Jo Nesbo: outstanding Scandinavian noir

Scandinavian noirIf you have a taste for Scandinavian noir, you’re likely to have read at least one of Jo Nesbø’s novels.

Nesbø’s unforgettable Norwegian detective, Harry Hole, is featured in so many of his books that it’s tough for a fan of his work to accept stories from him about anyone else. Sadly, Nesbø has announced that he plans to end the long-running series. Perhaps Police, the tenth Harry Hole book, will prove to be the last. I hope not.


Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø

@@@@ (4 out of 5)


Grumbling aside, Nesbø’s other crime novels (Headhunters, The Son) may eventually prove to be a worthy substitute. The latest, Blood on Snow, is a case in point.

Olav is a contract hit man who works for Daniel Hoffmann, one of the two men who control Oslo’s heroin traffic. When Hoffmann gives him an unusual new assignment, Olav soon finds himself caught up in a convoluted sequence of events involving Hoffmann’s family and The Fisherman, the rival druglord.

Like Harry Hole and the protagonist in Headhunters, Olav is deeply flawed but follows his own internal moral compass. He’s worthy enough to attract our sympathy, engage us in the steadily building suspense, and keep us reading to the end. Perhaps there’s something in us all that craves to see the good in everyone? Maybe not. Characters that play supporting roles in these novels often appear to represent pure evil.

Jo Nesbø represents the leading edge of the Scandinavian noir school of crime fiction that has brought to light such luminaries as Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson in recent years — and Peter Hoeg, Maj Sjöwall, and Per Wahlöö in years past. Must have something to do with all that snow and cold, no?

For further reading

You’ll also love The outstanding Harry Hole thrillers from Jo Nesbo.

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For an abundance of great mystery stories, go to Top 20 suspenseful detective novels (plus 200 more).

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