Novel Approach: Bestselling crime novelist pens a family tale in 'The Kingdom'

“That's what people do who love you. They put their arms around you and love you when you're not so lovable.” — Deb Caletti

Blood is thicker than water, right? Many people are willing to put themselves at risk for their family (adopted or biological) but how many are willing to kill for their loved ones? Our latest read transports us to a wintery village in Norway where one man is forced to reconcile with his past crimes and consider what else he’s willing to do to protect his brother.

The Kingdom by Jo Nesbo

Nordic crime novelist Jo Nesbo’s latest novel is not another Henry Hole mystery, but a standalone that follows the life of a sleepy village in Norway. “The Kingdom” is a lengthy crime drama about a pair of brothers who have been keeping more than their fair share of secrets while living in their family’s farmhouse just outside of town.

After years abroad, Roy’s younger brother Carl returns home with a wife and a get-rich-quick scheme in his back pocket. The two brothers share an oddly close relationship, which given their less than bucolic childhood won’t be too surprising for readers. What will shock them is just how far the two brothers are willing to go for each other and just how much they’re willing to sacrifice to keep their secrets.

“The Kingdom,” much like a rollercoaster begins slowly as Nesbo sets the stage and explains the intricate web of connections all of the characters have with each other after living in a small town together for decades. Once all of the characters are in place, Nesbo flips the switch and sends readers hurdling along the track as he reveals the numerous crimes the brothers have committed and the motives that led them along their path. This twisted and twisty crime novel admittedly does drag along for the first quarter of the book, but once the narrator explains where the proverbial and literal bodies are buried, readers will find themselves compelled to find out what will happen to the brothers after the last of the 500 plus pages.

Readers be warned the first few pages open with a grizzly animal related accident and the book does include plotlines about the sexual assault of minors and incest.

From the book jacket…

Roy has never left the quiet mountain town he grew up in, unlike his little brother Carl who couldn’t wait to get out and escape his troubled past. Just like everyone else in town, Roy believed Carl was gone for good. But Carl has big plans for his hometown. And when he returns with a mysterious new wife and a business opportunity that seems too good to be true, simmering tensions begin to surface and unexplained deaths in the town’s past come under new scrutiny. Soon powerful players set their sights on taking the brothers down by exposing their role in the town’s sordid history.

But Roy and Carl are survivors, and no strangers to violence. Roy has always protected his younger brother. As the body count rises, though, Roy’s loyalty to family is tested. And then Roy finds himself inextricably drawn to Carl’s wife, Shannon, an attraction that will have devastating consequences. Roy’s world is coming apart and soon there will be no turning back. He’ll be forced to choose between his own flesh and blood and a future he had never dared to believe possible.

If you enjoy…

Readers who enjoy the dark twists in Nesbo’s “The Kingdom” might also enjoy the cinematic highs and lows of Linwood Barclay’s novel “Elevator Pitch.” The crime novel follows multiple characters as a killer terrorizes New York City by making all of the elevators go haywire.