"SUSHI had become the pizza of the uppermiddle class, the policeman Simon Kefas as he attempts to eat a tiny jellyfish in Norway's bestselling latest thriller titled The Son. The ads say that author Jo Nesbo is "the reigning king of Scandinavian crime fiction." And the Times pronounced him "the crime author of the moment."
I can't pretend I've read many of Nesbo's works but I was scared witless by The Snowman and The Leopard and I'm now plowing through The Son. I say this like it's hard because this one -- about revenge -- is not something you can read, put down and pick up a few minutes later.
There seem to be hundreds of characters and I have had to start The Son all over again at least six times, trying to keep the drug and highfinance criminals and the social workers and the about to retire good and bad cops and detectives straight.
I am grateful to Knopf for their civilized advertisements meant to help you keep track. In the first place, author Jo Nesbo, who looks like a tough guy himself, wrote the well-known successful thrillers designated "the Inspector Harry Hole" series. Add to that the chills and unnervingly scary series that includes The Bat...Police and The Son. These books are unswervingly smart, thoughout, plotted and the detective good guys give the reader quite a look at the social situation in Scandinavia. You get the full blast of Nesbo's contempt for the welfare state, controlled drugs, big business and the downtrodden -- crime fighters of all stripes.
Here's a bit of Nesbo philosophy from the mouth of a drug-riddled character you can't help but like: "All sons believe that one day they'll turn into their father...that's why they are so disillusioned when their father's weaknesses are revealed; they see their own failings, their own future defeats waiting for them. And sometimes the shock is so devastating that it makes them give up before they've even started."
But usually Nesbo isn't so philosophical. He's just waiting to see if you are alone reading and whether he can scare the wits out of you with extraordinary sadism, mysticism, violence and he invariably throws in his lot with tough guys (again) loving good caring women.
Jo Nesbo ranges all over the spectrum. He is described in real life as a musician, songwriter, and economist. He wrote a series of children's books and has won many awards, including the Glass Key for best Nordic crime novel.
If you are tired of U.S.English thrillers that begin to sound alike, start reading Jo Nesbo. Although you'll have to employ and use all your wits and whomp up those nerves of steel you've forgotten you have; the ones where you employ your mind to the challenge.
Nesbo is too smart to go off the tracks with complicated libel or Nazi international business plotting that afflicts The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series. And parts of those books were quite good, sadistic and grim, with a great female lead character. But Nesbo is better than that! Give him a try when you aren't alone at home!
• AGAIN, I want to thank all of you who wrote me your sympathy and stories about the giant Elaine Stritch. Thank you for your comments on Facebook, on the New York Social Diary with photos, and on Huffpo and other of my outlets.
I appreciate it so much although I may have missed thanking you directly. So many of your notes have been full of affection, and some hilarious memories of Elaine. Someone wrote me that it was not for Elaine to say she didn't want a memorial and it also wasn't up to me! They are correct. So whatever will be, will be.
Maybe when I'm a little less involved with the moment, I will look through my memoir and other files and write more about Elaine Stritch.
Just for now -- here are two of Elaine's very favorite photos of herself. Note the toe!
• ENDQUOTE: I found this touching, and so indicative how influential, beloved and eclectic Elaine was. Cate Blanchette was recently asked by Marie Claire magazine her ideal guest list for a dinner party? She said: "Amy Poehler, Julian Schnabel, Steven Soderbergh, Tim Flannery, Hillary Clinton, Christine Largarde, and Elaine Stritch."