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by Jo Nesbø and Don Bartlett, trans.
Harvill Secker, March 2009
464 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 1846550408

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

It's obviously a risky business being a member of the Salvation Army in Oslo – you're liable to end up with a bullet in the head. And as there's no suspect, no gun and no obvious motive, Inspector Harry Hole and his team look like they've got a serious problem on their hands.

On the surface, Hole sounds like too many other cops that we come across in the genre – a maverick with a drink problem. But the quality of Jo Nesbo's writing turns him into a character you root for every inch of the way.

If you've kept up with the series so far, you'll know that there's been police corruption plaguing Hole and his team. The fall-out from that is in the background, but still nagging away during THE REDEEMER. And Hole's sympathetic old boss Bjorne Moller has been shunted sideways on the route to retirement, and in his place is a fitness fanatic with a fondness for military metaphors and no time for mavericks with a drink problem.

We get to know early on in THE REDEEMER who the killer is. But Nesbo stokes the tension up high and adds in several crafty twists as Hole and the team try to corner the hitman.

The slight disadvantage is that I didn't care in the least about any of the Salvation Army characters – and I think you'd have to be a fairly heavy-duty devout person to think much of them. So in the end – and it's a tribute to Nesbo's tight writing and Don Bartlett's brisk translation – the book wins out because of its vivid atmosphere (set during a bitingly cold winter) and the twists and turns of a plot that is thriller writing of the highest order.

As always, the story impacts hugely on Hole's personal and professional life. And it takes him into Eastern Europe in the search for the killer, and also shows him whom he can trust among his colleagues.

THE REDEEMER is simply outstanding. Although I now have a cast-iron excuse to steer clear of vacuum cleaners ....

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, March 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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