This is my first book of Nesbo. I've been eager to read his work since many years, ever since Kjersti Iversen, a Norwegian friend of mine, had insisted that I would love the work of her countryman. I regret that I took this long to make that happen.
Typical of a fast-paced thriller, Nesbo hooks the reader from the word go. After all, what could be more compelling for thriller-lovers, than knowing that we are privy to the mind of a contract killer?
The most delightful parts are the ones where the well-read protagonist constantly offers various brilliant tidbits of information that enhance our understanding of the suspenseful story.
Olav is a killer with a difference. He has a heart, that's more sensitive than most normal people. The paradox of his ruthlessness towards his victims is a strong contrast to his generosity towards their loved ones affected by his crime. And it is this quality that brings about his doom.
The most endearing quality of the protagonist is his story-telling ability. Again, the paradox is strong because the dyslexic reader has a far higher IQ than most well-read people. And the stories he makes up in his head are charming in their originality. It is amusing to see him twirk even the tale of Les Miserables to suit his own psyche. It is this quality that offers a poignant twist in the climax.
Corina, the intended victim who charms her way into his heart, is predictable to the last page. Maria Olsen is an interesting, crucial addition in the storyline. Daniel Hoffman as Olav's boss and the 'Fisherman' offer the twists and challenge in the story. The other characters are forgettable.
All is well with Olav's life until he is hired to kill his own boss's wife. The story is rather predictable, down to the last details of who betrays who. However, the action sequences are different. The setting of the shoot-out scenes at night, during a church funeral, gives it a movie-like ambiance.
Olav's troubled relationship with his parents, especially with his mother is heartrending. The parental angle offers insights into the complicated nature of man-woman relationships.
The plot moves at a fairly good pace and reaches the inevitable climax with a predictable end. The killer with a heart of gold is not a new theme, but the treatment at Nesbo's skillful hands allows readers to revel in the unique experience.
I rate it 4.7 out of 5. It is a must-read for Nesbo fans and thriller lovers alike.
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Happy reading, readers.