The Kingdom, a review by Joanna

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The Kingom

Jo Nesbo

Published September 2020

Harvill Secker

550 pages


The Kingdom is a stand-alone suspense thriller about two brothers hiding dangerous secrets in a small Norwegian village. I’ve read most of Nesbo’s Harry Hole books, and several of his others, and had been meaning to get to this one for a while. It’s a hefty 550 pages, and the subject matter is quite dark (I don’t think I’ve read any Scandinavian fiction that isn’t!) so it took me a while.

Roy Opgard has lived alone in his remote mountain farmhouse outside of the small village of Os, since his parents were killed in a tragic accident and his younger brother left to attend university in the States. Now Carl is back, with a beguiling new wife, Shannon, and a grand plan to build a luxury hotel on their family land that will save the dying community. As old secrets and resentments are exposed, and more people keep dying, the brothers’ bond will be tested like never before.
What this book lacks in likeable characters and believability, it makes up for in atmosphere and clever twists. This is all told from Roy’s first person past perspective, and Nesbo toys with our sympathies – should we pity his loneliness and envy of his brother’s easy charm and success with women, or be repelled by his propensity for casual violence? I found I couldn’t guess what was going on or what would happen, but each reveal seemed depressingly obvious in hindsight. It’s a good book but a hard one to enjoy, and I found the ending a little frustrating. Nevertheless, Nesbo is a great writer so 4 stars it is.

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