review

New Books by Jo Nesbø and Donna Leon

I’m catching up with a few thoughts about new books I’ve read recently: first a short thriller by Jo Nesbø, Blood on Snow and next the latest installment in Donna Leon’s long-running Inspector Brunetti series set in Venice, Falling in Love.  They were both fairly short, quick reads, which means I don’t have lots to say about them, hence the round-up post.

blood on snowBlood on Snow by Jo Nesbo, translated by Neil Smith

Knopf, April 2015

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.

Blood on Snow is a short book, the start of a new series that is being adapted into a movie by Channing Tatum’s production company. Olav is a freelance fixer/ hitman, and this particular story finds him on the run from a previous employer or two and developing feelings for one of his targets. Because it’s such a short book, the action feels a bit more improbable than it would feel in a longer Harry Hole novel, but it was still an entertaining thriller. Overall, I like the Hole series better because the characters are more developed, and I’ve invested more time in them, I think.

Another review appears in EuroCrime.

And from a short thriller, I moved on to a book that focused more on the setting and characters than the mystery. The investigation in Falling in Love centers into a stalker of an opera star that Brunetti helped years earlier, Flavia Petrelli.  While I’m not a huge opera aficianado, Leon covers enough about the central opera of Tosca that I didn’t feel lost.

falling in love

Falling in Love by Donna Leon

Atlantic Monthly Press, April 2015

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.

It’s nice to return to series when I’m a bit distracted by everything else. I liked that the book didn’t focus entirely on the tracking of Flavia’s stalker and instead spends time on Brunetti’s relatively undysfunctional family life and the more dysfunctional workings of his police department.

Leon is quite critical of the tourist trade in Venice and what it means for the city, and the actual story doesn’t glorify the city at all. It’s an antidote to the tourist-version of Venice, for sure. I enjoyed this entry, but I probably would have enjoyed it more if I’d read more of the Flavia-centered books earlier in the series.

Another review appears in Crimespree Magazine.

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10 thoughts on “New Books by Jo Nesbø and Donna Leon”

  1. With Nesbo’s latest, I was kind of thrown off with the 1st person POV. Reminded me too much of Headhunters even though the stories are different. I will give it a go anyway.

    As for Donna Leon, well, I’ve yet to start her and want to do so. I have the first book but just too many *other* books vying for my attention right now.

    1. First person doesn’t work for me all the time, but I liked this narrator. I’m not sure I would have if the book had been longer, but it’s a personal preference thing, I think. Happy reading to you!

  2. I wasn’t aware that Nesbo had started a new series, but I am so far behind on the Harry Hole series that it does not matter. I won’t try it for a long while. I only read one of the Donna Leon series and I have the next few to read, but like many authors, I haven’t gotten past the first book. Too much choice and not enough time, I suppose.

  3. I don’t think I’ll read Nesbo’s new book just because I have too many books to read and I’m not fond of books about hitmen.
    But, I eagerly await the new Guido Brunetti book. I love this series and just gobble up every new book in a day or two. I can’t put them down. And the more about the Brunetti/Falier household and the questura, with its fascinating staff, the better for me. The two main women in the series, Paola Falier and Elettra Zorzi are just icing on the cake, so to speak.

    1. I think I’m missing out on lots of shenanigans in the questura because I’ve only read a handful of books in the series, but I am impressed by how Leon balances the storylines. These are also quick reads, which is nice. Hope you enjoy it, Kathy.

  4. I also like that Donna Leon tackles social, political and economic issues in her books, but not with a heavy hand. And usually the culprits are the rich, powerful and well-connected — and, as in true, in the world, as the author says, few of them get justice.

  5. I just read Falling in Love and enjoyed it a lot, including the Falier/Brunetti conversations and Elettra Zorzi’s being “on strike” and reading Sciascia. It’s the family and the questura relationships that give these books much enjoyment, and Brunetti’s reflections on life in Venice.

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