an ambitious book, a mystery, thriller, and serious work of literature combined. The fact that it is highly successful in each of its modes makes it the best thriller of the year - from any country.
I was extremely excited to get this book after reading the blurb on Amazon. A murder mystery, set partially in modern Norway (a beautiful country I would love to visit) and partially on the Eastern front during WWII, covering both real Nazis and neo-Nazis, seemed like it could be a great read. I haven't been as excited to get a book by a new author in a long time actually. When I received the book and read the dust cover I got even more excited...apparently this book was voted "the best Norwegian crime novel EVER". As if that were not enough, apparently Jo Nesbo is a well-regarded pop music talent in Europe with several top ten hits and is also an economist. My wife noted that he was also exceptionally good-looking. I decided, with a little effort, to not hold all of this spectacular over-achievement against Nesbo, and just try to enjoy the book. I jumped Redbreast to the front of the crowded reading queue and got started.
Before I venture into my thoughts on this novel let me preface my comments by saying that this is an exceptionally good book and I very much liked it. There several items which as I was reading struck me as noteworthy and which I believe are worth sharing here. These are not meant to be negatives, just observations that interested me.
The first hundred pages were slow going and I wasn't gaining much traction. There was nothing wrong with the writing but the story wasn't immediately engaging. After you cross that first hundred page barrier though the story picks up steam and becomes riveting. There were a few things about the book which could be a little off-putting but I think they are understandable in context. There is some dialogue that can seem odd, but I'm sure that it has to do with difficulties in translating from Norwegian. There are always unique cultural thought processes and manners of expression which do not smoothly translate from one language to another. These odd bits are noticeable but they do not detract from the story. Actually they made me pay more attention. There is much less character development of the protagonist, Harry Hole, than I would have expected. In thinking about the book I believe it is for two reasons. Nesbo has written seven books which feature Harry Hole. This is the third in the series but the first two haven't been translated yet. I wish they had been because I would have preferred to start at the beginning, and not having the background from the first two novels does make it harder to figure Harry out and to identify with his character. You do get there, but it takes much longer when you are essentially dropped into the middle of his life-story without any context. I'm reasonably sure the missing character development can be found in the first two books. The other reason there may have been less character development of Harry is that significant chunks of the book are about other protagonists. Another item which struck me was that if the reader is paying attention they will solve the mystery about 90% of the way through the book, but it takes Harry a little longer. There was nothing particularly wrong with this, it's just that in my experience the reader either gets to understand the mystery from near the beginning and then we cheer the protagonist on as they fit the pieces together, or its the other way round, the protagonist fits the pieces together for us and all is revealed to the reader by the competent sleuth at the denouement. I actually kind of liked struggling with Harry to solve the baffling mystery and getting there just a little ahead of him. It was just that I felt this was unusual enough to be worth noting, perhaps an approach unique to Nesbo or perhaps something we'll see more of in the future from other writers. One last unusual item, especially since some readers may be bothered by it, was that there was a tangetial murder that was not solved and a bad guy who was not nabbed. Perhaps this will be revisited in one of the succeeding Harry Hole novels when they are translated, or perhaps this is Nesbo realism. You can't catch all the bad guys all the time.
As I said, the foregoing are not meant to be negatives. I found the book to be thoroughly enjoyable after the first one hundred pages of set-up. The mystery, which bounces back and forth from WWII to the present was a truly excellent one that will leave you baffled and then thoroughly satisfied once the pieces fall into place. In fact, I think the mystery was handled exceptionally well. Although it didn't start this way, this novel did develop into one of those books that you don't want to put down. There was also one particular scene in the book which spiked my tension and stress levels way past any other reading experiences lately and I admired the skill with which Nesbo crafted that scene. I found myself wanting to shout warnings out loud to the character...that is some pretty strong writing when you become so involved you start to talk to the characters in the book! All in all, while I don't know if this is the best crime book ever from Norway, it is still a very fine crime book indeed and I will definitely be reading anything by Nesbo I can get. In fact, I think the biggest weakness of this book was simply the lack of preparatory Harry Hole novels. I hope they translate them soon.