You'd be forgiven for thinking that 'snowman' was a slang term for a cocaine dealer - but you'd be wrong. In this, the fifth Jo Nesbo to be translated into English, there's a particularly nasty, hyper-intelligent serial killer of that name; a man with serious psychological issues rooted in a past event. Nesbo's marvellous creation - detective Harry Hole - initially struggles to get a handle on his identity and makes wrong assumptions, but ... I'll not give away any more of the plot.
The book is full of incidental invention, and it was only after finishing the book, when I thought back on everything that occurred within its pages, that I fully appreciated the author's genius. And believe me, that is not too strong a word for what's on offer here. It's not difficult to work out who the killer is (I don't think it's meant to be) but it's what the author does with the plot that counts: he takes familiar elements and twists completely new shapes out of them. Indeed the last fifty pages or so are almost unbearably tense and are as exciting as anything I've read in the past three years.
No-one in the world of crime fiction is producing better stuff than Jo Nesbo and that includes Michael Connelly, Elmore Leonard, George Pelecanos, James Lee Burke et al. He is THAT good. I can hardly wait for the next one and If I had the money I'd pay the excellent translator, Don Bartlett, out of my own pocket to get them translated quicker! Counting up my personal Amazon ratings, I make that 24 stars out of maximum 25 for the five Nesbo books I've read. This, for me is a prime indicator of not only his stellar talent, but the sheer consistent brilliance of his output.