Book Review: The Snowman

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

The blurb: The night the first snow falls a young boy wakes to find his mother gone. He walks through the silent house, but finds only wet footprints on the stairs. In the garden looms a solitary figure: a snowman bathed in cold moonlight, its black eyes glaring up at the bedroom windows. Round its neck is his mother’s pink scarf.

Inspector Harry Hole is convinced there is a link between the disappearance and a menacing letter he received some months earlier. As Harry and his team delve into unsolved case files, they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years. When a second woman disappears Harry’s suspicions are confirmed: he is a pawn in a deadly game. For the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his turf, a killer who will drive him to the brink of insanity.

My review: I’ve been meaning to dip into crime in translation for a while – there seems to be a lot out there and its hard to know which is a good one. The Snowman appealed because of the cover, its very dramatic and grabs your attention by the throat.

The book though, I have to be honest, not one of my favourites. I don’t think I’ll be revisiting Jo Nesbo again. I almost immediately, didn’t get on with it. The translation seemed clunky, I am sure there is a very fine line between losing the cultural richness of a book that’s been translated and making it understandable to a foreign audience and I think this book failed in that respect. I was constantly confused by names, places, TV show references, the list is endless.

My second problem with it was the sheer number of red herrings. To my mind there was a farcical amount of suspects, each perfectly planned to be the murderer then whipped away at the last minute. Of course, red herrings in a crime book are to be expected but it was twistier than a very twisty thing and lost my interest at the twenty-fifth suspect! Because of this when the real murderer was revealed it had a ‘tacked on’ feeling.

The best part of this book is Detective Harry Hole (slightly unfortunate name). I loved him and he’s the reason I finished this monster. A brilliantly well-written anti-hero that I immediately warmed to. Perhaps in his other outings the package does him justice. Not one for me.

5 out of 10 stars *****

BUY ME! The Snowman: A Harry Hole thriller

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