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Book Review: Jo Nesbo, 'Blood On Snow'


One of Scandinavia's leading crime novelists, Jo Nesbo, has a new book out about a contract killer who worries about money and his own shortcomings. It's called "Blood On Snow." Alan Cheuse has this review.

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Olav Johansen tells his own story almost all the way to the end of this book, a book you can easily read in one sitting - in one uneasy sitting. Johansen is a criminal with a specialty and a sense of humor. By his own testimony, he's not much good as a bank robber, no good as a pimp, no good as a getaway driver, but he's terrific at working as what's known as a fixer. He can pull a trigger, which he's just done in the opening pages of the novel. Nothing personal, he says, having just shot dead in the snow a gunman who works for a rival of his boss. Watching the man's blood drain into a snow bank, Johansen gives us a coolly delivered deposition on the nature of snow crystals in extremely cold weather and then calls his boss to tell him he's done his job. Things heat up immediately because his boss, a man named Hoffman, wants him to fix his wife. Right - he's ordered to kill his boss's wife. This new job sets in motion a chain of events that changes everything for the boss, for the boss's beautiful and adulterous wife, for the gang and for cool but distressed Olav Johansen himself. I won't deliver any spoilers here, but I can say the book moves along swiftly in the carefully controlled voice of the killer. And before you know it, you're in the middle of one of the wildest scenes in recent crime fiction: a shootout in the crypt of an Oslo church, where there's hardly any place to duck, just as in this entertaining novel, when the bullets fly.

CORNISH: The book is "Blood On Snow" by Jo Nesbo. Our reviewer was Alan Cheuse. His latest book is called "Prayers For The Living." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Alan Cheuse died on July 31, 2015. He had been in a car accident in California earlier in the month. He was 75. Listen to NPR Special Correspondent Susan Stamburg's retrospective on his life and career.