Review: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.

The Snowman: Harry Hole 7 by Jo Nesbo

Opening sentence: “It was the day the snow came.”

Originally published in 2007, this is the film tie-in edition of The Snowman – the film is released on 13th October and stars Michael Fassbender in the lead role. Although the seventh book in the Harry Hole detective crime series (that currently has 11 books), it’s the first I’ve read by Jo Nesbo and it really does work as a stand-alone story.

When detective Harry Hole (the only police officer in Norway to ever successfully capture a serial killer) notices a pattern emerging among the murders of mothers across the Oslo area – that of a snowman being left at the scene of every crime as the killer’s calling card – he suspects he may have another serial killer on his hands. With his small, trusted team, including new addition Katrine Bratt, he takes on this intriguing case.

As we often see with a book series built on one character, the focus is very much on Harry Hole and, in many ways, he is your cliched detective. He has alcohol issues, a surly temperament, has let his obsessive approach to his job ruin relationships and very much plays by his own rules. But, he is also more than that: he acknowledges his flaws, is often self-deprecating, has a caring, personable side and is a truly engaging character that you want to succeed.

One little writing quirk I noticed were the random music mentions that would pop up frequently. Example: ‘What would Hank Williams have done? Buried his head in a drink. Sid Vicious? Shown him the finger and legged it. And Elvis? Elvis. Elvis Presley. Right.’ It turns out that Jo Nesbo, as well as being an author, is the lead singer in a Norwegian band, Di Derre, so that explains his love of musical references scattered throughout. Not that these are a negative thing, it’s just when there are a lot of them, you start to wonder why!

Overall though, the pace of this story never lets up. From the intriguing opening flashback to the twisting way the case unravels, there were several moments I actually felt my jaw drop slightly, as I was not expecting what I had just read. Often, when a thriller builds up the anticipation so steadily you are left a bit deflated at the final reveal – not the case here.

I have to admit, I’ve seen Jo Nesbo’s books on many a shelf while browsing through the years, but never felt I’d enjoy his books. As one of those authors whose name is often larger than the book title, I thought they would all be a bit thriller-by-numbers. BUT, I’m pleased to say The Snowman smashed my expectations and I enjoyed it so much that I’ll definitely be checking out others in the Harry Hole series. Anyone got advice on which one to read next?

Rating: 5/5

7 thoughts on “Review: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

    1. Perfect – thanks for the tip 😊 yes, I was thinking about reading them in order but as The Snowman worked so well as a stand alone book, I don’t mind dipping in and out of the order!

      Liked by 1 person

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