Norwegian thriller-writer Jo Nesbo’s books have sold over 9 million copies. He currently has four books on the U.K. best-seller list. And his U.S. publisher is betting that his latest thriller, “The Snowman” featuring his popular hero, the alcoholic detective Henry Hole, will finally be his breakout success (so much so they ordered a first print run of 150,000). And while everyone is heralding Nesbo as “the next Stieg Larsson,” it’s not an apt comparison as Nesbo’s not “next” — he’s been publishing long before Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy hit the shelves. It’s a nice correlation, but it doesn’t mean he has to like it.
“There’s been a couple of blow-ups like Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson that probably have developed the interest, yes,” he says a tad testily when finally asked point-blank if Larsson’s success had anything to with the current worldwide interest in Scandinavian crime fiction (in fact, you’ll probably see more than a few blond thriller authors being marketed as “the next Larsson” this summer).
Nesbo points out that “The Snowman,” in which a serial killer preys upon unfaithful young mothers and leaves a snowman as his creepy calling card, is his work that’s best for a U.S. audience. “The series has been a slow burner in all markets — even in Norway — and [the series] didn’t have a breakthrough until the third or fourth book,” he says. “I believe ‘The Snowman’ is one of the strongest; a great one for Americans to start with.”
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