Review: The Snowman

The Snowman

The Snowman
Book #7 (Harry Hole Series)
By Jo Nesbø; Don Bartlett (Translator)
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307595867, 400pp, May 2011)

*No Spoilers*

The Short of It:

The Snowman is full of twists and turns. It’s the type of book that you cook with, sleep with and eat with. I could not turn the pages fast enough. It was that good.

The Rest of It:

A funny thing happened while reading this book. Jill and I were gushing over The Devil’s Star, which is also part of the Harry Hole series so when an opportunity came up for us to read The Snowman, we jumped at the chance. We jumped so fast that we didn’t realize that we missed the book in between (#6, The Redeemer). Jill informed me of this when I was about three chapters in, but you know what? It didn’t matter! Yes, there were some personal tidbits regarding Harry himself that would have been nice to know, but it didn’t affect the story at all. I  mean, I started the series with book #5 anyway so it really didn’t matter.

This book was fantastic! I am loving Scandinavian crime fiction and Nesbø is a master storyteller. There’s just something about the texture and mood of his writing that appeals to me. The story begins in Oslo with a young boy waking up to the first snow of the season. His mother is missing, and in her place is a snowman, wearing her scarf. As Harry is called in to investigate, another woman is reported missing and the pattern is repeated. Each time, the snowman becoming more gruesome than the last.

Harry is an interesting character and constantly evolving. His personal life is always stressed in some way and he’s always teetering on the edge of destruction. Sometimes he’s on the wagon (recovering alcoholic) and other times he caves to his weaknesses, but this is what I love about Harry. Professionally, there is never anyone else more suited to the job, yet you wonder if he will ever pull it together and as a reader, you cheer him on and hope for the best. I can’t think of any other time when I’ve cheered a detective on.

I got my coworker to read it and he’s come in here three times to tell me who the killer is, and each time he’s been wrong! Nesbø is so good at what he does.

If you’ve never read Scandinavian crime fiction, give this series a try. The only challenge is that some of the books are not currently available in the US. That’s why Jill and I had to read them out-of-order, but The Book Depository has a few of them (they ship for free) and you might be able to get some of them from other sources. I am hoping that once the entire series has been released someone will publish them as a complete set. It sounds like a hassle to seek these books out but you won’t be sorry if you do.

Jill is also reviewing it today, so stop by and see what she has to say about it!

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.

Shop Indie BookstoresNote:

Mr. Nesbø doesn’t know it but I am completely obsessed with him his writing. So much so, that I have a small poster of him hanging in my office. If you’d like to know more about Mr. Nesbø, visit his website.

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20 Responses

  1. [...] Be sure to read Ti’s review also, which is here. Many thanks to Knopf Publishers for the review copy of this [...]

  2. Just a minute! Jo Nesbo is MINE! You might as well give up, and take the poster down! :–)

  3. You and Jill have convinced me that I need to give Scandinavian crime fiction a try. Even though you say it’s OK to read them out of order, should I at least read Book #1 in the series first?

    • If you can get book #1 the, yes. Otherwise, just start with the first one you can get. Harry’s personal life and the details associated with it will be out of sync but the plot won’t be affected.

      Sent from my BlackBerry

  4. He is quite the dude, isn’t he? Well because of the evil twins (you and Jill) I already have The Devil’s Star and The Redbreast on my shelves and will be accompanying me to Poland (just in case my Kindle flakes out), that is if I don’t pick them up sooner. I’m sure I will be challenging you to an arm wrestling contest over Nesbo sooner than later.

  5. I don’t know why but the Scandinavian thing just hasn’t worked for me. I want to like them, I really do. I just can’t get into them Plus, I don’t think I could take any of you on for a copy of these. Who said reading wasn’t a full contact sport?

    • Well, I understand. That’s how I feel about American crime fiction. Oh, and you area wise woman for not taking us on. Me? I’m a softie but that Jill….watch out. LOL.

  6. I have an ARC of this from Amazon Vine so I really only glanced at your review as I can’t wait to experience this one myself. I loved Devil’s Star….

  7. It sounds like Nesbo is a master at this type of story. I’ve got to try one of his books soon.

  8. When I was in undergrad I had the chance to take a Scandinavian Crime Lit class and I totally blew it and took something else. I’m fascinated by ScanCriLit (as I’m deciding to abbreviate it), I think Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was somewhat of a joke (I liked it, but don’t respect it) but my mind is open. Nords, Danes, Swedes, Finns, give it to me!

    • I would have loved a class like that.

      You can love all the Danes, Swedes and Nords… except for Nesbo. He’s mine!

      Sent from my BlackBerry

  9. Jill read a series out of order!!? That must have been painful for her. I keep hearing about this Nesbo fellow. I think I need to seek these out. I think you can get copies of some via Kindle, right?

    And I love when a writer makes it so you can’t figure out the killer!!!

    • A few are available for Kindle, not all.

      I don’t even care. I am going to buy the next one I can get my hands on.
      Sent from my BlackBerry

  10. I am very excited about this author and this book as well as his others. I have been itching to read some very good crime fiction. I recently discovered Masterpice Mystery’s version of Henning Mankell’s books and detective Wallander so I was thinking about trying one of those books. But your gushing review of Jo Nesbo and The Snowman convinced me that, for now, I’ve found my crime fiction read!

    I think I’ll leave the obsessing to you and Jill, though :o)

  11. I have The Devil’s Star waiting for me because of both of you loving it so much. Bummed that the beginning of the series isn’t available in English because I get nervous about starting a series in the middle. You both, however, have assured us that it doesn’t matter with this series, so I’m taking the plunge. :) Really looking forward to reading him.. recommended him to my uncle as well (who loves these kinds of books).

  12. I so want to read this one. i’ve heard so much about this author.

  13. I just reviewed “The Snowman” for our book club in what was galley proof copy month. Many other reviews were short but well-done; others were perfunctory. My review of the Snowman was guided by a page of notes I prepared, stingy with plot details beyond setup (may every reader have surprises), enthusiastic about Harry Hole and also the Katrine Bratt character, and wildly complimentary about Nesbo’s virtues (how he slyly elicits a character’s feelings, handles multiple narratives, etc.)

    Guess I did too good a job, because at the end of the session, we were told we could keep the proof books, but a woman clamored to borrow mine and now I won’t have it for two months? (she said) while I read the Redbreast, I believe his first Oslo-based Harry Hole novel…

  14. [...] 21. The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer 22. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Water M. Miller 23. The Snowman by Joe Nesbø 24. Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd 25. Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon [...]

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