The Snowman (Book) Review

In the spirit of Fall, colder evenings and crispy clean duvet covers, I added this crime thriller to my Autumn Reading List.

It’s recently been adapted for the big screen which could be interesting, though I’ll probably wait to stream it at home. There’s talk of it not really living up to the book – which is pretty good actually. It’s no Red Dragon, obviously but then what is?

The Snowman is Detective Harry Hole’s 7th outing but this is my first time meeting him. He is a damaged soul (but of course) haunted by a series of events that claimed the lives of several of his colleagues. He’s also just out of broken relationship that might not be as over as they think – though most of his woes are only touched upon briefly because our anti-hero has more on his mind, namely the uncovering and capture of Norway’s first serial killer.

The tale of The Snowman kicks off with the disappearance of a young mother. In her place is a small snowman constructed on the front lawn, her pink woolen scarf wrapped around its neck. Inside its belly is the missing woman’s mobile phone. This disappearance corresponds conveniently with a letter received by Harry Hole from a killer calling himself The Snowman – but where is the woman? And who is The not-that-terrifying-sounding Snowman?

What follows is a series of missing women, some of whom turn up dead and dismembered pretty quickly – at every crime scene Hole finds SM’s signature: a snowman. Hole entrusts his brilliant new colleague Katrine Bratt with the task of finding a connection between all the women and she does: all are mothers and have dealings with a very discreet clinic where all the kids are patients. Hmmm.

Luckily for Norway, Hole is a dog with a bone and will stop at nothing to catch The Snowman. Unfortunately, there are lots of suspects and subsequent accusations about who is responsible for the murders being thrown around, some hitting closer to home than others. Will Hole get his man? Or will the case kill him in the process?

I enjoyed this well enough. There’s a lot to like about it, even though by the climax I felt a little fatigued, there are three prime suspects who all turn out to be innocent. I had an inkling in the back of my mind of who it was but it feels like forever before we get there.

Hole is a weathered and fucked-up character with demons in his past. He is the best in the business, unorthodox in his approach, something of a loose cannon and because of all this he has lots in common with some of the best literary detectives.

The female characters are pretty liberal though they’re judged harshly for some of their behaviour through the eyes of The Snowman. Their fates are definitely of a misogynistic nature and that’s the point here. I’m not sure if Katrine Bratt goes on to appear in any of the later books but she’s a strong character despite the fact that an awful lot of effort goes into describing her looks. Rakel too is pretty fun, even if she can’t keep away from Hole for love nor money.

All in all, this is good gory fun and I might be tempted to pick up another Jo Nesbo in the future.

Book details:

The Snowman
Publisher: Vintage (6 Nov. 2014)
ISBN-10: 1784700924
ISBN-13: 978-1784700928
Bought paperback (new)

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