Reason for Reading: Next published in the series (in English).
A woman disappears and a few months earlier Inspector Harry Hole had received a threatening note. He is convinced that their is a connection. Then a second woman disappears. Harry and his detectives soon discover a disturbing tale of women, married with children, who have gone missing without a trace over a chillingly large number of years. The clues will take him down so many false roads that his job is on the line not once, but twice.
This is a thriller that takes off on new twists with the speediness of a whip crack. What's up for one chapter is down the next with reveal after reveal sending the police on the chase of a clever, determined serial killer who is skillfully directing the police to play into the unsub's own mad theatre of his mind.
I've read three of the books in this series so far and this is the most excellent. The red herrings, the false roads which all do connect, in a way, just not the way the police want them to, are an amazing road to follow. Twist after turn will have you gasping as they go after who they think is the killer only to find they have suspicions of someone else ... more than once. I really can't convey how amazingly clever this plot was woven together, with a myriad of clues, characters and evidence Nesbo doesn't miss a step in seamlessly creating an airtight thriller.
Funny thing for me is that I guessed who the killer was as soon as the character was introduced, for no particular reason than I thought it would make perfect sense in the end. (Perhaps I read so many thrillers I'm beginning to think like a thriller writer, either that or a serial killer, AAH!). Anyway, it gave me a unique perspective reading this book as I watched my chosen killer and applied all evidence and clues to them and convinced myself I'd picked correctly not that far into the book; that I was actually rather stunned, even though I'd been right, when the narrator out-of-the-blue starts writing from the killer's point of view letting the reader know who is the killer.
An extremely intelligent, clever, roller-coaster of a thriller. Jo Nesbo is up there at the top with the best thriller writers of today.
"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.
on August 31, 2011
There's obviously a Nesbo craze on, given the other reviews. I don't see it. The Snowman is an okay story, even if the gruesome violence is overdone and there's rather too much personal stuff between Harry and Rakel. But the reader isn't part of the solving of the crimes; there's not enough to work with. Obviously the reader gets it all at the end without participation. In this way, the work is too passive so it's not really a mystery; it's a story, period. The goings-on between Hole and his boss and colleagues end up as the most interesting aspect of the narrative. My first and last Nesbo--but then I didn't take to Stieg Larson, either.
on May 7, 2014
In that book Harry's professional and personal relationships mingle and meet and you get to know better the different characters, which makes us closer to the protagonists and gives us the impression of being part of the team. I met Harry Hole again with pleasure. He's in a better state than in The Leopard (which was written after The Snowman), but as I haven't read them in the order... It's in this book that I knew the extent of the horror experienced by Harry and why he's hurting so much in the future. In any case, I enjoyed discovering more about Harry 's relationship with his colleagues who regularly mock his propensity to see a serial killer behind every dog run. I made acquaintance with Rakel - and discovered their history - and Oleg who worships Harry.
Here, no action at all costs, no chases in each chapter, but tension rises gradually. We have a sense of failure and a feeling of the horror to come. Harry must investigate the murders of the past in connection with the disappearances of the present time and it takes time. Time during which the danger increases and we feel that something bad is coming but the killer seems quite too smart for Harry and, indeed, he's on the verge of not succeeding. The atmosphere is cold as can be - probably because it's about the first snow (perhaps to read it in July would not have the same impact!) - and adds to the tension and anxiety. As to discover the culprit... beware the obvious!
Harry's struggle not to drink, his efforts and the anger he feels all the time are obviously recurring in the series, but this is what makes him an endearing character (yes, cliché die hard in thrillers!). However, even if you can read the books by itself because it does not interfere with the story, there are several references in the books to what happened before. It seems to me that it's best to read them in order, especially as Harry's state of mind is linked with what he has experienced and therefore what happened in the previous books.
In a nutshell
Second book I've read by Jo Nesbø and I'm sold! He has a style of his own, where the horror of the crimes, the anxiety associated with the investigation and the atmosphere will guarantee you cold chills! One thing is certain, you will not see snowmen in the same way... 4/5 for this volume .
(Originally posted at vanessa-s-bookshelves.blogspot.ca)
I have always liked the way Nesbo carefully builds a story to a critical point where all the cumulative detail suddenly makes sense. He seems to feed his readers just enough information to lead them to the next point in a protracted search for a cunning, ruthless, psychopathic killer who leaves snowmen behind at each crime scene. The thrill in reading a novel like "The Snowman" comes in following the hunt through a very involved labyrinth of circumstances, personalities and settings that takes us ever closer to an unknown quarry. This murder mystery is set in Oslo in the middle of winter. Women, especially mothers, are disappearing off the streets only to be found brutally murdered by what looks like a serial killer. The fear that pervades the city is very real. In the midst of this gathering gloom comes a glimmer of unlikely hope: a dispirited Inspector Hole has suddenly become, out of a sense of duty and compassion, a heroic member of the investigative team in spite of his own lagging fortunes. We get to follow him and his sidekick, Katrine, around as they follow clues, conduct interviews, and eliminate suspects in this bloody rampage. The breaks that come their way only serve to deepen the plot as they inch ever closer to apprehending a very sick person. It is looking more like the killer is so brazen as to be working in their very midst but, before we get to discover his or her identity, be prepared for a couple of unexpected, action-packed twists and turns. This is a novel that keeps one guessing as to who's who. I found this tale to be full of all kinds of fascinating detail from the medical, forensic, and psychological worlds that needs contending with before the killer is reeled in.
on September 24, 2011
This is the first and only book by author Nesbo I have read so far. The only other Scandinavian mystery writer I have read is Stirg Larsson, whose book totally sucked. So I borrowed this book from my local library with some reservations. Boy, Was I wrong about my doubts! This book turned out to be one hell of a thriller and a finely plotted detective story. Mystery and thrills abound in equal proportions with not too much distracting romance. The beginning was gripping and the story was taut all through to the end. Each page drew me to go on to the next page and I finished the book in two sittings. Obviously there were some characters with history to them, but I was able to pick up their threads fine. Some of the descriptions tend to be wordy and wooden, but I don't know if this is the author's fault or the translator's. Overall, it was a good read and I would definitely recommend it to detective story aficionados. Please note that I am a jaded mystery novel devotee who sorely misses the works of the Great Masters and cant bear the amateurish tripe published too often these days. As the days go by, I am getting better and better at identifying the killer partway through the story. The fact that I could not do so with this novel is itself enough to make it worthy of respect and points to the finely planned and intricate plotting by the author.
on May 17, 2010
The Harry Hole series presents the reader with somewhat of an anomaly. On the one hand, we are informed that Norway is virtually free from serial killers. On the other hand, Hole is reputed to be the only detective in the nation with experience in catching serial killers, having accomplished his experience in Australia and also attending an FBI course. And then, serial killers tend to appear in the Harry Hole novels, including this one.
The first of several missing persons is a married mother, and the only clue is a snowman outside her home. Shortly before her disappearance, Hole received a mysterious letter which, in retrospect, leads him to believe there was a link between it and the woman's vanishing. In reviewing unsolved cases, Harry and his team find an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over some years.
Once again, Jo Nesbo has written a taut thriller, one that is forceful and gripping and, this time, full of madness. His novels just keep on getting better and better. Fast-paced and staggering, always keeping the reader looking ahead to the next shift, keeping one off balance with wonder. Highly recommended.
on August 29, 2010
There is no finer Scandinavian writer of crime fiction (in translation, anyway) than the multi-talented Jo Nesbo -- even better than Mankell or Lackerg, the Harry Hole series is far, far superior to the lacklustre Stieg Larsson trilogy. Nesbo writes like an angel and plots like the devil. Harry Hole is a brilliant creation; there's no shortage of flawed detectives these days, but Hole is a rounded, fully realised character who constantly falls into trouble but never into cliche.
on April 15, 2012
I read one of Nesbo's other books and thought, "what a different angle" and when I saw The Snowman and the reference on the book stating that he is the next Larsson then I was curious. Different writers but possibly going to be the same hype. If you are interested in how the evil mind in people work, this is the reference book for you! Not only is there one evil soul but other troubled souls as well. Lots of turns and twists just when you think you figured it out. A great book to pick up for your therapist!
on April 28, 2011
I have become a hardcore Jo Nesbo fan. Just finished The Snowman and am in middle of Nemesis. Also read The Redbreast. All are superb. There is a good article on Jo Nesbo from The Globe and Mail and why he doesn't see Harry Hole coming to the screen just yet. This guy can do anything.....