This guy is one of the best writers page by page in crime fiction. His plotting is convoluted but always engaging and leads to so much mystery you keep wondering who dunnit. His sense of place -- Oslo -- is revetting. Despite Harry Hole's alcoholism, it is a nice change to accompany a sleuth who is not over ruled by angst or depression. He may be handicapped by his demons but not so that that is the over bearing storyline.
Nesbø also has a moral compas -- so very non judgemental -- that I strongly relate to as he does not take the easy peasy 'evil' route out as though that supposedly explains 'crime' and the rest of what ails us. Everyone lives in a Nesbø novel in the real tangible world of everyday life experience. Some grow up to be coppers/others become crims -- seemingly for very good personal reasons.
He also has a handy knack of making the best use of the characters he introduces us to as they come and go. Their roles are always serviceable and coincidentally --as you learn as you read on -- relevant to what may later unfold despite the author's penchant to assemble his novel as montage.
Nesbø also has a great feel for contemporary realpolitick especially the present day politics of Europe. So his stories are open to a lot of input from the rest of the world's penchant for struggle and tragedy. The plots aren't enclosed or inward looking despite the small size of their placement patch in Oslo.
Here there are multiple tragedies and personalities who come together to feed off one another in a multi layered plot about a determined hit man who takes a lot of pride in his work. Determination and pride such that you have to respect it.
But as with other works by Jo Nesbø there is a respect for the dead hand of history which bears down on the present. Both story and characters are placed in this chronological continuum where the individual story -- and a much broader human tragedy -- merges.
In his Redbreast Norway's occupation by Fascism during the Second World War is called to account and played out through a story of retribution.
In The Redeemer a parallel balance sheet is being addressed such that you feel when reading Nesbø you need to go back and check the actual history -- in this case, the slaughter of Croats in Vukovar in 1991.
Nesbø respects the consequences of history -- a sentence we cannot escape.