The Kingdom by Jo Nesbo

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Jo Nesbo, for me, is one of the best scandinavian writers up there with Ragnar Jonasson. There is just something about his Harry Hole series, besides the amazing plot and characters, that draws me in instantly when I see that there is another book being translated and published.

However The Kingdom has somehow managed to sneak past me and was surprised after Christmas to find that the book had been published and is available to be bought. So I didn’t linger too long on the Waterstone’s webpage and acquired it.

Now, to a certain degree, because it carried his name, I went into this book with a certain expectation. Expectations that usually Nesbo manages to match if not exceed. Yet after finishing The Kingdom I found myself longing for something more. Something that I couldn’t place my finger on.

Jo Nesbo does thriller well because he understand his readers.

I believe that once you publish as many books and carry the success that Nesbo has carried, something needs to be changed from time to time. You can’t simply carry on without challenging yourself as a writer, whether that means changing the genre in which you’re writing or by telling different stories from the ones that brought your success. I liked this about his books. I like that he doesn’t stick with a pattern and tries new things that probably excite him as a writer.

However as a reader, there is a reason why I return to Nesbo. Whether it is for the flawed characters (which The Kingdom has plenty of) or whether it is for the actioned packed plot, you return because you liked what you read. Right? There is something that appeals to you. It can be anything.

I mentioned in a previous post that Harry Hole for me is the stable for crime thrillers however I should have probably looked into the book more. Maybe then I wouldn’t have been disappointed to find a domestic thriller about two brothers that have had a difficult childhood and now that they are grown up they find themselves pushed with their backs against the wall when a cold case from when they were children gains the attention of the current police detective.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed The Kingdom however it isn’t what I expected when it came to a Jo Nesbo novel. It is definitely a more character driven novel than a plot driven novel than his Harry Hole series. There is a clear path set out for the protagonist from the beginning. You as the reader discover things from his perspective and understand why he is the way he is. Because of this the protagonist (if he can even be called a protagonist…) is the most striking feature that is still with me now that I read the book.

Nesbo does thriller well because he understands his readers. He understands that every promise he makes in the first part of the novel requires to have a reveal and a pay off (regardless if the reader agrees with it or not) towards the end of the novel. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who has enjoyed Nesbo in the past but also to new readers to the Nordic Noir genre who want to be gripped by a beautiful, pristine setting. I also would recommend this novel to aspiring authors who want to read and understand how a flawed character should be written.