The Redeemer (novel)

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The Redeemer
The Redeemer - book cover.jpg
Paperback edition
AuthorJo Nesbø
Original titleFrelseren
TranslatorDon Bartlett
(some scenes in Croatia)
LanguageNorwegian, English
SeriesHarry Hole (#6)
GenreCrime fiction
PublisherHarvill Secker
Publication date
Published in English
Media typePrint (Paperback)
Pages571 pp (Eng. paperback trans.)
Preceded byThe Devil's Star 
Followed byThe Snowman 

The Redeemer (Norwegian: Frelseren) is a novel by popular Norwegian crime-writer Jo Nesbø. It is the sixth entry in his Harry Hole series.[1][2]


In 1991, at a youth camp run by the Norwegian Salvation Army, the 14-year-old daughter of a senior Salvationist official is raped in a public toilet. Because of the Salvation Army's strict hierarchical setup, and also because revelation of the rape will severely damage the organisation's reputation, she does not tell anyone about the ordeal. The name of the assailant is not given. That same year, during the breakup of Yugoslavia, a young Vukovar Croat fighter witnesses atrocities committed by the victorious Serb militias in the aftermath of the Battle of Vukovar. The fighter, who receives the nickname "Little Redeemer", later becomes a professional assassin, who carries out contract killings in various European cities.

In the present day (2003), the assassin – calling himself Stankic – arrives in Oslo and kills a Salvation Army officer during a Christmas street concert. Stankic has a facial anomaly known as hyperelasticity, wherein his facial muscles can be manipulated voluntarily to stop people from recognizing him. As such, despite the murder happening in a public place, the Norwegian police get little useful information regarding the killer. Meanwhile, retiring Oslo police inspector Bjarne Møller gives his three main officers. – Jack Halvorsen, Beate Lønn, and Harry Hole – gifts. Hole's is a wristwatch which grows to annoy him due to its incessant ticking. Møller is replaced as senior police inspector by Gunnar Hagen.

Hole, Halvorsen, and Lønn are assigned to the murder of the Salvation Army officer, Robert Karlsen. When a murder attempt is made on Robert's brother Jon, it is believed that the Karlsen family is being attacked. With Hole's former girlfriend, Rakel Fauke, having left him and started seeing another man, Matthias Lund-Helgesen, Hole meets – and eventually begins a relationship with – Martine, the young woman who (unbeknownst to Harry) was raped in 1991. Hole finds clues that lead him to Croatia and to Stankic's minder, who is revealed to be the assassin's mother. He makes a deal with her to save her son's life, but upon returning to Norway discovers that a man wearing Stankic's clothes has been shot and killed by a police marksman. The dead man's face is all but obliterated and identification is near-impossible.

Halvorsen, Lønn's boyfriend, is fatally wounded outside Jon Karlsen's flat. Afterwards, Hole discovers that the blood of the dead man does not match that of Stankic, whose blood was found at the scene of Halvorsen's attack. Hole continues to follow Stankic, but now knows Jon placed the kill contract on himself by going to Croatia and setting up the hit under the guise of Robert. Jon switched places with his brother so that his murder could not be blamed on him. This had the additional bonus to Jon in that, had Stankic returned home before discovering that he had killed the wrong target, the hitman and his mother would believe they had killed the customer, thus rendering payment impossible and nullifying the need to complete the killing of the 'correct' brother.

Jon has been swindling the Salvation Army out of 5,000,000 krone for an apartment block. On the night of an indoor Christmas concert, Jon stands up his girlfriend, Thea, claiming that he is visiting his ill father in Thailand. Stankic and Hole both get the information from Thea that Jon is about to flee the country. Stankic catches up to Jon in a toilet some distance from the main airport terminal. Hole also catches up with the two and gets Jon to give a full confession, stating that anything said with a gun to his head is inadmissible in court. Jon tells everything, believing that he will be set free, but Hole instead tells Stankic that Jon's bag contains 5,000,000 krone and walks away. Behind him a single shot is heard as Stankic fulfils his contract by killing Jon and claims his payment.

Part of the confession includes that it was Jon, not Stankic, who fatally wounded Halvorsen. Hole also knows that it was Jon who raped Martine, and that he has been raping young girls regularly ever since. Owing to the high valuation that an antique dealer puts on the watch given to him by Møller, Hole also realises that his former boss was involved in the same group of corrupt police officers as his former nemesis, Tom Waaler. Hole goes to Bergen to speak with Møller, but after he describes that he was trying to do what was best for the force, Harry elects not to arrest him.

English translation[edit]

As with previous Harry Hole novels by Jo Nesbø, the book - called Frelseren in Norwegian - was translated into English by Don Bartlett.


  1. ^ East, Ben (25 October 2009). "The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  2. ^ Jakeman, Jane. "The Redeemer, By Jo Nesbo, trans Don Bartlett Reviewed by Jane Jakeman". Retrieved May 4, 2017.

External links[edit]