Book Review: The Snowman

Synopsis according to Goodreads:
"Oslo in November. The first snow of the season has fallen. A boy named Jonas wakes in the night to find his mother gone. Out his window, in the cold moonlight, he sees the snowman that inexplicably appeared in the yard earlier in the day. Around its neck is his mother’s pink scarf.

Hole suspects a link between a menacing letter he’s received and the disappearance of Jonas’s mother—and of perhaps a dozen other women, all of whom went missing on the day of a first snowfall. As his investigation deepens, something else emerges: he is becoming a pawn in an increasingly terrifying game whose rules are devised—and constantly revised—by the killer.

The Snowman is a contemporary, gritty detective novel that follows a serial killer’s gruesome crimes, and Inspector Harry Hole’s attempt to stop them. It was interesting to see crime drama from a non-American perspective. The story was both grittier in language and sexual references than most American stories I’ve read, and (interestingly, to me) featured a hero who wasn’t very heroic.

It isn’t just that Harry Hole is a (barely) recovering alcoholic, with poor social skills and good instincts. It’s that he doesn’t figure everything out. He makes mistakes- major ones, repeatedly. He follows the clues and his gut, and even when we the audience know he’s wrong…he’s still just an Inspector.

And because I love realistically flawed characters, I was entertained (albeit frustrated) by his leaping to conclusions, missing clues, and general assumptions. I also got the distinct impression that Norway is tiny and not used to crime of any kind.

If you enjoy creepy crime novels, especially serial killer novels that will have you guessing whodunnit until the last 5 chapters of the book or so, you’ll want to read this one. And you don’t need to be familiar with Nesbo’s other books to jump in, or understand Harry.

But you probably shouldn’t read it on the first day of snow.

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