An Introduction to Jo Nesbo
Jo Nesbo is a byword for outstanding Scandinavian crime fiction. But what makes him so special? What makes him different? What makes readers fall in love with his books?
At Dead Good we’re passionate about recommending brilliant books, so you never have to pick up a bad book again. What better way to provide some insight into these authors than to ask those who choose to work with them – making their books the best they can be – what it is that makes them so special. Together we can discover new voices.
To kick off this series we have Senior Editor at Vintage Books, Alison Hennessey. Alison explains what makes Jo Nesbo so special.
“I started work at Random House just over 8 years ago, a few short months before Harvill Secker published their first Jo Nesbo book.
At that point in time, I probably wouldn’t have described myself as a crime reader. I loved psychological thrillers or gothic mysteries – but a detective series? I wasn’t convinced. And then I read Jo’s books and was introduced to a completely different world from the one I’d imagined: a world of snowy Oslo streets and a charismatic, damaged detective with plots that were so full of twists and turns that I couldn’t put them down because I just had to know what happened. While ‘unputdownable’ is often trotted out in publicity pitches or book blurbs, I found myself actually using that phrase in conversations when I raved to people about the books. When Jo was still relatively unknown in this country, it felt like there were a select group of us who knew the secret of these ridiculously addictive books but then, with the publication of The Snowman, I started to see people reading his books on the tube or on the bus, or piling them into their baskets at bookshops and supermarkets. All of them wore a similar expression, an expression I was very sure would have been glimpsed on my face as I read: fierce concentration that was only broken when their mouths dropped open at yet another twist or revelation.
But what I really love about Jo’s books is that they aren’t just about the pace of the plot – they might be a breathless read, but they’re also a complex one. I love the fact that through them I’ve leant about the far right movement in Norway and about Norway’s involvement in the Second World War. Jo’s characters feel real to me and their individual stories are just as involving as the hunt to find a killer; there aren’t many crime books in which I feel genuinely shocked and saddened when certain characters are killed.
I think the reason for the books’ freshness and originality is Jo himself. He was a promising footballer as a teenager, worked as a stockbroker and was in a very famous band in his native Norway. He’s a regular mountain climber and has his own literary charity. When your life is that busy and full of excitement, it’s not entirely surprising that your books are the same!
The Bat is where Jo’s series begins – after all I’ve said about Oslo’s snowy streets, this one actually takes place in the sweltering streets of Sydney where Detective Harry Hole is sent to investigate the murder of a young Norwegian girl on her gap year. It’s the perfect introduction to a series that only gets better as it builds.”
A big thank you to Alison for giving us a glimpse into Jo Nesbo’s world and what makes his books so unique. We’ll be reviewing The Bat very soon.
For more information check out Jo Nesbo’s Website.
The First Harry Hole Thriller: