Book Review: Jo Nesbo's The Kingdom


Is it worth analyzing a dark crime story, if it‘s just meant to quench a hunger as a sweet chocolate bar, which is tasty and gives an energy bust but in no time you‘ll be negotiating with your inner self to buy another? This is exactly the case with the newest Jo Nesbo standalone The Kingdom.


By no means I‘m apt to diminish Nesbo‘s mastery of creative writing. The Kingdom is yet another page-turner you‘d like to consume in one bite, and this hook-up is something you could never take away from this author. However, even the most twisted plot is no longer a surprise, if you‘re familiar with the writer‘s plotting pattern.


Though Nesbo is a genius of building characters. They are always well-thought of and polished to a diamond shine. In The Kingdom we are introduced to two brothers Roy and Carl Opgard who because of the car accident are left orphans at their adolescence in a small town, far from big Norwegian cities. Roy, the older one, always looks after his younger brother Carl, even in dark and extreme situations. But Carl leaves for the USA, only to return a decade later with a lovely wife, a posh car and a grand business idea to build a hotel on the rock and revive their small town.


Actually, it is almost impossible to present a plot summary without spoiling the reading to those who haven‘t opened the book yet. Brotherly relationship is far more complicated than Roy and Carl are showing: they‘re sharing deep secrets from the past and, in order to keep them buried, they‘re ready to go an extra mile. But all plans tend to be ruined and things always turn out to be going downhill in Nesbo style. The Kingdom is not an exception, and soon it becomes a series of "how to get away with murder."


Jo Nesbo sticks to his one narrator and doesn't follow the fashion of different angles to the story. It is Roy who is telling it, with the slides down to the past to clarify some of the events and returns to the present. You get a picture of a criminal mastermind in a plain rural young man‘s overalls who still has his own flaws, one of them being true love. The other characters are just a description of how Roy sees them, so we have to take them for granted.


Every time there‘s an announcement about a new Nesbo‘s book, you think of Harry Hole, the now famous fictional Norwegian detective from Oslo and his new complicated case. Therefore any diversion from this expectation represents only an acceptable substitute, which you‘re going to read anyway and even like it. "If you want to get by with the minimum of effort then pretending to understand less than you do is not the stupidest tactic to employ," Roy contemplates in his story. It seems that this time Nesbo has borrowed this tactic himself.

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