I absolutely love Jo Nesbo. I desert-island love him. If I could only read one thriller writer for the rest of my earthly days, I'd choose him in a heartbeat and never look back. We're exclusive.
And I think I enjoyed this book more than I might have, just because his reputation precedes him. He doesn't need to put on a slinky dress, turn down the lights, and woo me. I'm already sold.
However, if you've never dipped your toe in the Jo Nesbo Norwegian crime thriller pool, you'd probably be better served to start with one of his other books.
For one thing, Blood on Snow is much shorter than most of his books, and while the brevity and simple language fit the narrator perfectly, it might be a little difficult to get into a rhythm if you're not already a fan. Olav is plenty interesting—he's a professional contract killer, although he'd never use those terms. He calls himself a “fixer.” He's not the sharpest guy, and he's proven ill-suited for other criminal endeavors, but he's good at taking people out and walking away without getting caught. He likes to keep things uncomplicated. However, Olav's life gets very complicated very quickly when his boss asks him to “fix” his wife. Olav doesn't want the job, but he already knows too much to back out. He's going to have to make a tough decision, and tough decisions aren't really his cup of tea.
So yes, Olav is a compelling character, in that he's the exact opposite of the suave man of danger you'd expect to see in the role of contract killer. However, I didn't fall for him the way I did for Nesbo's more famous leading man, Harry Hole (I'm told it's pronounced less salaciously in Norwegian). Olav isn't the kind of character you could build a series around. He's kind of a one-note guy. Harry, on the other hand, keeps coming back in book after book, each time more grizzled, scarred, and strung out than the last (and yet somehow, more badass and endearing as well).
Blood on Snow is a great book for established Nesbo fans, but if you've never read him before, I'd recommend starting with one of the Harry Hole books. I've long been partial to The Snowman because it was my first, and it practically blew the top of my head off, but the entire series has now been translated into English, so you can start anywhere you like.
Just don't try to horn in on my desert island. There's only room for two.