13 February 2011

Book Review: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Title: The Snowman
Author: Jo Nesbo
Publisher: Vintage Books
ISBN: 9780099520276
550 pages
Genre: Crime Fiction
Price: £6.99

I was hooked after reading the first chapter of this gritty crime novel. The story is about a worrying number of wives and mothers who have gone missing over the years in Norway. The mystery of their disappearance soon turns into a desperate murder investigation.

The story is set in Oslo in the winter. The wintry weather adds a chilly (sinister) element in more ways than one. Why does the killer strike after the first snowfall? What is the meaning behind the snowman?

I was quickly drawn into the terrifying story. I wanted to know what happens next despite feeling increasingly unsettled by the sense of evil which permeates the story until the nail-biting climax.

Detective Harry Hole begins to suspect a serial killer is on the loose and the clues to solving the case are slowly revealed to Harry as well as to the reader.

The gruesome details make for some uncomfortable reading. The full horror was very easy to visualize, so much so that a couple times I had to stop reading for a little while. 

The central character, Harry Hole, is a tough (but kind) detective. He's also an alcoholic. An alcoholic cop probably sounds like a predictable stereotype but Harry Hole is anything but boring. He's obsessed about his work and he has a cynical attitude about everything which makes him all the more appealing.

I enjoyed the snappy dialogue between all of the characters and the way they relate to each other in a realistic way, whether it's between children and their parents, or between the detectives, or detectives questioning suspects.

The plot is convoluted with more than enough suspects to keep the reader guessing. It's a challenge to put the clues together to figure out the identity of the killer, although I think most readers will guess who the killer is before the end.

The climactic scene is jaw-dropping but I have to admit that I thought it was a bit over-done. It's still a fabulous story though and I highly recommend it if you are looking for an exciting crime thriller.

The Snowman is the first book I've read by Jo Nesbo but I don't think you need to have read the other books in the series to appreciate this one. I now intend to read all of Jo Nesbo's other books featuring the very likeable character, Detective Harry Hole.

It's worth noting that the author has announced (via his website) that The Snowman is to be adapted into a film. I'm looking forward to that!

Here's a video trailer to promote the book:


  1. I've read, and enjoyed, all of Jo Nesbo's books. As you liked this one I'm sure that you'll also enjoy the others.
    I read a lot of crime novels, and usually prefer British or European, authors. Flighty xx

  2. Hi Flighty. Thanks for recommending all of the other books by Jo Nesbo. I will definitely read them!