Book Review: Knife by Jo Nesbo

As an avid Nesbo and Hole fan, I couldn’t wait to dive into this new novel and see where Harry’s adventures would take him this time. Overall, I found Knife to be another riveting page-turner by Nesbo that delivers his signature dark and gritty style.

Knife by Jo Nesbo

AuthorJo Nesbo
GenreCrime, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Publication DateJuly 9, 2019
Length464 pages

Where to Purchase

Plot Summary

For those unfamiliar with the plot, Knife centers around our protagonist Harry Hole who has now left the police force and is working as a university lecturer. Harry gets drawn back into detective work when he learns that his ex-partner Rakel has been murdered. In typical Harry fashion, he makes it his personal mission to find Rakel’s killer no matter what rules he has to break or dangers he encounters.

The investigation leads Harry to uncover a serial killer who is targeting random victims in Oslo. The deeply disturbed murderer leaves distinctive stab wounds from a unique knife at every crime scene. As Harry delves deeper into Oslo’s criminal underworld for clues, he inches closer to Rakel’s murderer. However, the killer always seems to be one step ahead of Harry.

Classic Jo Nesbo Thriller

As a longtime Jo Nesbo reader, I found Knife to deliver exactly what I’ve come to expect from his Harry Hole books. Nesbo crafts an utterly gripping page-turner filled with shocking twists and turns. The pacing rapidly accelerates as Harry hunts the serial killer, leading to an intense and bloody climactic confrontation.

Throughout the thriller, Nesbo immerses the reader in the gritty streets of Oslo. Vivid descriptions of everything from dive bars to back alleys makes the setting feel starkly real. This dark and gloomy atmosphere perfectly complements the disturbing, high-stakes plot.

The Harry Hole Factor

Of course, a huge part of this novel’s appeal comes from the legendary detective Harry Hole himself. Harry remains a flawed, complex character battling inner demons. His determination to get justice for Rakel drives the plot, even as Harry seems to unravel from grief, obsession, and his old vices like alcohol.

It’s fascinating to see Harry walking the line between good cop and loose-cannon vigilante. As readers, we root for him to solve the case and achieve retribution, yet his increasingly unhinged methods make us worry at the same time. This duality adds moral ambiguity that makes Harry a compelling noir-style antihero.

Some Refreshing Updates

While staying true to the standard Harry Hole thriller formula, I felt Nesbo made some refreshing updates in Knife. For one, moving the setting outside of Hole’s familiar Oslo Police Department colleagues provides a nice change of scenery. Seeing Harry go rogue for personal reasons creates ripe tension and suspense.

Nesbo also weaves in social commentary on current issues like stabbings and gang violence impacting Scandinavian cities. This makes the story feel timely and grounded in real-world problems. Ultimately, these updates help keep the long-running series feeling fresh rather than repetitive.

Final Verdict

Knife delivers everything readers expect from a riveting Jo Nesbo thriller: breakneck pacing, graphic violence, an intricate mystery, and the ever-complex Harry Hole determined to catch a serial killer no matter the cost. I highly recommend Knife to both existing Jo Nesbo fans who won’t want to miss Hole’s latest case, as well as any thriller lover looking for a gritty, action-packed story. Just be prepared for a disturbing ride into Oslo’s criminal underworld! For me, Knife proves Nesbo remains a master of gritty Scandinavian crime fiction.


  • Paula Davis

    Paula Davis is a dedicated and seasoned content writer for Dreaming and Reading, where she brings her extensive knowledge and passion for literature to a wide audience of fellow book enthusiasts. With the heart of a true bookworm, Paula has immersed herself in the literary world, devouring approximately 50 books annually for the last 15 years. This impressive reading habit has not only provided her with immense joy but has also significantly honed her expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in the realm of book reviews. Her insightful and well-crafted reviews reflect her deep understanding and appreciation of various genres, offering valuable guidance to readers in search of their next great read. With a finger always on the pulse of the latest literary releases, Paula Davis is a trusted voice and a go-to source for book recommendations and reviews.

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