Salvation Army: The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo

It’s inevitable. Mystery stories are always grounded in some level of manipulation by the author. A virtual army of murder suspects mysteriously comes into focus in the background, one at a time. Trusted figures reveal hidden motives. The author deliberately conceals some crucial element by simply truncating a scene before the reader can discern what’s happening. All this is the stuff of the traditional parlor mystery and locked-room puzzles parodied in the board game Clue (Colonel Mustard was found with Mr. Boddy in the Library, but Professor Plum did it with the Candlestick in the Dining Room).

In a well-crafted mystery, outright manipulation of this sort is kept to a discreet minimum, so that the reader doesn’t feel badly used. Jo Nesbo, whom I consider one of the best mystery writers alive, normally manages to drive his stories forward without creating a sense that I’m being duped. He failed the test in The Redeemer, the sixth of his ten novels to date featuring Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo police.

The Redeemer (Harry Hole #6) by Jo Nesbo @@@ (3 out of 5)

Despite all the early signs of a disturbing and credible Harry Hole tale, The Redeemer gradually unveils an awkward dependency on all the traditional tools of manipulation employed by so many of Nesbo’s forebears — and all too many of his contemporaries. The story becomes virtually unwieldy, with seemingly unrelated murder mysteries intersecting in suspect ways and too many characters turning out to be dramatically different from the ways they were first portrayed. To make matters worse, the theme behind the book’s title comes to light in the first pages and is repeated throughout in heavy-handed ways.

However, with all this said, Nesbo’s skill in building suspense, and my abiding interest in the profoundly complex character of Harry Hole, The Redeemer kept my interest to the end.

In recent years I’ve reviewed The Redbreast, Nemesis, and The Leopard, all of which I found to be brilliant, as well as The Bat, the first of Nesbo’s Harry Hole series, which was promising but clumsy.

For additional reading

This is one of The outstanding Harry Hole thrillers from Jo Nesbo.

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