Newest Review: ... threaten to ruin not only his Ability to solve cases, but his relationship to friends and Family. NesbÝ is a truly brilliant Author, and... more
Appropriate book title considering the weather lately...
The Snowman - Jo Nesbo
Member Name: burtybookworm
The Snowman - Jo Nesbo
Advantages: loved Harry Hole, great story, creepy
Disadvantages: Norwegian names a bit confusing
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.
Summary: Nesbo's on my list...