The noir Phillip Marlowes all seem to have flown away to Europe in recent years. Most of the old style detective stories are now being written in Sweden (by Kjeld Eriksson) and Norway (by Jo Nesbo). I even think that the Lizbeth Salander trilogy borrowed heavily from the detective noir genre, which used to be an American export. Not that I’m complaining; I’m glad to see its resurrection. Even murder mystery novel could benefit from a Humphrey Bogart character.
The Redbreast’s Marlowe is Detective Harry Hole Like all noir detectives before him, Hole suffers from a vice. Nesbo went with the old stand-by of alcoholism, which plagues so many literary detectives. He had previous appearances in Nesbo’s first two books, but I have not found their English translations. The book does mention some of his early adventures, but it’s possible to read this one without reading the other two first.
The book starts out with Hole’s bumbling of an important political event, which gets him promoted from the police force to a Department of Homeland Security-like position, in order to avoid a scandal. Hole pieces together small tidbits of intelligence over the months that he’s there to reveal an issue of national security involving former Norwegian soldiers who fought on the German side on the Eastern Front during WWII. At times the story gets a bit unbelievable, but the fast pace and interesting characters make up for it.
The story ends without resolving a subplot, which is a bit of a letdown. Hopefully it will be resolved in the next novel as the characters involved in that subplot were very dull. I really hope he was not trying to make a Moriarty for Hole as this Moriarty is a bit, well, dim.