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344 of 363 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jo Nesbo - Yet Another World Class Thriller
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...
Published on 22 Mar 2010 by G. J. Oxley

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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chilling - in every sense of the word
The Snowman tells the story of Harry Hole as he becomes embroiled in a sinister serial killer case. Norway is not known for its serial killers, and Hole has a lot to prove to the rest of the police department to ensure that they believe they are dealing with multiple murders. Assisted by mysterious new detective Katrine, Hole can feel the tension ramping up as he tries to...
Published on 12 Nov 2010 by A. L. Rutter


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344 of 363 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jo Nesbo - Yet Another World Class Thriller, 22 Mar 2010
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Snowman (Hardcover)
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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New to Nesbo, 16 Mar 2010
By 
C. Thompson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Snowman (Hardcover)
This is only the second Harry Hole book I have read (now working may way through the series). I ordered the book once I was a few chapters into Nemesis as I knew I had stumbled upon a great character and a great author.

After completing Nemesis I was expecting great things from this book but it far outreached my expectations. This book grips you from the first to the last sentence. I have to confess that I worked out who the 'culprit' was half-way through the book, at least I made an educated guess and was proved to be right (the clues were there) but this in no way deterred from the suspense and enjoyment of the story.

I cannot recommend this book or indeed the character of Harry Hole highly enough.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great entry in the Harry Hole police detective series, 29 May 2010
By 
Maxine Clarke "Maxine of Petrona" (Kingston upon Thames, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Snowman (Hardcover)
Translated by Don Bartlett.

There is no doubt in my mind that THE SNOWMAN is the best so far of Jo Nesbo's series about Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo police. The novel is a very well-plotted, exciting story, initially about two women, both wives and mothers, who go missing - the start of a case with many complicated directions. But more than that, the protagonist (Harry) is an engaging character whose blend of tough vulnerability and funny subversions of authority make the reader strongly identify with him. As with many modern heroes of crime fiction, Harry stands up for what is right, and for intelligent, deductive police work, not for fashion, political correctness or toeing any organisational or party line. As the novel opens, the reader is given some hints that the women's disappearances may be related to other events during the past 25 years, and that the appearance of a snowman is a common theme to these sinister happenings. Even without this information, Harry is immediately convinced that a serial killer is at work, on the basis of a mysterious anonymous letter he has received referring in unnervingly precise terms to a case long ago in Harry's career, when he caught a notorious serial killer in Australia, making him famous in his native Norway*. Ever since, Harry has wanted to track down a serial killer on his home turf, but has never encountered one (regular readers of this series may think that this assertion stretches a point or two, based on some of Harry's earlier cases, but never mind).
What Harry is interested in is a battle of wits - the traditional serial killer of detective fiction who is highly intelligent and leaves complex clues as to his or her plan and motivation, a "worthy opponent". Convinced this is the case here, he, with newcomer Katrine Bratt, recently transferred to Oslo from the Bergen police, and his old colleagues Magnus Skarre and forensic expert Bjorn Holm, rush to follow up the serial killer hypothesis, leaving another department to carry out the traditional investigation of following up tips from the public and so on.
THE SNOWMAN is a complex, intellectually satisfying plot with many twists and turns. I half-guessed what was behind one aspect of it, guessed wrong on another, and failed completely to spot a third. Every time events seemed to be explicable, something else happens to cause further confusion - and these constant wrong turnings are so well dovetailed together in such an exciting manner, as flaws in the logic of one outcome lead directly to the next phase of the chase, that this book really is impossible to put down. Not once, but time and again, we are forced to re-think what we thought was true, as the author shows events from a range of views and cleverly reveals just enough to stay several steps ahead of the reader.
The novel is superbly translated by Don Bartlett, who conveys the author's naturalistic, humorous style - and perhaps most importantly, Nesbo's sensitivity to the human condition, to fathers' relationships to their children, and to the random cruelness of biology. It's always hard to point to flaws in a crime novel in case one gives away too much to those who have not yet read it, but as usual with this author, I found the main climax over-elaborate, and spotted one or two other slight inconsistencies. I am also surprised that Harry remains so trusting of people, both in his home and at work, given what's happened to him in previous novels.
But never mind - this book is fantastic. It really is a must-read, not least putting to rest the unfair cliche that Scandinavian novels are all about doom and gloom - but mainly it's just a brilliant police procedural novel, whose plot and characterisation can't be beaten. Do yourself a favour and read it.

*These events are told in the first Harry Hole story, THE BAT MAN, due to be published in English in 2012.

A full version of this review appears at Euro Crime.
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85 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Who made the snowman?", 16 Mar 2010
By 
Brida "izumi" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Snowman (Hardcover)
THE SNOWMAN is the first book by Nesbo that I have read. In fact, reading this has been a break away from the genres that I usually turn to; I rarely read crime novels. What drew me to the book was how snow and snowmen could be made into scary things. With this book, I realised how.

Nesbo is a fantastic writer. His story grabs you at the very beginning and it truly does not let go. The plot is also slowly built up; different threads and possibilities are woven into the story, some of which you may realise straightaway that they are relevant, others take a little more time before you see why they were there. All of the characters are well drawn too. Although Harry Hole, the policeman who is the main character, is a divorced, alcoholic, he does not read like a cliche. The struggles he has with the case, himself and his ex-wife were well thought out and you do not need to have read the other books in the Harry Hole series to appreciate this one.

An excellent read. Will make me look at snowmen in a whole new light, but I would recommend anyone to read this book - even those like me who never normally would.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chilling - in every sense of the word, 12 Nov 2010
By 
A. L. Rutter "Floor to Ceiling Books" (Portsmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Snowman: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 5) (Paperback)
The Snowman tells the story of Harry Hole as he becomes embroiled in a sinister serial killer case. Norway is not known for its serial killers, and Hole has a lot to prove to the rest of the police department to ensure that they believe they are dealing with multiple murders. Assisted by mysterious new detective Katrine, Hole can feel the tension ramping up as he tries to solve the case before the snows come - and The Snowman kills again.

Well, after reading the three books that composed The Millennium trilogy, I was looking to continue my Scandinavian crime reading stint and decided to pick up the new Big Thing in the form of The Snowman by Jo Nesbo. It was similar, but only to the extent that both works deal with serial killers.

On the plus side, The Snowman is tauter and far less bloated. The story whips along with little clues and red herrings littering the work and leading you towards the inevitable conclusion. In fact, this novel might be worth a re-read - just to check all the details that form part of the clues.

On the negative side, we have a far less charismatic hero in the form of Harry Hole - we're back to the usual stereotype of alcoholic maverick detective, who is determined to solve the case to the point of obsession and losing all of his friends and family.

One thing is very clear: we are not dealing here with a nice story. The Snowman is a terrifying plot device to use - something that is usually so innocent and free from horror. I don't think I will ever, ever want to make a snowman again, especially not after reading passages like this:

"The snow in the garden reflected enough light for him to make out the snowman down below [...] At that moment the moon slid from behind a cloud. The black row of teeth came into view. And the eyes. [...] The pebble-eyes were gleaming. And they were not staring into the house. They were looking up. Up here."

*shudders* Other people might find sections like that a little ridiculous, but for me it brought out all those nightmares you have as a child. Adding in real passages of terror, where the unseen killer commits his murders, just increases the fear factor for me. I had to have the light on last night after reading this into the wee small hours. And I had to keep checking to convince myself that the snow hadn't started to fall.

It was a fairly disposable read, however. Having mentioned a re-read above, I don't think this is a book I would pick up again. It did the job effectively, but it won't stay with me for too long and I didn't like or empathise with many of the characters. In a way, it is incredibly routine, with only the snowman angle lifting it out of the doldrums of mediocrity.

In conclusion, a decent enough way to spend a few hours.
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Snowman--Jo Nesbo, 6 Mar 2010
By 
Simon Clarke (Hackney, London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Snowman (Hardcover)
'The Snowman'is the author's fifth Inspector Harry
Hole novel available in English.It is totally gripping,
and as usual with Nesbo,the action and tension are relentless,
with matters rarely turning out as one expects.
Harry Hole is the recipient of a letter from the Snowman.
He soon finds that this relates to serial killings,over
a period of time,of women who have children,and committed
on the first day of snow in the year.
What follows is a masterfully written thriller,inventive
exciting storytelling,fluently translated,that reveals Jo
Nesbo to be one of the very best writers in the genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't be surprised if you'll be scared by snowmen made in front of your house, 27 April 2014
This review is from: The Snowman: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 5) (Paperback)
"The Snowman" by Jo Nesbo is seventh title in the Detective Harry Hole series that introduced readers to a bit different police investigator that is anything but clichéd detective that is often found in thrillers.

This book takes place in Oslo, beginning near the end of the year when snow season starts in Norway. And when the first snow had fall, Jonas, boy will awake in the middle of night finding out that his mother is gone, nowhere to be found.
When he will look through his room window, he would see a spooky snowman that all of the sudden appeared in front of their house, although Jonas doesn't know who made it.

What's the creepiest is that around its neck a Mom's scarf is tied, the only thing that's left of her after she vanished into thin air...
When strange letter will come, Detective Hole will establish a connection with Jonas's mother disappearance, but slowly the shocking truth will begin to surface, she wasn't the only woman who disappeared the night when first snow has fallen...
And as it usually happens in his cases, gradually Harry will be less and less someone who only investigates, but more someone who is becoming part of the case, part of the game that smart murderer is playing with all of them...

As is the case with all Joe Nesbo's previously released novels, except his literary style that is devoid of any pathos and seems realistic regardless of the story's morbidity, the most special part of his writing is his main character, Detective Harry Hole.
Although readers who are not familiar with every Harry Hole novel will be less up to date with his life's failures, even those for whom this was the first novel where they met this guy will soon see how unusual character he is.
He has multiple character flaws, fighting alcoholism, without any true love, lonely and with heavy secrets on his soul related to his professional career.

And although I won't spoil you joy of reading, I can assure you that those who love Harry Hole with this novel will be satisfied in terms of action and, especially, the end of the novel.

This title shares scariness and creepiness of previously released Nesbo novels, and although the plot on first look can be seen as unrealistic, more you will move through its pages you'll more feel this case is getting under your skin.
So don't be surprised if the next winter night you'll be scared by snowmen that in front of your house was made by children; this bitter novel succeeds in filling reader with pure horror...

"The Snowman" is must-read for each and every fan of Jo Nesbo, although for the full experience of detective adventures, I suggest you to read novels in chronological order.
That way you will be even more drawn to all the exciting and frightening cases in which he participated, while getting to know him better as a character.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jo Nesbo - The Snowman, 10 Mar 2010
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Snowman (Hardcover)
No one currently writes better thrillers than Jo Nesbo. Briton, American, Scandinavian. No one. And that's just the end of it. He writes big, gripping, involving thrillers, with baroque storylines that twist and turn and writhe and are handled *so* expertly that I can barely believe it sometimes; it's almost easier to believe that Nesbo just wings it and forces it all into place than that he plans it in advance, because that would just be stunning.

I really cannot recommend his books enough to lovers of crime fiction. They're just wonderful.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I gave this four stars because I really enjoyed the read, 18 Sep 2014
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I gave this four stars because I really enjoyed the read, but I do have some concerns. Having read 'The Son', I was so impressed that I decided to read through all of the Jo Nesbo books in chronological order. Including 'The Son' (obviously read out of order), finishing 'The Snowman' brings my count to eight. And the problem is the formula or, rather, the fact that there is a very definite formulaic approach to them all that borders on the 'Mills & Boon'. Here's how it goes:

1. - A really snappy and intriguing beginning, setting up a complex plot of diverse characters.
2. - Harry's alcoholism is stressed, especially in respect of his love life.
3. - 70% of the way through, an apparent villain will be identified.
4. - At 80%, it is revealed that everyone has been fooled and, in fact, the villain is someone else
5. - At 90%, we find that we've been fooled again and, indeed, the real villain is exposed.
6. - At 94%, whoever is the love of Harry's life is in mortal danger and only Harry can save her.
7. - At 99%, Harry either saves her or, tragically, doesn't.
8. - At some point, Harry's new assistant plays a significant role

Now, I know that Norway is small, but anyone who finds themselves either the love interest or the partner of Harry Hole should, immediately make serious plans for their demise as such status is always fatal or, at best, life threatening.

It's very hard to describe some of my concerns without issuing a spoiler; something I always try to avoid. But, for example, Harry suffers an injury (a permanent loss) at the end of this book and, for the life of me, I can't imagine how that could have occurred, given the physics of the event. Then there is the exterminator; the astute and cynical Harry simply lets this character walk into his apartment and rip it to bits. Not to mention wondering how the villain got half a ton of snow into a bedroom at short notice without alerting anyone. As I progress through this series of novels, the plots become more and more contrived, stretching credulity to transparent thinness.

As a comparison, Jeffery Deaver also produces very complex story lines, also with lots of twists and surprises, but they aren't to a formula so, as an avid reader, you don't see the shocks coming. Not so with Mr Nesbo. These plots are so predictable that I identified the villain of 'The Snowman' in the preceding book, 'The Redeemer', not because any hint was given but simply because it's easy to see the formula and then just wait for your predictions to roll out with depressing accuracy. I haven't read 'The Leopard' yet but I'm already pretty sure that I can see where Harry's relationships are going, the exterminator is bound to play a sinister part and I can see further threats to Oleg on the horizon too.

So, with all of this scathing criticism, why have I still awarded four stars? Well, mainly because it's still a cracking good story and, if read as a stand alone novel, you'd never spot the formula. There are more references to Oslo and specific Norwegian cultural and linguistic issues in this novel than has been the case in earlier books but that didn't spoil anything for me and the translation is as excellent as it has been in previous books.

I've only got three more Harry Hole books to go to complete my mission so I will continue. No doubt the formula will be even more evident with each passing effort but at least they will be engaging stories nevertheless. And, finally, it will conclude with 'Headhunters' which has the most promise as it isn't a Harry Hole book and so can't possibly contain the formula. Here's hoping!
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Snowman, 24 May 2010
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This review is from: The Snowman (Hardcover)
I did enjoy reading the Snowman by Jo Nesbo which is a good detective story. However it is sold as a novel similar to Stig Larssons Millennium Trilogy and therefore was a disappointment. Stig Larsson used his novels to discuss the issue of violence against women and neo-nazi groups in Sweden. There is no such examination of social problems in Norway by Jo Nesbo except perhaps the issue of paternity. The Snowman is certainly a page turner as they say although I had been able to guess who the bad guy was long before the end of the novel in spite of some obvious red herrings. So in short, Jo Nesbo is not another Stig Larsson but enjoyable just the same.
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The Snowman: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 5)
The Snowman: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 5) by Jo Nesbo (Paperback - 19 Aug 2010)
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