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Blood on Snow    by Jo Nesbo order for
Blood on Snow
by Jo Nesbo
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I've been a fan of Jo Nesbo's gripping Harry Hole thrillers since their first North American release and have also enjoyed his standalones - Headhunters and The Son. This new volume, Blood on Snow, is a lyrical short novel/long novella about an Oslo contract killer, a romantic hit man who might easily have had a very different and much happier - and longer - life.

The story opens as fixer Olav muses over blood dripping on snow from his latest victim - 'the snow under him made me think of a king's robe, all purple and lined with ermine, like the drawings in the book of Norwegian folk tales my mother used to read to me.' Olav works for mobster Daniel Hoffman. And he's obsessed with the idea of love. He fell hard for Maria, 'Deaf and dumb, with a limp', protected her, paid her debts, and regularly stalks her to assure himself that she's safe.

Now Hoffman wants Olav to fix his wife, making it look like a break-in. So he watches beautiful Corinna Hoffman, in order to put a plan together. Olav being Olav, he falls in love. When he sees a younger man visiting and beating Corinna, he decides to do something about it. He fixes her lover, which is when all hell breaks loose. Olav and Corinna end up on the run, in a seemingly impossible situation. So Olav forms a perilous alliance with Hoffman's competition in the heroin trade, the Fisherman.

Flashbacks reveal Olav's childhood with a weak mother and an abusive jailbird of a father - and the decision point when he tore up his university acceptance letter. His journey in Blood on Snow is a dark one, filled with violence and betrayal, but 'strangely beautiful', just like the title.

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