Next week, Jo Nesbo, one of the world’s leading crime writers, launches his new thriller in Harrogate. Here we examine his multi-million sales success.

SO WHAT’S the secret to becoming a global bestseller? There’s no getting away from the Stieg Larsson effect.

Jo Nesbo, crime writer, sometime rock star and former professional footballer, rode the Scandinavian crime wave, kicked off by The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo author. His first English translation was published in 2005, the year after Larsson died of a heart attack, aged 50.

Barry Forshaw, one of the UK’s leading experts on crime fiction and film, is the author of books including Nordic Noir and The Rough Guide to Crime Fiction. He has met with and written extensively about Nesbo, the writer who dominates the bestseller charts and is published in 40 countries.

In fact, Barry was the one who dubbed Nesbo “the Next Stieg Larsson”. As he explains: “In a newspaper review I’d written of one of Nesbo’s books, I made a remark along the lines of ‘If you’ve read everything by Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson, and are still hungry for Scandinavian crime fiction, you really should try Jo Nesbo.’

“And when the latter’s publishers rang up asking if they could tweak that quote, I readily agreed – and I can hardly complain that something of a creative ‘spin’ was put on the quote. Though I didn’t say Nesbo was the next Larsson – it’s actually true in one sense. The Norwegian writer, of course, writes in nothing like the style of Stieg Larsson… but in one incontrovertible area at least, Nesbo has inherited the Larsson crown: phenomenal, jaw-dropping sales.”

According to Nesbo’s UK publishers Harvill Secker, his appeal lies in his tightly plotted thrillers set in the atmospheric wintry Oslo. That, and the humanity of the troubled protagonist, the alcoholic detective Harry Hole.

His most famous creation, detective Harry Hole (pronounced Hoola) features in ten books and has more than 20 million sales. The film of the Nesbø thriller, Headhunters, won a Bafta, and The Snowman is being made into a movie.

Jo (pronounced Yoo in Norwegian) will visit the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate next Wednesday evening to discuss his new thriller, Blood On Snow, with broadcaster Mark Lawson on the eve of its publication. Nesbo took part in the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in 2008 and 2010, and his appearance as a special guest in 2012 became one of the largest events in the festival’s history.

Simon Theakston, executive director of T&R Theakston, and festival sponsor, said: “It’s an incredible coup that Jo Nesbo is coming to Harrogate on the eve of the publication of his much-anticipated new thriller.

“He is only doing a tiny handful of appearances in the UK, so it’s a great indication of the reputation we now have as the crime-writing capital of Europe.

“We’re also delighted to host our official launch party on the night to announce the full 2015 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival which is hosted at the Old Swan Hotel this July, a murderously good event considered to be the best of its kind in the world.”

Nesbo will be signing books after the event.

“Nesbo is established as one of the most trenchant and idiosyncratic writers of modern crime fiction. Inevitably, of course, it is his formidable narrative skills which have made him such a ringer-of-tills,” said Barry.

He believes that the genre’s ability to comment on society also grabs attention, as the international success of Scandinavian TV series including The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge demonstrate.

“By describing the sometimes seismic changes in Scandinavian society, Nesbo is perceived as throwing a spotlight on the dangerous, conflicting world in which we all live; and his books address unpalatable truths about aspects of society that are not being tackled in anything but crime fiction.”

Jo Nesbo in conversation with Mark Lawson, The Old Swan Hotel, Tickets £13

Box office: 01423 562 303. The full festival takes place from July 16 to July 19.