BOOK REVIEW: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

I will not claim to be the first person to ever preach about the greatness that is Jo Nesbo. The Norwegian Nordic Noir author has sold millions of copies, and this book has even been developed into a feature film. In fact, it would be incredibly accurate to say that I am actually behind the times on this one.

Nesbo started his series of crime novels focused on detective Harry Hole in the 1990s, and has been on a roll ever since. Hole, a brilliant detective with an alcohol problem and quite a few personal issues, is the perfect leading man. He’s likeable, he’s smart, and he’s always going to catch the bad guy.

Like the absolute amateur that I am, I started the series not with book #1, but with book #7: The Snowman. Although it’s always best to start at the beginning, it was really easy to dive into the world of Harry Hole and the Oslo Police Department without knowing much background. Nesbo weaves Harry’s backstory in as The Snowman unfolds, giving me a glimpse into the life of this long-lived character.

The Snowman is a frightening a story: a serial killer is haunting the streets of Oslo and Bergen, snatching women away on the first day of snowfall, and leaving behind nothing but a snowman as a signature. Hole, along with new department addition Katrine Bratt, tracks the killer and becomes so deeply invested in the case that he may not be able to extricate himself.

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“Beware the falling snow.”

Having heard quite a bit about Nesbo’s books in the past, I had a feeling The Snowman would stand out among the many police procedurals I’ve read in the past, and I was definitely right. The Snowman is a slog – there are so many characters and locations and important details to keep track of. It was actually quite complicated to read at times. I had to flip back and forth between pages to make sure I knew who was who and what was going on. But rather than being annoying, the complexity of the case was what made this book so fun. I became so invested in the crimes and investigation that I was excited every time I had to check my notes to see if I was correctly following what was happening.

The Snowman had so many plot twists that by the end I didn’t think it would be possible to include any more. I was never quite sure what Nesbo was going to throw at me next. I did not see the ending coming, but it also made perfect sense. Nesbo tied up every last loose thread to make sure his villain had a flawless back story and concrete reasons for committing the crimes.

The Snowman is creepy, gruesome, frightening, and, strangely enough, totally fun. It’s a perfect Halloween read, and an ideal book for anyone who has been looking for a new crime book to dive into.