[507]: Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø

DSC00035 GOODREADS SUMMARY | Random House Canada | Hardcover, 208 pp. | April 7th, 2014 | Adult Fiction | Thriller | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Jo Nesbø is a household name in the suspense/thriller genre. And since I’ve rarely venture out into that aisle of my bookstore, I’ve yet to discover all the hows and the whys he’s so popular. At 208 pages, this book did its damnest to convince me that he is as prolific in the genre as everyone claims him to be.

I get it. I get his style. I get his characters and the brutal violence that he could very well be known for. This man has written a number of books; including a couple of stand-alones that are critically acclaimed. As an inexperienced reader of noir fiction, I’m hardly an expert. But I hope you’ll give me some leeway when I say that Scandinavian thrillers are a different beast altogether. I think did him a disservice when I tagged this book as pulp fiction during the first few chapters of my reading. Truth is, it really is not.

It’s difficult to develop a rapport with a character whose line of work dealt with the murder of suspect characters. But Olav is what you would consider as an assassin with a heart. Depending on the assignment, the chances of him saving a kill is more than likely to happen. He does his research well; he finds anything worth saving before he goes for the kill. It’s a deterrent to success in his line of work. After all, he can’t save everyone. And while he is a killer with a kind heart, he could be also be as cold as a trained assassin could be.

His latest assignment led him to a whole world of trouble. He was to kill the wife of the man who give his assignments. During his usual surveillance, he found out that she was, indeed, cheating. But the circumstances can’t be as black and white. He sees the man beats her before they have sex. He concludes that he was blackmailing her, hence the forced sex. He didn’t anticipate how badly things will turn out when he decided to kill the man instead of his boss’ wife, however.

For such a short novel, Nesbø was able to give Olav depth in characterization: he’s not a very smart man; he’s naive. He killed his father. He can’t rob a bank, or be a pimp. He doesn’t smoke, drink or do drugs. He compares himself to his version of Hugo’s Jean Valjean. He adores his mother. In one of his assignments, he decided to save a deaf-mute girl who was forced into prostitution to pay off a debt. He’s been writing her an unsent letters ever since.

Amidst the violence, blood, and gore, there is something romantic about Olav’s line of work. Or perhaps, it’s Olav himself. Nesbø gave his readers a larger than life character that’s neither good or bad; hero nor villain; a saint, as much as he was a sinner.

Jo Nesbø’s latest work is good enough for inexperienced noir readers. It’s not as evolved as perhaps his Harry Hole series, but highly recommended if you’ve ever thought of trudging through an unexplored genre.

  • I’ve always been curious about his books! I remember when the first was translated and brought to the US, they said it was a successor to the Millennium books, which I really liked.

    Is it bad that I’d quite like to have that slash through the o in my last name? It’s awesome looking. 🙂

  • A killer with a heart? Now that’s new.

  • Oh wow, I must admit that I haven’t heard of this author before. But, this story-line sounds facinating! I’ve just come off the Throne of Glass series so I’m all into assassins at the moment. ;] Brilliant review Joy! :]

  • purplebook6

    This reminds me on a movie I watched awhile ago, but I forgot the name. Olav seems like an complex and intriguing characters. I’ll have this book in mind when in mood for thrillers, glad you enjoyed it.

    • He is a different kind of character altogether. I think non-readers of the genre will enjoy his character.

  • Thrillers aren’t really my thing, but it is good to see the author did well with this shorter read.

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

    • They aren’t mine either, but I’m so glad I found this author!

  • I’ll admit, I haven’t ventured out to *adult* thrillers, either, but this sounds really interesting. Murder is a topic I’ve always been interested in reading, and Olav sounds like an intriguing character. Glad you ended up enjoying this, Joy! 🙂

    • Thanks, Aimee. I always find it interesting to read something I’m not used to. It’s like unwrapping a present every time. 😀

  • I’ve not read anything by this author before, but its always refreshing when you try out a genre you don’t normally read and it ends up working for you. Thank you for putting this book on my radar Joy, I shall certainly consider giving it a go when I’m in the right mood for it! 🙂

    • You’re welcome! Thriller is worlds apart from my usual weapon of choice, but it truly is exciting to find something new and shiny. Lol.

  • Oh yes the one genre I do not read 😉

  • Weirdly enough, this is the first I’m hearing about this author. maybe because I don’t venture into fullon suspense/thrillers very often. I kinda like the idea of an anti-hero assassin. Havn’t come across many of those often!

    • I’ve seen him around, but I’ve never really been interested in reading his books. I think I’m a changed woman. 😀

  • I do have a few Jo Nesbo books that I have yet to try, but I hope to do so soon! They sound like some awfully good mysteries. As well as that, I feel like this author could be compared to that of the Girl and The Dragon Tattoo. If they co-wrote a book, I get the impression that it would be good 🙂

    • Yes. Those Scandinavian writers, I tell ya. 😀

  • So is this like Stieg Larssen’s in the sense that their boundaries are very different from their North American counterparts. The Millennium series is a favorite of mine. I love the ruthlessness of it.

    • Stieg Larssen is a good example of why thrillers from that part of the world are miles above the rest. Just sayin’ . 😀

  • Well, damn! This sounds so intense. And an assassin with a heart! How am I ever going to resist that? Is it weird that I’ve never heard of this author despite him being apparently so popular?
    I need to go to bookstores more instead of doing online shopping!
    Great review, Joy!

    • Olav instantly will held you hostage from page one. I hope you’ll give this book a try!

  • One of my very favorite series is about an assassin with a heart, so I’m a little in love with Olav already, even if he can be as cold as I would think that line of work would require. I haven’t read anything by this author, but I’m glad to know you enjoyed this book overall Joy!

    • Olav should really have been casted as a romantic hero, because this man sure loves to fall in love. 😀

  • How have I not even heard of this yet? I am ashamed to admit I don’t even know much about the genre but I can see I totally need to fix that and look into this author more.
    Wonderful review! I am so intrigued by this now! 😀

    • I’ve only learned of this book when it showed up on my doorstep. It really was a great read!

  • I rarely read mysteries and thrillers too, which is totally weird because I always enjoy them when I do. It was the first genre I read compulsively in my teens. Anyway, I think I own a book or two by Nesbo, I should get to them one of these days.

    • Oh hey. You got me beat. This is my first Nesbø. I hope you’ll enjoy them, Maja!

  • Great review Joy 😀 Yay for enjoying this book! <3 I should probably read his books, considering we are from the same country.. but still not my genre. Hmph. ONE DAY 😀 You do make this book sound awesome. <3 Thank you for sharing about it sweetie 🙂

    • Yep. He’s popular! Though, don’t force yourself. 😀

  • It seems stupid, but a little Scandinavian pride wells up in me when I see someone reviewing a Norwegian book 😀 I really think Norway has a lot of awesome things, Nesbø included, and it’s so lucky how close the language is to Danish, so I don’t even have to find translations usually!
    Great review (:

    • I’ve read a couple of mystery/thriller novels written by Danish and Norwegian authors. They’re a different beast, really. Brutal, real, and just in your face.

  • Ooh, colour me intrigued Joy. I usually steer clear of these types of fictional thrillers, mainly because in adult, there always seems to be a womanising aggressor that makes me seethe throughout most of the storyline, but an assassin with heart? That’s possibly the difference for me to enjoy it really. The fact that he kills her blackmailing ‘lover’ (and using the term loosely) and not the woman he’s paid to kill? I need this book in my life. Honestly Joy, I spend a fortune every time I read one of your reviews, I’ve got a collection of over 20+ pleasure reads on my shelf of adult books that you’ve recommended. Incredible review, you’ve completely sucked me in again 😀 <3

    • This one doesn’t have a womanizing aggressor. Olav is a lamb. 🙂