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21 May 2010
Review: THE SNOWMAN, Jo Nesbo
Published in Norwegian 2007, translated into English by Don Bartlett 2010
Sequentially #7 in the Harry Hole series
The way children turn out is determined mainly by two things: conscious decisions their parents make; and their DNA over which they have no control at all. Sometimes the two combine with totally unpredictable consequences.
Nearly twenty four years after the day in November 1980 when Sara Kvinesland spent 40 minutes making love to her nippleless lover while her son waited in the car, the first snow arrived early in November. Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Police Crime Squad thought of the peculiar letter he had received a few weeks earlier. On that day too Katrine Bratt from Bergen joined the Oslo squad, and that night Jonas Becker awoke to find his mother gone.
By the middle of the next day the early snow has melted and the snowman in the front garden is on the point of collapse. When Jonas Becker tells Harry Hole that he doesn't know who made the snowman, and that during the night it was wearing his mother's scarf, Harry thinks again of the strange letter.
Has Harry finally identified a serial killer? Twelve years before there was a death where the killer's "signature" had seemed to be a snowman. And the policeman in charge of that case had disappeared without trace. And Harry has that letter...
There are many threads that hold this novel together: a celebrity who has a hereditary disease who has passed it onto his children, cases of women who have disappeared without trace, important calendar dates in the lives of American Presidents, and Harry's personal life, under acute attack from a number of angles.
Harry Hole will be permanently scarred by the events of THE SNOWMAN, but do we believe him when in the final pages he says he is going away and never coming back?
Despite its length THE SNOWMAN is a real page turner, and will not disappoint. Somehow the character of Harry Hole seemed a bit clearer to me: he still has his problems with alcohol, he is constantly focussed on his work, and there are those in the police hierarchy who see him as an easy scapegoat. But the values that make Harry the good cop that he is come come through loud and clear.
My rating 5.
Other reviews of Nesbo titles on this blog
THE REDEEMER (4.8)
Other reviews of THE SNOWMAN:
I am "counting" this title both in the 2010 global reading challenge and the Scandinavian Reading Challenge.