Nesbø was born in 1960 and grew up in Molde. He graduated from the Norwegian School of Economics with a degree in Economics and Business Administration.
Nesbø worked as a freelance journalist and a stockbroker before he began his writing career.
As of March 2014 more than 3 million copies of his novels have been sold in Norway, and his work has been translated into over 40 languages, selling 23 million copies. Nesbø is primarily known for his crime novels about Inspector Harry Hole, but he is also the main vocalist and songwriter for the Norwegian rock band Di Derre.