Scandinavian Crime Fiction
I have often wondered why I ‘enjoy’ reading about serial killers. I mean really, what is enjoyable about that? Actually I’m a real baby when it comes to suspense. I avoid scary movies at all costs and although I have great admiration for the king of scary, Stephen King, you won’t find one of his books on my bedside table. Nope, not for me. So it comes as somewhat of a surprise that I love what Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbo does with a story. Yes, sometimes the story gets gruesome and edgy, sometimes there is lots of blood and strangers waiting in a young woman’s dark apartment with murder in mind. But crazy as this may sound, I can handle it, in fact, I love it. Nesbo makes reading about murder palatable, the people who commit them interesting and the people who solve them lovable.I know I’m not alone in this: Nesbo has sold over 23 millions copies of his crime fiction.
Naturally, we Nesbo fans (and I hope you’ll become one too) rejoice that he has brought Harry Hole back to the investigating team. Harry is forced out of retirement to do battle with a serial killer who has a unique and oh so vivid taste for blood, literally. There are twists and turns in plot so surprising I couldn’t tell the good guys from the bad guys until the last chapter. Harry battles his addictions, struggle with love, life, family and his co-workers. This is a psychological thriller with great story and character development.
From Crime By The Book: “Nesbo also writes truly compelling characters that get under your skin. I don’t think I’ll be the only reader to find something relatable in Harry Hole’s discomfort with his newfound happiness—and whether or not it strikes a chord with you, I can guarantee you’ll be riveted by the personal trials Harry goes through in THE THIRST.”
JO NESBØ is a musician, songwriter, and economist, as well as a writer. He has written 11 Harry Hole novels including The Redeemer, The Snowman, The Leopard and Phantom. He put Harry Hole aside to write The Son, Midnight Sun, and Blood on Snow. He also writes children’s books. In this 2017 release Nesbo crafts a story so creepy and compelling I was on the edge of my seat the entire read! Don't be a baby, give The Thirst a try. You'll be glad you did!
Ah, summer. The blazing sun, the sand in my mouth, the threat of skin cancer- and even more worrisome, the prospect of what to read with all this free time.
I could go quintessential and tell you to pick up something good-feeling and a tad fluffy, a Jojo Moyes or a Colm Toibin, but sometimes I need a little bite with my summer sugar, ya feel me? I traveled far and wide across the land in search of an elusive idea, a beach read a tad dark, pages that maybe could keep me awake. My prayers were answered. The Book Gods threw me a bone, tossing a copy of Ruth Ware's 'In a Dark, Dark Wood my way.
It's an innocuous little thing, out in softcover and sharing a title with an old children's book. But as my lovely mother tells me when I avoid anything that looks like a vegetable, "don't judge a book by its cover." Like the tale it pens its name from, Ruth Ware's psychological feat is not for the skittish.
Picture this. A flock of passive aggressive ladies, an isolated cabin, a bachelor party designed by Alfred Hitchcock- buckle your seatbelts.
Spoiler alert: this book is the most fun you'll have all summer. And yes, I'm talking to you, mother, who won't read this book out of fear of encountering another wannabeGone Girl.
Which reminds me.
Dear readers of the world,
For the love of all that is holy, stop comparing everything to Gone Girl. Don't judge Ruth Ware's baby by it's back cover, wherein- drumroll please- compare her novel toGone Girl. Can we stop talking about Gone Girl for just a second here, please?
In a Dark, Dark Wood stands on its own two feet. More accurately, it sprints. It's as fun as a trashy romance but suspenseful enough to feel like a hefty Agatha Christie, and who wouldn't swoon at the mere thought of that combination?
Prep yourself for a read so engaging that when Ryan Gosling shows up at your beach house asking if you'd like to walk hand in hand along the sand at dusk, you tell him, "Ryan, shut up, I'm devouring a mystery novel involving a gaggle of complex women, their conflicting desires, and a foreboding gun on the mantel. Like boy, bye."
Blood On Snow By Jo Nesbo
Noir fiction is a literary genre in which the protagonist is not a detective, but instead either a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator. Other common characteristics include the self-destructive qualities of the protagonist. A typical protagonist of the Noir fiction is dealing with the legal, political or other system that is no less corrupt than the perpetrator by whom the protagonist is either victimized and/or has to victimize others on a daily basis, leading to a lose-lose situation.
Fairy Tales: As all good books do, fairy tales explore the dark and primal aspects of human nature--the deep corners of our psyches that we shy away from. That is the true reason they have lasted in the cultural imagination for hundreds of years; beneath their simplicity lies a world of social commentary and compelling darkness
Hello reader, I want to give you the ending of my review first: I liked this book!
Jo Nesbo’s latest work, Blood on Snow, reads either like a bloody fairy tale with an unhappy ending or like a psychological dissertation on dissociative disorder leading to criminal behavior. This is the story of Olav, a hired killer or “fixer”, whose clientele are the drug bosses of Oslo’s underworld. Olav appears to kill without remorse. At the same time he falls in love easily, gives all his money away to the widow of one of the targets he “fixed”, and rescues one of his intended victims.
The events of this short novel are both predictable and unlikely. Just like Olav, we can see that there is no way out of the tragedy that is his life. Olav romanticizes love, imagines a beautiful life with a beautiful woman. But alas, it will not happen.
There are many books in which in order to enjoy them one must suspend an attachment to what one considers reality. This is one of those books. Fairy tales are enduring because they invite us into another world where horrible things happen to the hero. Olav does not survive his horrible life, yet, there is just enough goodness in him to make me think deeply, and sadly.
Now why did I like this book? Nesbo has a writing style that is spacious – I flew through this story like a hot knife through butter. Olav is tragic and interesting and despite the overwhelming odds he keeps trying to do the right thing. We can only look on with regret at the disaster that unfolds.
This little book has staying power – I am still thinking about it a week later and I want to talk about it. Blood on Snow stands on its own without the happy ending I like in a book.
At The Edge of The Orchard by Tracy Chevalier
Fans of historical fiction I hope you are acquainted with author Tracy Chevalier. Perhaps best known for Girl With a Pearl Earring, Chevalier has gone on to pen other gems such as Remarkable Creatures and The Last Runaway. Her latest work, At the Edge of the Orchard, fit nicely into many of the areas I am particularly interested in: botany, trees, frontier life, the extraordinary feats of scientists and human relationships.
At the Edge of the Orchard contains two stories in one: initially we meet fictional characters Sadie and James Goodenough, a pioneer couple from Connecticut settling in the muddy stagnant black swamp of northwest Ohio in 1838. They could go no further west as their wagon was stuck in the mud. Along with their five children they fight for survival as they struggle to build an apple orchard on the edge of the swamp. James’ love of apples far outweighs his love of Sadie and this will ultimately determine the course of their relationship. Historical figure John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, makes brief appearances as he peddles his apple tree seedlings from a canoe up and down Ohio rivers.
Robert Goodenough, the youngest child of James and Sadie, strikes out on his own after a cataclysmic family event. How he travels to California, meets and works with historical figure William Lobb (responsible for the commercial introduction to England of the massive sequoias from North America) and ultimately comes to peace with his tumultuous past is the meat of this novel. Robert Goodenough is a reluctant protagonist. James and Sadie are passionate, tortured and complex. Chevalier’s character development is as rich and tart and at the same time sweet as a homemade apple pie. When I finished the story
I still wanted another slice of the Goodenough family. For me that is one of the signs of a good book –if I really enjoyed the story I miss the characters I have spent time with on the page.
Blog written by Judy Lemezis
Staff of Wellington Square Book Shop