345 of 364 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
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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2.0 out of 5 stars Dismal,
Just to be clear from the start I am no disappointed Stieg Larsson fan, I read Dragon Tattoo and thought it was no more than OK. I was hoping for something better here. I ended up disappointed.
Some SPOILERs ahead*************
The dire opening chapter should have put me off. But I persevered, and it did pick up for a while. Unlike Larson this is a standard police procedural. The detective, Harry Hole (despite the dodgy name) is a reasonably engaging character - just the believable side if the cliched drunk divorced policeman. The set up in the first third is pretty good. However, a fairly obvious culprit is flagged up early on, and I thought `I hope it is not him because that would be too obvious'.....guess what.....
Nesbo's prose and characterisation is far better than Larsson. But the plot really lets this down. I confess I am a bit bored with serial killer plots, but even allowing for that, this is poor. For the middle third the `Snowman' goes missing, while we follow a number of obvious blind alleys and red herrings. Then there is a big reveal and an over the top conclusion.
By the end the whole thing became so ludicrous that I couldn't have cared what happened to any of them, because I didn't believe in any of it anymore. There may still be some life in the serial killer plot line but it needs a bit more invention than poorly motivated misogyny, (the one thing Nesbo & Larson do have in common is graphic depictions of violence against women). Despite some good elements I couldn't recommend this to anyone.
5.0 out of 5 stars Obsession and Obsessive,
At first sight I thought `The Snowman' by Jo Nesbo ran along the same lines as other detective feature I'd read. Harry Hole, the protagonist. Resembled Mike Connelly's Harry Bosch. However, I soon realised that although Harry has the usual cop symptoms - dysfunctional life-style, broken marriage and restricted work environment - this book is much darker. Also the whole atmosphere, methodology etc. of the police work seems different.
Nesbo interlaces short scenes of the killer going about his' blood-work' with detectives struggling to keep up. I guessed the killer's identity early on so enjoyed the false trails without the aftershock of disillusion.
Harry Hole and Kristin Blatt are well-drawn characters. Minor characters are sharply drawn - Gert `Iron' Rafto, the `heroic' dishonest cop, Rakel, unable to determine which partner in bed is what she needs, Magnus Skarre, a walking enigma at the station.
The style is simple, straightforward - and deceptively so:
`'"Surprised?" said the voice he could place only now.
Rafto didn't answer. His brain had started processing again.
"You thought you knew me," the voice said. "But it was just me who knew you. That was how I guessed you would try to do this alone.
"It's a game," the voice said.
Rafto cleared his throat. "A game?"
Yes. You like playing games."' (P.63)
And don't they all. Does this show the superiority of the hunted over the hunter when the latter doesn't knows the rules and boundaries of the game? It takes Harry Hole a long time, with mistakes and blind alleys, before he grasps this.
Here's another extract which, in a way, is a counterpoint to the last one:
`...... "Do you know who she is?"
"Yes," Harry said, running a finger over the watch face. The same watch a mere few hours ago he had been holding in his own hand. The watch that had been left in his bedroom. That he had put in the bird box because Rakel's boyfriend was taking her out this evening. To a party. To celebrate that from now on the two of them would be as one.
Again Harry looked at the eyes, her accusing eyes.
Yes, he thought, Guilty on all counts.' (P.505)
Note how using simple sentence reflects the discontinuity in a shocked man's thought processes.
The pace is great and it's a real page-turner. I found it hard to put down. I look forward to reading another Harry Hole book.
3.0 out of 5 stars From the mildy eccentric to the frankly ridiculous,
This is the second Nesbo that I have read, and already patterns in the plots and writing are becoming apparent. The Norwegian police start each book as about the densest and most inefficient bunch of people imaginable. A standard police check could have found this book's baddie before page 40. And do we believe that police could thoroughly search a dwelling, even dredging the lake, but neglect to open the freezer door? But later they, and especially Harry Hole, become imbued with an all encompassing knowledge and insight, enabling them to know what is going on, what will go on, and be prepared for all and any contingency.
The plot itself careers from the mildly eccentric to the frankly ridiculous. Without wanting to give anything away, wouldn't you notice if somebody was moving the furniture in the room above your head, then dragging huge snow masses through the front door and up the stairs? And when you're in a room, you've booby trapped the only door in, and the windows are all barred, how exactly do you get out? Nesbo doesn't find it necessary to explain any of this. I get the impression that he's not really aware of exactly how improbable much of what he writes is. But if I were charitable, I would say that this is deliberate as he wants to stop the reader thinking about the story too deeply. Because once the main characters have been introduced, it only takes a little thought and juggling of possibilities to work out who was probably doing what to whom, weird plot twists aside.
Despite everything, this was the better of the two Nesbo books I've read, with fewer translation/proof-reading errors (but I know I'm not the only one who still knows the difference between "hung" and "hanged".) It is fairly easy to read, but some sloppy plot lines leave far too many hanging threads. A little more care from the writer could have produced a real gem, but this doesn't work well enough for me.
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Nesbo,
Here's a fine crime story that will satisfy both readers who demand first and foremost a complex plot and those who give priority to plenty of action sequences. From its first few pages, "The Snowman", which is the chronicle of a truly diabolical serial killer at work, establishes a palpable tension that grabs the reader and doesn't let up until the last chapter. Author Jo Nesbo shows once again that he is both the master of the serpentine plot and a devotee of the effective anti-climax. In "The Snowman" one murder after another is followed by a plausible resolution that is blasted apart in short order by protagonist Inspector Harry Hole's continuing doubts about the case. This kind of red herring tease can lose its appeal in the hands of a lesser writer, but Nesbo knows what he's doing and does a skilled job at building on the anti-climaxes to construct a whiz-bang ending that delivers plenty of action along with an intelligent close.
The storyline, in a nutshell, involves the return of careworn and recovering alcoholic Harry Hole, legendary inspector of major crimes with the Oslo Police Department AND a crazed serial killer of women who he deems amoral for their liaisons with multiple male partners. It becomes clear eventually that the killer's motivation goes way beyond simple biblical morality and that his own personal history is the driving force behind his "punishment" of the women. As the story unfolds and the bodies continue to pile up, it is revealed that Harry Hole is directly related to the crimes in a way that is only gradually made visible to the reader.
"The Snowman" is a real thriller in every sense of the word and, for me, was one of those crime novels that you stay up late to finish. The comparison of author Nesbo with Stieg Larsson is okay as far as it goes, but Nesbo has carved out a place for himself in crime fiction that doesn't need comparisons to others in the field. This is a fine read. Highly recommended. .
5.0 out of 5 stars No, not Stieg Larsson - oh, good,
There are a significant number of Stieg Larsson fans who dislike Jo Nesbo's books and feel the need to make a demeaning comparison. I fall into the opposite school: couldn't tolerate the cynical sadism of Larsson but find Nesbo a welcome author of crime fiction. Perhaps we - the two camps - should agree to differ and leave it at that. And probably there is a third party option - love them both, or hate them both.
The Snowman is about the search for a serial killer, previously an unknown in Norway. It made for a strange final reading day just as the Breivik trial was opening in Oslo; but one is hideous fact, the other escapist fiction. So I had no problem with the false trails, the unexpected twists - this, after all, is in a tradition that runs through the genre all the way back to Agatha Christie (Ten Little Indians, anyone?) and John Dickson Carr, and probably further still to Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins.
It is true that Harry Hole is by far the most rounded of Nesbo's creations. He works for me rather better than Maigret or, for goodness sake, Hercule Poirot. But I don't want to be tempted too far into the comparison game or we will be back where we started, with Stieg Larsson.
3.0 out of 5 stars Just didn't flow for me.,
This review is from: The Snowman: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 5) (Kindle Edition)
Not a bad book but I've read much much better. It starts off really well and you get the impression that you're into a winner but then it seems to go off at all sorts of tangents and when you eventually catch up its like you've missed half the book and need to read several chapters again. Harry Hole is a fantastic character and shows loads of promise. A quick mind and quite convincing in his deductions..... but then he does get it wrong, several times before he works it out. Which isn't hard when all the clues have been there and basically have been jumping up and down dancing right in front of him before he clicks on. Then there's the language barrier. Might just be me but because I can't pronounce any of the names I don't really identify with any of the other characters, and neither does Harry really. They seem to be introduced as characters and some of them could have added an additional twist to the tale, but then they are dropped or reintroduced and I find myself trying to remember who they are. Likewise Harry doesn't seem to have any sort of rapport with any of them. Something that might develop I suppose in later books. Not sure I would read another, not yet anyway.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Disease?,
The Harry Hole series presents the reader with somewhat of an anomaly. On the one hand, we are informed that Norway is virtually free from serial killers. On the other hand, Hole is reputed to be the only detective in the nation with experience in catching serial killers, having accomplished his experience in Australia and also attending an FBI course. And then, serial killers tend to appear in the Harry Hole novels, including this one.
The first of several missing persons is a married mother, and the only clue is a snowman outside her home. Shortly before her disappearance, Hole received a mysterious letter which, in retrospect, leads him to believe there was a link between it and the woman's vanishing. In reviewing unsolved cases, Harry and his team find an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over some years.
Once again, Jo Nesbo has written a taut thriller, one that is forceful and gripping and, this time, full of madness. His novels just keep on getting better and better. Fast-paced and staggering, always keeping the reader looking ahead to the next shift, keeping one off balance with wonder. Highly recommended.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Snowman,
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't read The Leopard before this novel!!,
This book was fantastic and I agree wholeheartedly with the above reviewers in the sense that this is by far and away the best Hole novel. The constant twists and turns, the clever way that Nesbo intricately weaves minute yet significant details together throughout the story and the crescendo like ending when everything begins to fall into place.
However, I wanted to write the review as a warning so that others don't make the mistake I did: DO NOT read The Leopard before this novel - *spoiler* the tiny detail at the beginning of the book about Mathias's blood cells containing the antibodies for scleroderma effectively solved the entire novel, given that Hole meets with the snowman in The Leopard (a book later) who happens to be slowly dying of the disease in a psychiatric unit. The annoyance is that the Jo Nesbo website clearly states that you may read the books in any order as they are not significantly linked, however, they clearly are. Even so, it is a testament to Nesbo's writing that I genuinely doubted this conclusion throughout the novel, even though I knew it to be true!
2.0 out of 5 stars Errrrrrrr I Just don't know,
After a few years of purposely avaoiding famous or popular writers (a condition caused by Dan Brown who in my opinion couldn't write a convincing shopping list) I've relented and gone for a read from the current crop of Scandanavian big names. Notice i can still retain some moral high ground by not having chosen Stieg Larsson!
I don't really know why i bothered though. I just don't get it. Formulaic would be the best way to put it. Stories that i'm more than capable of making up in my head with a little bit of shock factor thrown in. I'd be as well watching soap operas all night and then slaughter a neighbour's family pet before going to bed. This would be cheaper than buying this book but a good deal less socially acceptabe. The result would be the same though. Utter banality followed by an act that made me sleep uneasily. Can't fault the writing or the themes or the creation of atmosphere but this is just basically the same book i read hunderds of times in my teens before i realised that mass market crime fiction is in fact all just pish!
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