The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Redbreast is the third of Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole series. I wasn’t crazy about the first book, but I heard many good things about the series and decided to continue. I enjoyed the second book much more, and I could see why the series was so popular. Having heard the first two books tend to be the least favourite of readers, I was excited to move onto what is considered the good stuff.
With book three, my feelings are somewhere in-between. I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed the first book, but I did not enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the second book. I’m going to continue reading the series, as I’m curious to see how things progress, but I doubt Harry Hole will ever make it into my list of favourite detectives.
While I did find The Redbreast to be an enjoyable read, I was never as crazy about the book as I had hoped to be. I enjoyed watching the story unfold, I was more than happy to keep turning the pages, yet I was never completely sucked into the tale. It was a solid three-star rating, something I am happy to say I have read but not something I will be throwing towards other readers.
Part of me questions whether it was because of my surroundings when reading the novel. I had a training course for work in Glasgow, and the journey there and back between Aberdeen meant I needed quite the hefty read to keep me entertained for the few hours of train journey. I’m the kind of person who likes to put on the front of being a respectable reader when in public, thus I opted for one of my lengthier crime novels rather than the paranormal romance with the shirtless males on the cover (note, I do not mean reading crime novels makes you a respectable reader and reading paranormal romance novels means you are not, I just get embarrass when people read over my should and would rather their eyes stumbled upon blood and guts rather than the kinds of bodily fluids you stumble upon in steamy novels). Thus, reading this on a train with the usual noise around – on a train that left at stupid o’clock in the morning, no less – meant it took a while before my head was truly in the story, and more than once my attention was pulled away from the story. Therefore, I question whether all of the troubles I had with this book can be attributed to the story, as I feel as though some of it can be attributed to my reading conditions. Such is neither here nor there, you’re more interested in why I could not connect with this one.
With the first book I was disappointed by the cliched crime novel characters. With the second book I felt as though the issue was remedied somewhat. With this third book I felt as though things slipped slightly. It was enjoyable to watch the way Harry Hole’s character continued to grow, but I felt as though some of the side characters were caricatures of expected roles. More concerning for me, however, was how some of the storylines were not resolved in this one. I’m hoping it is because these elements will continue in the future books, but as such has not been the case thus far a part of me is worried. My fingers are crossed that we do return, though, as I’m really excited by the possibilities put forward by some of the character storylines.
I think for me the hardest part was the back and forth in time, trying to wrap my head around all the details. I enjoyed the story, even if I did think it was a bit slow at times, but keeping names and details straight in my head was somewhat difficult. I also feel as though I do not have enough knowledge about the past to have understood all of the details for the storyline linked in with the war. I’m sure many feel this way when reading British books, though, so I cannot hold it against the author – it’s just a reflection of the way we are educated, whereby we know more about our own culture than others.
Overall, this was an okay third book. It wasn’t enough to leave me crazy about the series, but I will be continuing in the hope I get answers to some of my lingering questions.
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