Skip to main content

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø


The Snowman
In order to isolate what was possible, you had to eliminate everything that was impossible.

Holy crap! What took me so long to read a Nesbø book? Oh yeah, I thought the suspense was going to be the everyday run-of-the-mill type which ends up either being so far-fetched that the mystery focuses on Alan, Becky, and Charlie, and then ends saying that Zooey, the cleaner in Chapter 1 was the murderer. Or, it would be so obvious from page 1 who the bad guy was. Or, it would be the mix of both - the author would play hard at making it look like Alan was the bad guy, so hard that it would be obvious Alan was not the bad guy.

So although I have been hearing plenty of praise about Jo Nesbø's books, I didn't really TBR any of them until I had to pick an audiobook for a road trip. Into my car stereo, I popped The Snowman and waited until the moment I was going to feel justified. Nada. Never happened. Nesbø had me right from the page one. It was really hard to stop the audio each time I reached my destination.

The Snowman starts off with a suspenseful premise. A boy and his mother stop at a house on their way back to home. The first snow of the season has fallen. The woman tells her son to wait in the car for a few minutes. The few minutes turn into more than an hour as the woman is actually meeting her secret lover. At one point, she and her lover see a snowman glaring into their bedroom. When she finally gets back to the car, clandestine actions over, she finds that her son has been sitting in a freezing car. They drive off, but her son is suddenly very worried. He thinks that they are going to die.

I have read that Nesbø's books usually start with a prologue that he eventually ties in with the plot, towards the ending. So I was curious to see what role this incident had to play. When it finally came, it was just jaw-dropping. How the same scene can be played from multiple perspectives! I'm a big fan of writers who can play that trick well - everyone doesn't see the same thing when they look at a picture. It is amazing to see how different people can project their bias and baggage onto a picture and form opposite conclusions.

In The Snowman, women have been getting murdered or going missing and a snowman seems to always be at the scene. The killer thus gets the moniker of The Snowman. To the reader, there is a hint of a connection between these women, but to Harry Hole, the detective, there is none. The eventual conclusion isn't arrived at easily. There are a lot of things to figure out before getting there, and Nesbø takes his time, planting clues, snatching them away, and turning the picture around. By the end of the second disc, I thought I had the scenario fully figured out, but that scenario morphed a lot before the killer was revealed (who wasn't anyone I guessed but not so much of a non-entity that it was improbable).

The detective, Harry Hole, is clearly brilliant. But he is missing his ex-girlfriend, Rakel, who had just started seeing a doctor, and her son, with whom he shares an excellent relationship. That doesn't stop them from having an affair, though. The murdered victims described in the book have obviously been through a very torturous experience, but what is a crime thriller without some gory scenes. Harry Hole works on the murder cases with another inspector, Katrine Bratt, who seems to be a mystery - her actions and her private life do not seem to go in sync, but it takes a while before any of it comes to light. There are several other minor characters in the book whose presence I enjoyed and a few that gave me the creeps.

This is apparently the seventh book in the Harry Hole series, but I had no trouble reading it nor did I feel as if I missed any references. Knowing that there are 10 books in this series so far thrills me to bits, more so because I don't really like reading thriller novels and when I find one that I enjoyed, it's great to anticipate more such books. I listened to this audiobook and the narrator, Robin Sachs, does a fabulous job of narrating the story. He places all the right pauses, inflections, and stresses that it sounded very genuine to me.


I borrowed this audiobook from the good old library.
Armchair reading in Norway

Comments

bermudaonion(Kathy) said…
I've got 2 or 3 of his books and just haven't made the time to read any of them yet. I have a feeling I'll be wondering why I waited so long when I do read one.
rhapsodyinbooks said…
This one was probably my least favorite in terms of how much violence there was! But it was still quite the fun roller coaster ride, and they keep getting better after this one! And yes, I love love love how he ties in the beginning with the end!
Ti Reed said…
Holy Crap, is the only way to start a review for this one! I have ready nearly all of the books in the series now, I think I am missing one, but this was by far my fave and the one they made a movie of, although I don't think the movie has come out yet.
Tea Time with Marce said…
Hey Aths, what an amazing review. I haven't read a review of this one in years, it has been on my Wishlist a long time. I love thrillers but wasn't sure if this will be similar writing to the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, couldn't complete that but I'm intrigued again.
Sam_TinyLibrary said…
I'm not into mysteries/thrillers myself, but I've heard good things about this author. Great review!
Athira / Aths said…
Oh, you are in for a treat then! This one was so absorbing, I cannot wait to read more.
Athira / Aths said…
If this was your least favorite, I cannot wait to read the others. I have heard one other person say the same. I will have to look for the remaining books!
Athira / Aths said…
I thought they dropped the movie of this one. Martin Scorsese was supposed to make it.


I am so looking forward to reading the rest of his books!
Athira / Aths said…
I haven't read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo either, and may never pick it up. This one was very intriguing - I'm sure you will love it.
Ti Reed said…
You're right. I just checked and it said that Marty Scorsese bailed on it. The article said that Universal is still looking for a director.
Diane D said…
Glad to hear that the order is not important. I do have this one.(Don't you love the library? - Get all my audios from there)
Gwen said…
I am so glad that you liked it! I got hooked. The first of his books that I read was the Devil's Star and have been greedily reading them as they become available to the US (in ebook format) ever since. And you are right, with any of them, it isn't vital that you start at number one of the series to "get it".

They are finally starting to release the earlier books in the series, but I have to give you a word of caution.....(insert instrumental dum, dum, dummmmmmm here) I read The Bat earlier this year (the first in the series) and if that had been my first exposure to Harry Hole, I don't think that I would have been so in love with the character or the series. (Which makes me wonder if that was why they have released them to the US all out of order like they have)

I have not read Cockroaches yet (#2) so maybe it was fluke that I didn't really enjoy The Bat.
Helen Murdoch said…
Okay, you convinced me. This book has been sitting on my shelf for at least a year so I will read it next
niranjana said…
I've seen this everywhere and never quite convinced myself myself to pick it up. So maybe i'll give it a go now!
Nishita said…
This is really very good, isn't it. I loved the concept of The Snowman. I also read an earlier book in the series called The Bat. You can skip that one, it's not bad but I get the feeling the later books are better.
Moon said…
Just read The Leopard...the Snowman's referred many times in it...I'll give it 3 and a half stars..now wanna find The Snowman :)

Popular posts from this blog

Hell-Heaven by Jhumpa Lahiri (Short Fiction Review)

I first read Jhumpa Lahiri years ago, when her Interpreter of Maladies was making a huge buzz. At the time, I didn't catch any of the buzz, but for some reason, when I saw the book on the shelf at the store I was browsing in, I felt it just might be a decent read. Funnily, I read the entire short story collection without complaining about it, but for some reason, I cannot read any collection anymore without agonizing over its disjoint nature.

I did enjoy Interpreter of Maladies, but I did get bothered by the thread of loneliness and infidelity and distrust that laced through the stories. For that reason, I have been reluctant to read Unaccustomed Earth. However, when I came across Hell-Heaven at the NewYorker - a free short story from her book, I decided to go ahead and read it. I can't resist the pull of stories set in India or featuring Indian characters, and it is that same aspect that hooked me throughout this story.


In Hell-Heaven, the narrator contemplates the relations…

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Maybe that’s what religion is, hurling yourself off a cliff and trusting that something bigger will take care of you and carry you to the right place.
Bernadette Fox has a reputation. While her husband and her daughter Bee love her, there's barely anyone else who share the sentiment. Her neighbor Audrey loves to gossip mean things about her with her close friend, Soo-Lin. The other parents of kids at Bee's school look down on Bernadette because she doesn't involve herself in school affairs. Bernadette herself goes out of her way to avoid company.

And then one day, Bee comes home with an excellent report card and asks for her reward - a family trip to Antarctica. The very plan throws Bernadette into a panic but she has no other option. She hires a virtual assistant, based out of India to take care of all her demands, including getting prescriptions at her local pharmacy, doing her online shopping and taking care of some of the logistics of her trip. (It is ridiculous! Bern…

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (Short Fiction review)

With the Hunger Games hype that engulfed us last week, it was hard to avoid all the discussion of similar works that existed. Of the many titles that I came across, two stood out particularly - a short story called The Lottery and a Japanese novel (and movie) called Battle Royale (which I'm reading right now and just cannot put down). The novel will be fodder for another post, so for now, I just want to rave about the awesomeness that was The Lottery.

In contemporary America, villagers across the country are gathering on the 27th of June (and some a day earlier) for an annual event called the Lottery. Children, women, men, all come to the main square of their village or town, where the lottery master keeps a black box full of paper chips. One of these chips is marked has a special mark on it to identify the winner (the person who draws that chip). Not everyone draws however, but only the head of the family. Husbands are viewed as the head of their families/households, and if the …