The Snowman – Jo Nesbo

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 Richard and Judy 2010 Winter Read

Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett

The Snowman is the 7th book in the Harry Hole series, but as the first two books haven’t been translated into English yet, it is the 5th available in the UK. I have been told that it is the best book in the series and that it is not necessary to read them in order. I can’t comment on the first statement, but I pretty sure the second one isn’t true.

The book follows Harry Hole, a detective skilled in tracking down serial killers. Harry has an international reputation, but hasn’t had to find a murderer on his own turf before. All this changes when women in Oslo start disappearing. At first the only link between the victims is that a snowman is found at each crime scene, but as the investigation continues everything becomes much more complicated.

The Snowman is a well paced thriller with plenty of twists and turns. It has been compared to Steig Larsson’s trilogy, but apart from the fact both authors are Scandinavian, there are few similarities. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is slow, with an extraordinary amount of detail and a dark, depth. The Snowman is much easier to read and has a faster pace, but it didn’t have the disturbing scenes that were present in the Larsson trilogy. The Snowman isn’t without its scary moments – it did contain a few chilling scenes and I don’t think I’ll ever look at snowmen in the same light again!

Then he caught sight of the snowman. It stood there as before, immovable, facing the house, bathed in the cold moonlight. Yet there was something different about it, something almost human….

My only regret is that I didn’t read the rest of the series first. I can’t be sure as I haven’t read any of Nesbo’s other books, but I think I now know some major spoilers for the earlier books. I also found that these references to previous books meant that some sections made little sense to me, a person starting the series at book seven. It didn’t affect my understanding of The Snowman, but many references to earlier cases went over the top of my head.  

The Snowman is an enjoyable crime thriller with an impressive plot, but I wasn’t bowled over by it. I didn’t guess the killer, but I didn’t feel a sense of amazement when all was revealed. An entertaining read, but not one which is going to become a classic.

Have you read any of Jo Nesbo’s books?

Which one do you think is the best?

Would I find the plot in any of the earlier books more impressive?

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  1. I loved this book, Jackie – the first one I have read by the author too as the others weren’t translated then. I found it a real page-turner. I have bought one of his other books (I can’t remember the name of it thought) to read in December as it is set over Christmas and there’s nothing like a good yuletide murder ;)

    1. Jackie says:

      The Book Whisperer, I have a copy of The Redbreast (first in UK series) but I can’t decide whether to read that one next or wait until original two are translated into English. I’ll keep an eye out for your Nesbo reviews and hope you might be able to help me to decide – enjoy your Christmas murders!!

  2. JoV says:

    I held this book on my hand yesterday and decide against it. Good thing your review is published and I read it before I try Jo Nesbo. It sounds like I can live without reading it. ;)

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, Or perhaps it would be better if you read the first in the series? Either way I’m pleased that my review was helpful for you.

  3. Beth F says:

    Regardless of how many people will tell be an entry in a series can stand alone, I hate reading series out of order. Series build on previous entries and I always feel a bit lost. And I hate getting the spoilers to the earlier books.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, I have found a few books which stand alone and use the same characters as previous books, but not many. I don’t think I’ll risk starting part way through a series again.

  4. Steph says:

    How odd that the first two books haven’t been translated into English! It seems so strange to me that publishers and translators would pick up a series midway and start there.

    I have found that every time people say that books in a series don’t need to be read in order that I always find this not to be the case. I always find that there are little throwaway references or moments that recall earlier books and without having read them, I feel either lost or like I’m missing out on something. I have learned my lesson and I will now only read series in chronological order!

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, It was the fact that the first two books hadn’t been translated that led me to think this series might be OK to start at any book. It seems really strange that they haven’t been translated as I’m sure we are all missing out on some vital character building. I’ll try to learn the series lesson now :-(

  5. Great review! I can’t wait until the whole series is available, but I will definitely try to get a hold of this one to read! I liked the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, so I think I would like this series even better. Thanks for the review!

    1. Jackie says:

      Romance Movies, I’m sure that the success of this one will mean that the whole series will come available at some point. Well I’m keeping my fingers crossed anyway :-)

  6. Dot says:

    I got this the other day as I really liked the sound of it, I usually try to read books in the series order but I may just have to get straight into this one, Im in the mood for a good page-turning thriller!

    1. Jackie says:

      Dot, It is enjoyable, despite the references to previous books. If you don’t mind a few spoilers then I’m sure you’ll love it. Enjoy :-)

  7. Jessica says:

    There are alot of bad reviews on this on Amazon because people expected the next dragon book and then were very disappointed. Ah crimes not my bag so I think I can live without.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jessica, Yes. Poor marketing really. I can see why putting Larsson’s name on the cover would help sell copies, but if that leads to a lot of disappointed readers then I don’t think it is worth it. The two books are very different and will apeal to totally different readers.

  8. After reading your comments this book is going to have to go on my list of ones not to miss!


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