"Furthermore the LORD said to him, 'Now put your hand in your bosom.' And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow. And He said, 'Put your hand in your bosom again.' So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh." -- Exodus 4:6-7 (NKJV)
The best mystery novelists can take us into the depths of human depravity in ways that make them more accessible and understandable . . . which serves to make the experience all the more chilling. Jo Nesbo is a master in this aspect of the genre and Don Bartlett is an exceptionally talented translator who makes The Snowman seem like a novel originally written in English.
The Snowman is the fifth Harry Hole novel to be translated into English, and fans of the series are in for a treat. The book opens with one perspective on how a criminal mind was shaped . . . and then fills in the consequences through a series of crimes and the police investigations.
While the book primarily takes the form of a police procedural, there is enough threat, risk, and exposure to also enjoy the book as a thriller where no one is truly safe.
Ultimately, the book's finest quality is in its careful character developments that leave you with quite a complete sense of the book's major and many of the minor characters. The result is to bring the reader into the story in ways that make the action more gripping.
Unlike a lot of longer police procedurals, this one didn't drag. Mr. Nesbo has a great talent for keeping his story line spare. Even what appear at first to be red herrings serve deeper story needs.
If you haven't read the other Harry Hole books, I don't advise you to start with this one. There's some history involving a few of the characters that's best appreciated by having read the books in the order of their publications (The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil's Star, The Redeemer, and The Snowman).
If you have read the four earlier Harry Hole novels, but not this one, I recommend The Snowman as a great choice for your vacation reading this summer. You may sleep better, however, if you read it during the daytime.