A woman goes missing. A mother. The snowman on their front lawn is wearing her scarf. It wasn’t wearing it earlier. Nor did they build it. Then another woman goes missing. Another mother. Another snowman. It takes Harry and his team at Oslo Police to notice the pattern, a pattern that goes back longer than they first expected.
No spoilers here…
This was my first step into the Harry Hole thrillers by Jo Nesbo and I have to say I actually very much enjoyed it. The Snowman is the seventh Harry Hole novel, and the reason I started here was purely because I was enticed by the trailer for the film – love a bit of Fassbender! But more on the film later…
In terms of my experience of this novel, first of all I should say that it did not cumber me having not read any of the other books in the series. Yes, there are mentions of previous cases, previous colleagues and their fates… so, technically spoilers… but to be honest, I was so wrapped up with the current case and colleagues, that it didn’t bother me. They were only small pieces of world-building really, the story didn’t dwell on these facts. It was nice to hear some backstory, without being weighed-down by it.
The narrative intrigued me. Right the way through. I do love a bit of Crime at Nine, and I am no stranger to the crime/thriller novel, and I found the case of The Snowman a very interesting one. Women going missing, going back many years, no bodies turning up so the missing-persons cases remain open – and nobody till now noticed that a snowman was present at all of the abduction sites. Loved that. And I have to say that there are some properly gruesome images in this novel – some of the murders, and the states in which the bodies are discovered are quite yucky.
I personally struggled ever so slightly with some of the character and place names – of course this is my ignorant English-speaking issue. And there are a lot of characters in this book, not all of them as simple as Harry, Oleg or Mathias. Sometimes, I confess, when it came to certain place-names I sort of glossed over how to say them – I knew where I was, I just knew I couldn’t say it. But it didn’t bother me, though it might bother you.
There are some generally interesting sub-plots too, which were just as entertaining to read – and when everything is tied together, I couldn’t put it down. Right at the end of this story, it becomes very personal to Harry – incredibly tense!! I was on the edge of my seat for those final chapters. I now wish to read more of Harry Hole – so I’m going to!
So once the book was read, I settled down to watch the movie. Sigh. It was only ok. I appreciated the scenery – some of the locations used are fantastic – and the casting of Fassbender was awesome. He did a really good job with what he had to work with. Hole is still an alcoholic with a failed relationship and family in tow, but the sub-plots that I mentioned earlier, which in the book had a very large impact on the final outcome, were either watered-down, or absent completely! I could forgive certain things being emitted due to timing etc; but the big showdown at the end of the book is changed entirely and that was a bad, bad, bad decision. I could talk about other bad decisions here, but I won’t.
This book is actually very enjoyable. If you like a bit of crime then I do recommend it. It would work great as a TV show – a really gritty one.