BOOK REVIEW: BLOOD ON SNOW / AUTHOR: JO NESBǾ / PUBLISHER: HARVILL SECKER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Olav has a problem. As a “fixer” for a 1970’s Oslo crime lord he has always been aware of his career limitations. When his boss then instructs him to kill the gangster’s unfaithful wife, these limitations come very much to the fore, making him question a potentially brief future that is further complicated by a sudden affection for the target.
Jo Nesbø’s latest novel, Blood on Snow, is an example of how to write crime fiction, exploring the complicated mind of mysterious hitman and unapologetic anti-hero Olav as he examines his own life amid unpredictable events he has so far done well to avoid. Despite his self-confessed educational shortcomings, this is a man with a lyrical, almost poetic view on what he does for a living, and does very well. There is no self-pity in Olav, only a darkly bleak understanding of who he really is, or at least thinks he is.
Nesbø’s prose is familiarly blunt, almost imperceptibly creating claustrophobic tension as Olav tries desperately to make the best of his spiralling situation. Moments of awkward and unaccustomed tenderness are interjected with unflinchingly brutal violence which will satisfy Nesbø’s existing fans, and the unavoidable ease with which you will lose yourself in Blood on Snow will surely attract many more. With a story that spans a concise 200 or so pages, coupled with a large typeface, this is a book that hooks you very early on and builds to a conclusion before you realise it; a session novel, if you will, that demands attentive completion in one breathless sitting.
If you have not read Nesbø’s work before then Blood on Snow is a perfect place to start. While perhaps not for the faint of heart, this is an addictively engaging novel that brilliantly explores the complicated psyche of a hitman. Impossible to put down, this is as stylish a thriller as your will read this year.