Book Read! THE SNOWMAN by Jo Nesbo
Jo Nesbo, The Snowman (2007).
First sentence: “It was the day the snow came.”
P. 99: “When had the boy turned eleven and decided to like music about various stages of death, alienation, freezing and general doom?”
Last sentence: “But it is.”
Summary (Author’s Website):
It is November in Oslo and the first snow of the year has fallen. Birte Becker comes home from work and praises the snowman her husband and son have made in the garden. But they haven’t made a snowman. As the family stand by the sitting room window looking out in amazement at the snowman, the son notices that it is facing the house. The black eyes are staring at the window. At them.
Detective Inspector Harry Hole receives an anonymous letter signed “The Snowman”. Later he finds an alarming common thread in all the old disappearance cases. Married women go missing the day the first snow falls. That same night Sylvia Pedersen is fighting her way through the first snow in a forest outside Oslo. She knows she is running for her life, but she doesn’t know what from. Nor does she know what lies ahead. Fortunately.
I had to wait till the first snow fell here in Belgium before I could read this book that had been waiting on my shelf for a couple of months (I know, I know, that’s stupid… but that’s the way my mind works) and when it finally snowed, it seemed Judith from Leeswammes’ Blog had the same idea. So she suggested to review this book together and ask each other a few questions about it. You can read her answers to my questions here.
I really liked this book, I thought it was a page-turner. I liked Harry Hole and the way he worked. It seems all good detectives have difficulties relating to others, but perhaps this is normal when you are a bit obsessed by your work.
These are the questions Judith has come up with:
Judith: On my copy of the book was a sticker saying “The next Stieg Larsson”. Do you agree with that?
Nadine: I had the same question for Judith.
No, I don’t agree. The books of Larsson are totally different from this one. Larsson’s story involves much more social aspects like politics and capitalism and everything that goes with it, that Nesbo doesn’t talk about. With Larsson, the crime elements are part of a bigger story, while the murders are the main theme of Nesbo’s book. The Snowman is a novel with all the aspects and elements of a thrilling and exciting story (enough characters, complex plot, diversions, …).
Nesbo’s first book in the Harry Hole series was published in 1997, while the first book of the Millennium Trilogy only got published in 2005, so it would rather have to be: “Larsson, the next Jo Nesbo”. But I think you cannot compare their books, because of the different approach they take to their subjects.
Judith: I know you loved this book. What did you like in particular?
Nadine: For a start, I love most crime, detective and mystery books and thrillers. And even more so when they have a number of characters that fit as suspects and when the plot is a bit more complex than a simple forward moving story and yet is not so fabricated that it all becomes rather impossible. The Snowman has all that… and even more, because I really liked Harry Hole. I like people who get so absorbed in whatever they are doing that they seem to forget the world around them (although these people definitely are not the easiest to live with). The only thing I found a little hard to believe was the escape from death at the end of the book, but that detail didn’t lessen the pleasure I had had.
Judith: Is this book a standard thriller to you, or does it stand out in some way?
Nadine: It does stand out from other thrillers by the atmosphere of fear that radiates through the book and by the rather ingenious plot. For me this was a page-turner. I liked a lot of the characters, and the relation between some of them and I liked the setting. I don’t know Oslo (or Scandinavia) and it seems I always enjoy books that are situated in the more northern European countries.
Judith: Why do you think Harry’s ex-wife came to visit him every now and then?
Nadine: The most logical answer would be that she still loves Harry; I think this could be true, because, from what I learned from this book, she didn’t leave him because their love was over, but because she couldn’t live with someone who got so involved by his work that he forgot someone was waiting for him at home.
But perhaps there was something that she intuitively felt was not right with Matthias, although it seemed he would be the perfect and ideal husband. She probably couldn’t define what it was, but it seems that she constantly tried to convince herself that he was the right one. And when you have to convince yourself of that, it can only be because you are not sure.
Judith: What did you think of Harry, the alcoholic, divorced policeman who preferred to work alone?
Nadine: Despite him being an alcoholic, I really liked him… I liked the way he worked and thought, the way he handled his superiors and his colleagues. I think when you have a job like he does, it is not so simple to keep off drink and drugs, and I appreciated it that he really tried.