As one other reviewer has commented, it does take about 200 pages or so to pick up the various strands which constitute the thread of narrative in this marvellous book.
Until I read this novel, I had never considered the multifacetedness of snow and ice. A multifacetnedness, moreover, which is reflected in the nature of our hero, Miss Smilla Jaspersen, by turns kind, generous, giving, understanding, gritty, determined, forthwright, violent, gentle, humorous, intelligent etc etc. She is wholly unique, and just fabulous.
To summarise this as a murder mystery or crime thriller is to do it a severe injustice. So much wisdom is here, so much raw human nature, that it is possible to become a little overwhelmed by it. However, Hoeg steers you through it all, as competently as a seasoned sea captain. And, despite its occasional brutality, on is left with an extraordinary sense of beauty and conscious of the value of human life. We should reflect on these more often, Hoeg appears to be saying, and I cannot help but agree.