Cover Image: The Kingdom

The Kingdom

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From my blog: Always With a Book

Jo Nesbo is still a relatively newish author to me, as I have only read a few of his books so far. But of what I have read, I have really liked and I know he is one of those authors that I will continue to read.

This latest book is a stand-alone and I really enjoyed it. I find that his books, whether they are stand-alones or part of his Harry Hole series, are ones that are not meant to be rushed through, but rather to be read a little slower. This one in particular is so layered and there are so many secrets that are just waiting to be peeled back that you really need the time to digest what you are reading and I found myself flipping back to earlier sections just to remind myself of what had already been revealed.

This story is dark and it is disturbing at times and it is certainly not for the faint of heart. While it starts off a little slow, the pace definitely picks up and it becomes a book that you just cannot walk away from. There are more than a few secrets that are eventually exposed and play a central part to this book. As they come to light, you first think one way about them and then come to find out it was completely another way...that is what I love about Jo Nesbo's writing. It's so clever and cunning. 

This book, while still a crime novel, also delves into how far we will go for family and those we love. This dark family saga has psychological undertones that make for such a riveting, gripping read and the twists and turns really keep you on edge. Jo Nesbo really proves he is a master at his craft and I look forward to reading more from this uber-talented author.
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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.
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Jo Nesbo has written a terrific stand alone thriller. The brothers are very well written main characters and keep you guessing and intrigued. Wonderful book and can’t wait for another
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I don't even have the words to explain how amazing this book is.  After reading several disappointing books in a row, I was blown away by this book.  It was not over the top when other authors might have made this seem like an outlandish tale.  Everything was expressed in a matter of fact manner.  Jo Nesbo really gets into his characters' heads; I felt as though I was reading this like Roy would have written it.  I wanted to see how it ended, but I wanted to prolong finishing it.
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Jo Nesbo; translated by Robert Ferguson
Knopf Books
ISBN-13: 978-0525655411

THE KINGDOM is a somewhat different book for Jo Nesbo. It takes place outside of his well-known Harry Hole series and is much more of a slow-boil work than any of the installments in that canon. Those who have followed Nesbo from the beginning or arrive as latecomers to his work will find much to love here, however. 

THE KINGDOM is at its heart the story of two brothers. Roy and Carl Opgard grew up in on a non-working family farm on a mountaintop just above Os, a tiny town in Norway. Os is one of those places where everyone knows everyone else and most of their business as well. Roy, the elder of the two and the narrator of the piece, has lived in the same place all of his life, tending the farm which he and Carl inherited and operating a gas station which somehow manages to show a profit despite being off of the beaten path. Carl, the younger brother, put his hometown in the rearview mirror as soon as he was able, attending college in Minnesota and eventually settling in Canada. He creates quite a stir when, without a reason that is immediately apparent,  suddenly returns to Os after fifteen years with his wife Shannon. Carl’s return causes a stir in the town, particularly with two ghosts of his Christmas past. One is Grete Smitt, who wanted her long-ago one night stand with Carl to be something more. The other is Mari Aas, who was Carl’s steady girlfriend until she was not. That aside, Carl’s reason for returning home becomes clear rather quickly. He has an idea for developing the family farm into a large hotel resort and spa. Roy thinks that the artistic rendition of the project looks like an igloo on the moon, but he reluctantly finds himself --- as does most of Os --- sucked into the gravity of Carl’s incessant enthusiasm.  Actually, the reader is tugged in as well, with no hope of escaping THE KINGDOM before its ending. One reason for this is a mystery that concerns the apparent accidental deaths of Carl’s and Roy’s parents and which spills out across the story in drips and drops, increasing the tension for the brothers and particularly for the reader. Another reason is Kurt Olsen, the local sheriff, whose father --- the former sheriff --- disappeared years before. Olsen the younger seems determined to fully investigate the deaths of the Opgard parents and is even more inclined since Carl has returned. Roy suspects that he is even more obsessed with resolving the disappearance of his father, an occurrence which also seems to involve the Opgard brothers as well. Roy, meanwhile, is drawn toward Shannon in spite of himself, a state of affairs that she seems to cultivate. THE KINGDOM intermittently bounces back and forth between the past and present, so that while the plot that runs through the book is deceptively straightforward every page or two of THE KINGDOM seems to contain a small revelation or surprise which intersects with others. This creates a tangle of intricate branches that cause the players --- particularly the brothers Opgard --- to be revealed as much more complicated than they would appear to be. Just about every single person one meets in THE KINGDOM is guilty of something. One doesn’t want to become too attached to any particular character, for fear of disappointment.  

.I thought that I had the ending to THE KINGDOM figured out six or seven ways and was wrong about at least eight of them. Whatever disappointment I initially experienced upon learning that THE KINGDOM was not a Harry Hole novel evaporated within the first few pages and never reappeared. No one who reads THE KINGDOM will ever forget it or its author, who deserves a place at the summit of the must-read list of anyone who enjoys dark quality literature. I would also be remiss if I did not offer a tip of the fedora to Robert Ferguson for his fine and nuanced translation, which picks up on Nesbo’s wondrous turns of phrase and gifts them to his English-readers. Strongly recommended.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
© Copyright 2020, The Book Report, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Carl and Roy Opgard grew up on a mountain farm in a small Norwegian town.  Carl left as soon as he could while Roy worked in the family auto repair business.  After a 15 year absence, Carl returns, with new wife Shannon and big plans for the small town where he grew up.  Carl’s plan is to build a hotel and spa on the property that will reverse the declining fortunes of the town.  There are plenty of obstacles to realizing his big plans, not the least of which are some hostile residents who want to uncover the past - tensions, trysts, and some unexplained deaths.  The two brothers couldn’t be more different - Roy is prone to using his fists first while Carl uses his personality to succeed.  But they are older now, but how much have they changed.  And the complications just keep on coming.  Who is going to be loyal to whom?  Who is going to survive?  I have been a big fan of Nesbo having read most of the books in his Harry Hole series, but I really struggled with this book.  Well developed characters but the plot was very slow developing, and the switching back and forth in time often left me wondering what was going on.  My thanks to the Alfred A. Knopf division of Penguin Random House and NetGalley for allowing me to review the ARC of this novel.
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Two brothers, Roy and Carl, lived with their parents on the family farm in a small mountain top village in Norway. Roy, the older boy tried his best to protect his younger brother from danger inside and outside their home. When their parents died under mysterious circumstance, the boys were older teens and left in the care of their uncle. 
Then Carl got a scholarship to college in the US and left Roy and the village behind. Years later Carl returned to the village with his architect wife in tow. He plans to build a resort on top of the mountain. Carl had ways been popular with the townspeople  and was able to persuade many of them to invest in the venture.
As the story unwinds dark secrets of the village are revealed. There are several mysterious deaths of people close to the brothers. The story will keep the reader captivated until the very end as they try to figure out which characters will survive this tragedy.
I received this ARC from the publisher and Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
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Jo Nesbo is an excellent writer and I’ve enjoyed reading his past books ... BUT ... this newest book of his is long, dark, dreary and depressing, while still written extremely well, the content was just a bit hard to take.  Roy and Carl are brothers in Norway where they have inherited the family farm.  Roy works at a service station in the small village of Os while Carl has gone off to school in America and to later find his fortune.  When the local wonder-boy comes home with his wife, Shannon, things will never again be the same in Os.  They set out to save the village and build a spa hotel with all of the villagers as investors.  Back story is interspersed with present and it’s not a pretty picture.  With a cast of unpleasant characters and violent crimes, this book was not one I feel comfortable recommending.  With abuse at its core, we see the lasting effects on both brothers as things start to unravel around them and spiral out of control.
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This is definitely a different kind of story from Jo Nesbo than his fans are used to.  A dark story that moves from one brother's actions to the other brother's efforts time and again to keep his little brother out of trouble.    

Two brothers growing up in a remote area on a farm their father named the Kingdom will find themselves bound together by their sameness and their differences.  The elder brother, Roy, places family bonds before all else.  The younger brother, Carl, not so much.  Carl learns that he can manipulate Roy by tugging the bond, allowing Roy to clean up his mistakes and keep him out of trouble....for awhile.  As Carl's crimes escalate, the tension between the two will build until there is no other way out......and then what?  You will just have to read the book and find out.
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The Kingdom is the new stand-alone novel from Jo Nesbo.

"Roy and Carl grow up on a mountain farm near a small village. They are orphaned as young boys and spend time with an uncle, but really raise themselves back on the farm. Carl moves abroad for school but comes back with his new wife to involve Roy in his grand plans for a mountain-top hotel and spa. Roy has never left the small town but has always taken care of his little brother. He has always done what needs to be done. And now there's definitely some things that need doing..."

There's a different morality at play here with Carl and Roy. Nesbo gives the reader the full story just a little at a time. Carl was molested, but who did it? Exactly how far will Roy go to protect his brother - his family? There's a darkness in both brothers - because they will do things that are definitely illegal and immoral - all in the name of "Do what needs to be done"

Book has a bit of a slow start but gathers steam. Nesbo will make you sympathetic to Roy wanting him to find some happiness apart from his melancholy. The ending surprised me a bit but works here. Feels like there are still some questions left but there's enough to make this a satisfying finish.

Excellent read from Nesbo.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Knopf for an ARC in exchange for an honest review of the book.

A second thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC! Nesbo is one of my favorite writers and I was thrilled to get my hands on this. If you haven't yet read Nesbo, you should know that he is a unique and compelling author. His Harry Hole series features one of the best characters to come out of fiction in the two decades or so. If you like Nesbo and enjoy his writing style, chances are you will like this one, though it doesn't move quite like  Hole novel. 

The material here is dark--no surprise with a Nesbo novel--and the narrative rather complicated. It feels a bit different from his other stand-alones and, instead, features a flawed, complex protagonist that is more similar in many ways to Nesbo's famous Harry Hole. The novel is long and, as others have noted, it takes a while to heat up. However, once you get to the halfway mark, it's hard to put down.

I felt like there were a few translation snafus, especially early on as I tried to meet the pace of the narrative, However, once you get going the minor issues become less noticeable. 

While this one, like others in this genre, is not for the faint of heart, I absolutely recommend it, especially for all the Nesbo fans out there.
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The dark of Norwegian winters fit the cases Nesbo’s Harry Hole solves.  His latest, The Kingdom, is right up there with the best of them. Pain and hurt seems to be a constant factor in this small Scandinavian town, in which the Kingdom is the rocky farmland brothers, Carl and Roy have inherited. When Carl returns from America, wealthy and with a exotic wife from Barbados, he plans on building a spa hotel. Nesbo uses the small-town pettiness, gossip, and politics to good use as Carl gets the citizens to invest in his scheme. Of course, there’s more going one like Carl’s ex-lovers jealousy. And its not just the ex-lovers, the men are jealous of Carl’s success. Narrated by Roy, the reader will be drawn into the complex story.
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A standalone Scandi thriller from accomplished author Jo Nesbø is normally something to be savoured. His earlier Headhunters is one of my all-time favourite crime novels, so I had high hopes for this new tale of Norwegian intrigue. And in many ways it’s every bit as carefully crafted as you’d expect – yet I struggled to get into the story and found myself mildly unfulfilled at its finale.
The first quarter is a definite slog. There’s a lot of back story to explain – the brothers with murky secrets in their past; the claustrophobic small-town community quietly seething with perceived slights, romantic rivalries and deep-seated suspicions – which makes it heavy going. With all that established, Nesbø then sneakily subverts our expectations with several splendid narrative zigzags which reinvigorated my interest. Just as you think the story is heading in a certain direction…
…it ploughs a very different furrow. There’s murder, incest, sibling rivalry, betrayal, long-lost love, blackmail and more in a meticulously constructed web of misdirection. The middle of this book is most definitely the best bit, where the pace picks up and we start to see exactly how ruthless each character can be.
At its core, this is a morality tale where an old misdeed cannot be undone – even if the original motivation was pure. The consequences of that act come back to haunt all the participants and a cascade of deadly dominos tumble down the decades. It’s one of those plots where you want to tell the protagonist that the only way out of a deep hole is to stop digging! Think Fargo, or the very excellent In Order Of Disappearance film. 
Yet for all its intricate cleverness, there’s something missing from The Kingdom. It has little of the wicked delight displayed in Nesbø’s earlier efforts, and I found it hard to engage with any of the central characters. It ends appropriately enough but with little flourish, not with a bang but a whimper. If this had been written by an indie author then I’d be generous and give a full four stars, but from such an established writer I thought it could’ve been a lot better...
This is most definitely Nordic noir, and it has that faintly depressing feel of a gloomy winter’s day. None of the crisp delight of crunching through bitter, bright hoarfrost, but a muddy trudge to nowhere special. If that was the experience the author intended to communicate then he definitely succeeded.
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I've read a number of Jo Nesbo's work and each has their own significant allure and appeal.
For me this one was no different but the execution is what troubled me as I found myself wondering alone in the windy path of these two brothers who were fighting separate battles.
Sure they both had a rock start and they both worked hard to achieve that dream of success, fame, fortune but in the end it's a women that caused some grief.
As they say neither is an angel here (Roy or Carl) but they are brothers and should at least have one another's back.
There's plenty of action, suspense, mystery and those every changing plots but there's also fires, deaths, and more than one questionable action(s).
With this noted that ending was based on some interpretation and left me pondering the entire situation from beginning to end as The Kingdom may have been more than just a plot of land, community appreciation, and love of family.
All in all it's worth a cozy blanket and a warm cup of cocoa near the fire.
Thanks to Jo Nesbo, the pub, NetGalley, and Amazon Kindle for this ARC in exchange for this honest review.
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Despite having (mostly) likable characters doing horrible things, the story kept me reading and hoping for the best. A dark excursion into what family means to some and what that family history has done to its members, this novel explores family and town relationships and long held secrets. At times hard to read, it is amazingly written as a bit different kind of mystery/crime novel.

Thanks to NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishers for the ARC to read and review.
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Yet another thrilling contribution from a master of the game. Full of surprise, tension, drama and even macabre humour. A thorough blockbuster!
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This is my second Jo Nesbo book to read.  I started with The Bat, which I loved.  The Kingdom was a little different from a Harry Hole book but a good read as well.  I thought this book started a little slow at first but then I was anxiously turning pages to find out what will happen next.  I loved the twists and turns this book takes.  Highly recommend this read!
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Thank you to NetGalley for my eARC for an honest review.  Jo Nesbo is one of my favourite authors and his Harry Hole series is wonderful.  That being said his stand alone novels including The Kingdom are classic nordic noir.  Darkly detailed, constantly building, twisting, his latest has become a new best.  The Kingdom details a family, the brothers, the land, the community, the building of a hotel, and what it will take for all to survive. 4.5 Stars!
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I love Jo Nesbo. I've read all of his Harry Hole and standalone books and loved them all. His novels are dark  and atmospheric. This book is no exception. It touches on a subject many readers may not be comfortable with, incest, but it is necessary to explain the actions of the characters. 

Roy has always loved and looked after younger brother Carl. His protectiveness often turns into violence. Raised atop a mountain in Norway that their father dubbed The Kingdom, Roy and Carl are often subjected to cruelties by their father and neglect from a mother who is devoted to her husband. When their parents suddenly die, Carl can't wait to escape Norway for school in the United States, while mechanically inclined Roy's only ambition in life is to own a service station. 

Fifteen years after he left, Carl, now an apparently successful developer, returns with an exotic wife and plans to turn the sleepy town at the foot of The Kingdom into a destination resort by building a lavish hotel at The Kingdom. His return triggers secrets from their past that both brothers would rather stayed buried. Deaths staged as accidents begin to pile up as Carl tries to make his dreams come true.

Nesbo does a slow reveal of the secrets the brothers possess and how they helped form the men they have become. Is Roy as unselfish and devoted to his brother as he appears? Is Carl still a victim relying on his brother to solve his problems?

This is an excellent study of family dynamics and how differently two brothers can turn out and yet still remain the same. The characters and their backstories are excellently drawn. My main problem with the book is how long Nesbo takes to unfold the story. The book drug in places and the reveals were too slow in coming.  This is a dark story, just the way I like them; I just wish the pacing had been better.

My thanks to Knopf and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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The first 30% is masterfully plotted. Nesbo's trademark acumen for pulling the reader deeply in, and at moments tweaking that pull with a secondary set of clues to a deeper crime. It slowed in the middle for me, but as with all Nesbo, I wanted to see the threads get tied together, so I finished. There's a line of globalization and real estate development to the novel that had really strong potential, yet I wanted more from the movements and the finance.
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