THR's 5 Books of the Week: Jo Nesbo, Jim Henson and Derek Haas

A new Scandinavian thriller from master Jo Nesbo, a pulp novel from screenwriter Derek Haas, and the revival of Jim Henson's Storytellers headline the week in books.

A flurry of good thrillers lands in bookstores this week. The big book of the week is Jo Nesbo's The Leopard, the eighth Harry Hole novel from the Norwegian master. Nesbo writes dark, twisty thrillers-with-a-social message that are often compared to Stieg Larsson's Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, although many fans think his books are better.

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This week also sees new novels from accomplished from a trio of accomplished film and TV writers. First up is Derek Haas' Dark Men, the third book in his Silver Bear series about the assassin Columbus. It’s the perfect choice for fans of pulp fiction. (Pulp fans should also check out Haas’ site: popcornfiction.com). The team of Neal Baer (ER) and Jonathan Greene (Law & Order: SVU) co-wrote Kill Switch, a thriller about a forensic psychiatrist hunt for a serial killer.

Switching gears, fans of the 1980s cult TV hit Jim Henson’s Storyteller will be excited to see it revived as a graphic novel anthology series that sports big-name comic talent as contributors. The stories capture the vibe of the original series and the book is well positioned to capitalize on the wave of Henson nostalgia generated by the success of the Muppets movie. Finally, the non-fiction pick of the week is Sergeant Rex, the heartwarming tale of the bond between a soldier and his bomb-sniffing military dog. This moving story could be a surprise hit of the Christmas season.

Here are The Hollywood Reporter’s top picks of the week: 

The Leopard by Jo Nesbo with translation by Don Bartlett (Knopf , 528 pages, $26.95). Film rights to Working Title Films.

The newest novel in this popular Norwegian detective series picks up soon after the conclusion of last book’s snowman investigation. A traumatized Inspector Harry Hole is wandering Hong Kong addicted to opium. He returns to Oslo see his dying father and to investigate the murder of several girls at a hostel. This dark thriller reminds readers why Nesbo is often favorably compared to Sweden’s Stieg Larsson. Nesbo’s novels are a great find for fans of the The Millennium Trilogy looking to expand into other Scandinavian thrillers. Working Title Films is in the process of bringing the early Hole novels to the big screen.

Kill Switch by Neal Bear and Jonathan Greene (Kensington, 288 pages, $25.00).

This the debut novel from two Emmy-winning TV writers—Baer on ER and Greene on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The story centers on the hunt for a killer by a Claire Waters, a New York City forensic psychiatrist haunted by a horrible childhood incident and drawn to the most difficult cases—a bit like a doctor's version of Silence of the Lambs Clarice Starling. As she hunts the killer she has to confront her own past and the possibility that another killer is stalking her.

Dark Men: A Silver Bear Thriller by Derek Haas (Pegasus, 288 pages, $25.00).

The third Columbus novel from the 3:10 Yuma screenwriter Haas is a pulpy gem. In this story, the assassin Columbus has tried to escape trouble by retiring to a remote Italian village with his lover, the mysterious rare-book dealer Risina. But when a strange man starts following him and an old comrade is kidnapped, Columbus is plunged back into the game. Haas’ kinetic prose moves this fast-paced story right along and makes it the escapist fun to while away a holiday afternoon.

Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, Vol. 1 edited by Nate Cosby (Archaia, 120 pages, $19.95).

The beloved 80s live-action/puppet show has been revived as a graphic novel anthology series that is equal parts fun and fear. The Jim Henson Company recruited an all-star cast of comic greats to bring these fairy tales to life, including Roger Langridge, Marjorie Liu, and Jeff Parker. As a bonus, the last story, “The Witch Baby,” is based on an unproduced teleplay by the late writer/director Anthony Minghella (The English Patient).

 

Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog by Mike Dowling with Damien Lewis (Atria, 304 pages, $26).

This true story of a military dog and the soldier who bonds with him could be a surprise Christmas hit as the holiday crowd searches out an uplifting story. In 2004, Sergeant Mike Dowling and his military working dog Rex were part of the first K9 teams sent to the front lines since Vietnam. In the beginning Rex was terrified of the gunfire and explosions but slowly the dog conquered his fear with Dowling’s help and the marine and the German Shepherd developed a tight bond that saw them through considerable danger as they hunted out hidden improvised explosive devices.  This is a truly heartwarming and moving story. 

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