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The Snowman - Jo Nesbo

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7 Reviews

Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Jo Nesbo / Hardcover / 464 Pages / Book is published 2010-03-04 by Harvill Secker

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    7 Reviews
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      15.11.2013 17:30
      Very helpful



      Possibly one of the best crime novels ever

      The Norwegian Author Jo Nesbø has become a world known super star because of his thrilling and amazingly well written novels about Harry Hole, a character with deep emotional problems and struggling with his relationship not only to his on and off girlfriend Rakel, but also to alcohol. Hole is a brilliant investigator, solving cases his collegaues struggles to piece together, but his taste for beer and stronger drinks threaten to ruin not only his Ability to solve cases, but his relationship to friends and Family.

      Nesbø is a truly brilliant Author, and Reading The Snowman in Norwegian was an amazing experience I never Will forget. The translator has done a very good job in translating this novel into English, but the Norwegian original Will always be superior. In this novel, the killings of several characters are closer to Hole than ever, and the suspense and drama of the novel is quite unique. The plot is brilliantly constructed, and every character is interesting and full of depth. The reason why this novel is one of the best crime novels ever written, has a lot to do with the intensely amazing ending of the book, and I Will of course not reveal this here... However, the Author has created a plot and way of writing that makes you want to read this story from beginning to end without putting it down, and I did!

      We meet an investigation team in Oslo, Hole the "leader" of this team, all though not the man with the most power. Harry and Rakel have split up, and Rakel is seeing a new man, much to Holes frustration.

      I cannot Write much more about the plot without revealing important information that one as a Reader simply has to experience by oneself, but I can asure you that this is a novel you wont regret having read, and no Wonder Martin Scorcese has been interested in making this novel into a major Blockbuster Movie.

      All in all this is a brilliant crime novel from one of the worlds leading Authors in this genre.


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      15.09.2013 23:55



      I love this book and cannot get enough of it everything about it is perfect. It is the perfect crime novel and written beautifully. It is definitely a must read however the price isn't perfect I got my copy for £1.29, if you can't wait buy it but if you can just wait for a better offer.


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      15.05.2012 17:48
      Very helpful



      A first class crime thriller by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo

      Scandinavian thrillers are all the rage at the moment, from Henning Mankell's Wallander and Stieg Larsen's Dragon Tattoo trilogy to the wonderful 'The Killing' and 'The Bridge' on TV, 'Scandinavian Noire' seems to have caught the imagination of crime fiction fans throughout the world. Having read and watched what Sweden and Denmark had to offer it was now time to give Norway a go and with this in mind I picked up 'The Snowman' by Jo Nesbo.

      Somewhat jaded and damaged veteran detective Harry Hole of the Oslo police specialises in serial killers but as people keep telling him there aren't any serial killers in Norway. Harry made his reputation hunting down a serial killer in Australia many years previously and because of this achieved a great deal of unwanted notoriety and celebrity. Unfortunately personal problems including an excessive drinking habit served to hamper his career and his credibility amongst his peers so when a number of baffling murders occur in the Oslo area nobody believes Harry when he suspects a particularly nasty and incredibly clever serial killer is at large. Assisted only by a young rookie murder detective the beautiful but enigmatic Katrine Bratt, Harry begins to investigate the murders and tries to convince his bosses a serial killer is indeed responsible and that if nothing is done even more people will die. To complicate matters Harry's personal life is chaotic as usual with the arrival on the scenes of his former girlfriend Rakel providing more problems for our hard pressed detective to solve.

      As with all Scandinavian thrillers one of the main components of the story is the bleak landscape and weather. I suppose the wind, the cold, the rain and the snow play such an important part of Nordic life that all the authors from this part of the world have an aptitude for describing and including these aspects in the story. In this book even more so since the murders are intimately linked to the winter snow and the making of a series of grisly snowmen near the scene of each crime. The story seems to be played out in dimly lit interiors and cold, bleak exteriors often seeming to parallel the emotional state of the characters, many more often than not haunted by their own personal demons. In common with the other crime fiction I've read in this genre the killings are truly gruesome involving strangulation, amputation, dismemberments and torture described in graphic enough detail by Nesbo.

      This is not the first of Nesbo's books featuring Oslo police detective Harry Hole it is in fact the seventh in the series, the first 'The Bat' dealing with the case in Australia that makes Hole famous. Through the series Nesbo has developed Hole's character and has played with different facets of his psychological make-up. Perhaps bordering on a cliché Hole is the classic hard-boiled cynical but not unethical cop of many detective noir novels and films that we all know too well. His hard drinking over the years got the better of him and his work doesn't allow his personal life to achieve any stability or permanence in his relationships. Fans of Ian Rankin might see shades of Rebus in this character. Like Rankin Nesbo manages to create a deeply flawed yet likeable hero. What makes Nesbo's novel so good is not simply the inclusion of Harry Hole but all the array of peripheral characters that are also well rounded and believable. Once again although not all that original the central partnership of the cynical and world weary Hole with the enthusiastic and ambitious younger detective in the form of Katrine Blatt works well within the dynamics of the story. The shambling dishevelled Hole being balanced by his beautiful younger sharply dressed sidekick Katrine but we soon discover that Harry is not the only one with a darker side to his character.

      In essence 'The Snowman' is a superior police procedural with a very dark edge and plenty of unexpected twists, maybe a few too many. It is an extremely enjoyable read and even at 576 pages it is an effortless read. The plot can be a little complicated to follow switching as it does to different time periods as we gradually discover more about the killer and his motivations. Despite its complexity it never becomes unwieldy and I found it to be a real page turner. Apart from the main serial killer story Nesbo also explores other themes, relationships between fathers and their children and the unfairness of nature and genetic predetermination. The central character Harry Hole is a fascinating creation and I look forward to going back and reading some more from the series. The book seems to perfectly span the gap between intellectual literary fiction and the pulp crime fiction to produce a blend that will please both fans in both camps.

      As I don't speak Norwegian so I can't say much about the original writing style but I'm guessing that the version I've read by Don Bartlett is a very good translation since the story seems to flow and read so naturally without any hint that English was not the original language.

      All in all 'The Snowman' is a great crime thriller and Jo Nesbo deserves his place as one of the leading exponents of the Scandinavian crime thriller genre.

      'The Snowman' by Jo Nesbo can be bought in paperback from Amazon uk for £5.19 (free delivery) or as a kindle edition £3.59 at the time of writing this review.

      Highly recommended.

      ©Mauri 2012


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        13.12.2011 16:54
        1 Comment



        A great read! Perfect for thrill seekers!

        This is the first Jo Nesbo book I read and since then I have gone on to read the complete Harry Hole series. The snowman is a gripping story about a homocide policeman from Norway who is investigating a case of a murderer who kills innocent people and in some cases put parts of their bodies on the body of a snowman! It is quite grusome but very well written!

        The book starts quite slow and I wasn't entirely convinced at first. However, as I got into the book more I started to get more and more into the investigation that I had to find out who the murderer was!

        Like all of Jo Nesbos books he points the finger at many characters throughout the story making you believe they are behind the murder. The ending is striking as you find it is the characher that you are least suspicious of! The story is not for the faint hearted but a must read for the thrill seakers! Although this is not the first in the series Nesbo writes his books so that you could pick up at any stange and know what is going on and I have found this to be a great aspect of his books!

        The only other downfall to the book is the fact a lot of the names are Norwegian and so is some of the places he mentions and this can be confusing! I would recommend this too a friend as when you get into it you can't stop reading it!


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          04.02.2011 18:24



          Excellent read

          I came across this book in a very unexpected place. We were on holiday in Lanzarote and after reading the first chapter of the book I had packed, I realised I had already read it!!
          I was left bereft as there is nothing I love more than reading a good book lying on the beach on a hot sunny day!
          I looked around the local gift shops but the books were all either written in Spanish or of the Mills and Boon type, and I did not have enough time to learn Spanish and romance novels are not my thing.

          I had all but given up when we went for a meal in an Irish bar, only to discover that they had a book sharing corner! At first glance, I almost reconsidered getting a Spanish tutor, but when I read the back of the most tatty, dog eared book of them all I instantly saw how "The Snowman" had something special about it.

          The story was instantly gripping, and I was surprised at how the events of the first few pages were so powerful to remain in my mind while the rest of the story took hold.
          There was a good amount of character description to feel connected to them and to feel the adrenaline rush when they were being hunted down.
          The snowman theme that ran through it was original and fresh. I found myself speed reading to find out what happened next, and staying awake well into the early hours of the morning, despite knowing that if I finished it before the end of the holiday I was not going to find much else worth reading!
          The theories I formulated about who the murderer was and how he/she was going to get caught kept on changing, and I really enjoyed the journey this book took me on.

          Check this book out as long as you can handle a bit of gore!


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          12.12.2010 09:42
          Very helpful



          Superb and gripping story


          Anyone who knows me will know I like nothing better than a good Crime thriller to get my teeth into. A few months ago one of my friends lent me his Stieg Larsson novels, which I found really hard to get into and ultimately I gave up with it. So when I saw this novel and on the front cover the Independent described this writer as the next Stieg Larsson I was more than a little concerned that I would not like it either, but I thought I should at least try.

          ==About the author:==

          Jo Nesbo was born in Norway in 1959. He has thus far written seven novels, five of which are within the Harry Hole series of which 'The Snowman' is the latest. While the other two are under the Doctor Proctor's Fart Power series (sounds intriguing!). He plans to release an additional book for each of these series in 2011.He has been awarded the Glass Key Award for the first novel in the Harry Hole series for the best Nordic crime novel.

          ==Synopsis of the book:==

          It is mid winter in Oslo and the first snows are falling. A young boy wakes and is unable to find his mother in the house, so he wonders out and is alarmed to find her pink scarf tied round the snowman, but no sign of his mother. She is reported missing and Inspector Harry Hole and his team are called into to investigate.

          As the team start to find out more about the family, they start to see that over the past few years several married ladies with children have also disappeared. Then another mother goes missing and Harry finds her mutilated body he is convinced they are dealing with the first serial killer in Norway's history. And he is the only man with the knowledge and skills to deal with such a case having dealt with one in Australia previously.

          However Harry quickly realises they are dealing with an intelligent, articulate killer. One that will test all of Harry and his teams abilities. As they draw upon all the resources at their disposal to try and find connections between the missing and dead mothers in these families. He feels this in some way is personal as the killer is operating in his homeland and a few months before he received a letter addressed to him which now seems connected with the case.

          ==My thoughts on this thriller:==

          It's not often I am surprised and shocked but this crime thriller certainly did that to me. I had expected very little from it in truth especially as this writer has been compared with another Norwegian writer I could not relate to. But I have to say this is one of the best thrillers I have ever read. I found its so refreshingly different but thanks to excellent writing I found I could always follow it and enjoyed it the whole way through.

          I must admit I usually struggle with foreign authors. Maybe it's my lack of imagination or my lack of knowledge for other countries but I always find I do not enjoy the stories. So this story written by a Norwegian and translated into English I had grave reservations about. But I should have because the descriptions of both the scenes and the characters within it where excellent and I found it all very easy to relate to and understand.

          For me this was a very long and involved story at 550 pages being more use to 200-300 page sagas. Though I must admit it did not seem that long as the story was cleverly written and always full of suspense and adventure. I usually find authors give too many clues away too early in the story and from that you know who the guilty party is but in this story I did not have a clue. As a result I was able to appreciate and enjoy all the many and varied twists and turns the author employed that made sense when the truth finally did emerge.

          I think it is always a good test on the writer's ability to captivate a new reader to his or her work especially as in my case I plumbed straight for book five in the series. And to be honest I did not find a problem doing this, as for me this could quite easily be the first in the series, yes there was the odd mention to previous cases but I certainly didn't feel I had missed anything relevant to this story by doing this. I found the main characters and their unusual personalities well explained just as if it was the opening story.

          My first impressions of the book were all impressive. To start with I liked the title and I was curious what the Snowman would have to do with the story. I also liked the unusual presentation of the summary on the back of the book. It would have one critical line in large print then a few lesser details in normal print. This really focused my mind and with the content I was intrigued to start to try and read this book. Beneath this was a few compliments about this book in particular and one was from an author I like and really respect, so I knew I must give this book a go. And one last feature I thought was unique and an excellent idea was there was two pages of comments from people about the book taken from Amazon. I hope they may try Ciao next!!

          The book was written in five different parts which was sub divided into smaller chapters. I found I very quickly got into the story and I found the writers style very descriptive without being over flowerly so that I really had a feeling I was in Oslo shivering in the snow. The only thing I did slightly struggle with was some on the Norwegian names as some things just do not translate. Sometimes this would be annoying as a character would be brought in and I did not know if they were male or female just by their name, it was only when they were described I usually got it!!

          I found the story was full of suspense from start to finish, it was such a cleverly thought out story I was totally absorbed in it. With characters all that had mystery about them and their lives. And I found the investigating officer was always at least one step ahead of me in his thinking, so that I was always playing catch up but his logic and thinking was always explained so I was able to do this quite comfortably.

          For me there was just so much to enjoy in the story, the depth of the authors writing was very impressive and I really did not want to put this book down as I kept ridiculously thinking I would miss something or lose my chain of thought. What amazed me was an excellent story just seemed to get better and I did not have a clue how and why these murders where happening. It was in many ways an unsettling story showing the darker side of Police work, it always had the ability to shock and surprise me.

          The pace of the story was always fast, and despite the long story there was always something to ponder and think about and of course something happening. With a conclusion that was exciting, nerve jangling and open to several different outcomes. Indeed I was even a bit disappointment by it, not because it wasn't very good because it was but because I would have to read another book by which I didn't think could possibly compare with the quality of this one.

          The series main character is Harry Hole. I found him a wonderfully man, because he was so easy to relate to. He seemed to have so many vices that it was easy to respect all the problems as a result he had in his life. The author really understood him and explained both his actions and feelings really well so even as a reader I felt I knew this multi dimensional character really well.

          I thought the author had the balance right between Harry's home and work life. So that by understanding what was happening to him in his private life you could see how that had an effect on his work and visa versa. I found he was the sort of character that would inspired a variety of emotions in me such as frustration, respect, concern and admiration.

          The story had a variety of support characters that where all interesting and well thought out. With the author only sharing so much information with you about them so that there was always a real sense of mystery about them, that needed answering. Indeed I must admit I got carried away while reading the book and I started seeing mystery and answers within a few of these characters that did not exist, such was this books powerful effect on my brain.

          Having found this such a wonderful gripping read I really must look at the other books in this series and see how they compare. My initial thought is they can't be as good as this excellent crime thriller that seemed to have it all. Yes maybe it could have done with some subtle humour but that would have probably detracted from the quality of the story.


          I thought this was a first class piece of fiction. It was superbly written, rich in thought and with so much mystery involved in the story. With characters it is easy to like and understand I found I had read this long story in a comparatively short time and thoroughly enjoyed it.

          ==Other Information:==

          Pages: 576
          Price:£3.29 New at Amazon
          Publisher: Vintage
          ISBN-10: 0099520273
          ISBN-13: 978-0099520276
          Year Published: 2010
          Author's web site: www.jonesbo.com

          Thanks for reading my review.

          © CPT DANIELS December 2010.


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            03.12.2010 15:19
            Very helpful



            Nesbo's on my list...

            It is safe to say that the only reason I picked up this book is because it was on my like for like list - reviews saying that the author, Jo Nesbo, is the "next Stieg Larsson". I enjoyed all of the Millieum books from the late Larsson and obviously its sad and a tragedy that he is no longer with us and so the chance to try a new author whom some say could take his place was a definite pull for me.

            During the first snow in Oslow, a young boy wakes to find that his mother his missing. Upon looking outside, he discovers a single snowman with his mothers scarf wrapped around its neck. Soon, DI Harry Hole realises that this is not just a one off case; that many women have disappeared over the years; all wives and mothers. A further connection is established when Harry receives a mysterious note signed from "The Snowman" and Harry realises that all the women have disappeared at the sign of first snow. As if it couldn't get any worse: a gruesome discovery is soon made - the severed head of the latest missing woman....placed on top of a Snowman.

            ** So, does it live up to the Larsson comparisons? **

            Yes and No. There are certain aspects of this story that make it completely obvious why this connection has been made. Firstly, this book is set in Norway, and so the Scandanavian connection is clear between Nesbo and Larsson. Other obvious connections are the inigmatic main character of DI Harry Hole who has some similarities (and many differences!) to Mikael Blomqvis, the journalist
            -come-pretend-detective from the Millenium Series.

            Then there is Harry Holes new team member, Katrine Bratt, who at first introduction, appears to be nothing special but later bears some similarities to the very unique (up until this point?!) protagonist and main character in Larssons books, Lisbeth Salander.

            I have read some interesting things about publishers of crime novels from international authors, one being that usually publishers "cherrypick" which authors to translate and release to a UK market. It is obvious to me that the publishers are seeing pound signs when reading Jo Nesbos books - there are quite clearly enough similarities between the books for it to be a no brainer in terms of popularity - and their hunches were right - "The Snowman" has proven to be popular. Attaching the tag line "the next Stieg Larsson" has clearly done the trick! I won't be too sarcastic about it however, as I'm glad it has been released, I was very impressed.

            ** More about the characters **

            DI Harry Hole is a jaded inspector, seperated from his partner and her son and trying to pull through an alcohol addiction. At the point of metting Harry he is pushing himself to the limit and teetering on falling off the wagon so many times throughout the book I lose count (occassionally he does fall off spectacularly). It makes for interesting reading, especially as it is Harrys opinion the reader is relying on to guide them through the perils of finding a serial killer! Often infuriating, grumpy and annoying, he is no doubt a curiously fascinating, smart and ultimately ilkeable character. This is unsurprising, as although Jo Nesbo is relatively unknown in the UK, he is nonetheless well known in his own country and Harry Hill has starred heavily in his other books. I guess through practise and building on his character, Nesbo has Harry Hole down prefectly; skillfully creating the perfect main character to head up these books.

            Katrine Bratt, as I have mentioned already, appears to be nothing more than Holes sidekick at first. Within chapters of her first appearance, a grudging respect blossoms between Hole and Bratt and the chemistry between them is clear. There is no particular romance in this book but much is made of that there is some kind of sexual tension between them. Good because any kind of complicated romance would have taken away from the main story of the serial killer!
            There is much about Katrine that I wouldn't want to spoil but her similarities to Lisbeth Salander become more and more apparent as the book wears on. If there are follow up books featuring Harry Hole, I would be very interested to see how the story progresses.

            ** Storyline **

            This has got to be one of the creepiest crime thrillers I have read for quite some time. Nesbo does an excellent job of hooking the reader in from the very first chapter - a sex scene, a creepy snowman an a kid whispering "We are all going to die"...ok I admit it, I wasn't sure after that chapter where exactly the book was going to go, it didn't all add up and it was too bizarre for words but I had to admit, it had me intrigued and I wanted to know how it all fitted together.

            As it turns out, the story is pretty straightforward but still the snowman aspect is a great hook and the way in which it is played out is expertly done. I would imagine it is hard for crime thriller writers to keep the killer a secret all the way through the book without frustrating the reader through a lack of clues, but I think nesbo also makes a good job of this. It wasn't until literally the last couple of chapters before the person was revealed that everything clicked into place and even then I think that the last part was meant to be obvious to the reader. Some of the death scenes are pretty gruesome and they had me on the edge of my seat.

            Overall, this was a book that I looked forward to reading when I had a spare moment, I enjoyed the characters, and I enjoyed the anticipation of what might happen next. My only criticism would be that once again the foreign names could be a tad confusing - more than confusing in fact. I spent some time going back and forward - like I did with the Stieg larsson books - to work out who was who but that is no fault of the authors just one of those things that happens with unfamiliar-sounding names I guess!
            I would definitely recommend this book and I hope to read a few more of Nesbos books in the future.


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