The Snowman is Jo Nesbo’s 5th in his series of English-language Harry Hole novels, and therefore the 7th in his native Norwegian-language series of same. Before reading this, I happened to read a review posted on Amazon of The Leopard, which is the 6th in the English-language series of Harry Hole novels, and in which the reviewer gave away the end of this novel! Infuriating is one word I can think of to describe my feelings regarding this. Anyhow, I won’t be making the same mistake here, and ruining your enjoyment of this or any other Harry Hole novels, within this book summary – so feel free to safely read on!
The Snowman of the title refers to a Norwegian serial killer who preys on women, and whose trigger for killing is related to snowfall (not giving away too much!). Harry himself is unsurprisingly still battling the demons of drink and his past, running foul of the police department as a whole, and it is against this backdrop that the malevolent and murderous world of the Snowman comes to light. Perhaps unlike previous novels, and with the exception of a certain detective who shall not be named and who was more of a regular character than killer suspect in previous novels, the serial killer in question here pays particular attention to Harry, shall we say, which makes it all more personal and ominous I feel – even though Harry himself is seemingly oblivious to this.
As usual, this book provides characters you will truly believe in, masterful manipulations of plot, and plenty of suspenseful moments that will have you racing through the pages to reach the climax of the various scenes. Unless you like to climax slowly, in which case you may pause during the most suspenseful moments, and reflect on how fast your heart is beating, and really savour the tension as you slowly turn the pages. That said, I was a little disappointed with one particular aspect of this book – Jo previously, when about to reveal the villain’s identity, runs through the current location and actions of all suspects, and thereby they are revealed naturally as it were, by virtue of who is doing what at a crucial moment. In this case, I guessed the killer’s identity very early, and although I wavered slightly a few times in that belief, it was no surprise at all really when the identity was suddenly, and disappointingly without fanfare, revealed.
I am deliberately leaving out a lot of detail from this review, as to be honest, even mentioning some characters may spoil the implications of plot twists for you. Suffice it to say, this is a true “cracker” (or “corker” if you are English) of a read – my only gripe is that the ending was slightly too theatrical and maybe far-fetched, for me to believe in.
Fans of Harry Hole will need no persuasion in reading this, that’s for sure. If you are new to Harry’s world, I strongly recommend you DO NOT READ THIS. That is, of course, until you have read the previous books in the series first!! Do yourself a real favour and start with The Redbreast – it is an incredible piece of work, with one of the best, if not the best twists you have ever read in a novel. It also is the first in the English series of Harry Hole novels, and introduces most of the many main characters that inhabit Harry’s world, and Jo’s subsequent novels. So yes – start with The Redbreast, and work your way up – you won’t regret it.
For reference, the Harry Hole series in order is as follows:
There are also two novels that have been not been translated to English yet, and which constitute the first two parts of the series. In order, these are The Batman, and The Cockroaches.