Friday, 31 May 2019

Book review : The Snowman - Jo Nesbo

I'm a huge crime fiction fan so I've heard a lot about Scandi-writer Jo Nesbo over the past few years. He's been labelled as one of the classic authors in the genre - in fact, this actually put me off reading him because quite often, the hype seems over-rated. However, when I spotted a copy of The Snowman in the clearout section at WH Smiths for the bargain basement price of £1, I couldn't resist !

The book is the seventh title in the Harry Hole series, but it can be enjoyed perfectly well on its own. Harry is the classic imperfect detective with a multitude of personal faults and past failures but an even longer list of professional triumphs. He reminded me very much of other similar characters, but I've just checked and this is indeed the first Jo Nesbo title that I've read. I ended up with nothing but a vague idea of who Harry Hole is - there are no real details of physical description, motivation, strengths and weaknesses - but I guess that by book 7, this has already been covered.

The opening chapter is set in 1980 and shows a mum leaving her son in the car while she pops off for a final rendez vous with her lover. Fast forward twenty five years and Harry Hole is called in to investigate the case of a mother who has gone missing. There are no witnesses - just a snowman in the garden wearing her scarf.

As Harry starts dipping into past cases, he discovers that a large number of wives and mothers have disappeared over recent years. Could he be looking for Norway's first ever serial killer? Old cases are dug up, new victims are discovered and Harry and his team uncover a number of suspects. Unfortunately they are all red herrings though and the pressure mounts at work. Finally, Harry manages to fit all the clues together and discovers that nothing is as it first seemed. He is determined to follow this case through to the end, whatever the cost.

It's an interesting and tense read, which skillfully takes you down numerous wrong turns in the investigation. I was convinced that Harry had found the murderer on several occasions and didn't see where it was actually going until the final chapters. 

There were a few things that I would have liked to follow up a bit more, such as Harry's relationships with his wife and step-son, but I'm sure everything is explained in the previous books. I'm intrigued to see how things carry on too, as there are various tensions that are left unresolved, particularly in matters of the heart.

I really enjoyed it and will definitely be looking out for further books from the series.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £7.99

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Film Tie-In edition (5 Oct. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781784704759
  • ISBN-13: 978-1784704759
  • ASIN: 178470475X
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.4 x 19.8 cm


  1. I think this was the first Nesbo's book that I've read as well. I remember it as super creepy, and some of the scenes haunt you for a long time.

    1. Yes, I'm glad it's not the winter - I'd be looking suspiciously at all the snowmen ! lol

  2. This sounds like a great read. I love scandi noir TV shows so I'm sure I'd enjoy this book. Fantastic that you got it for only £1, a real bargain.

    1. Definitely - can't go wrong at that price ! :)

  3. It was the first HH book I read too and I thoroughly enjoyed it as a stand alone. I Thought it was much better than the film and gave a lot more context

    1. Did you go back and read the others? I'm very tempted !

  4. A Jo Nesbo book for a £1.00? Wow! Great find. Sounds really creepy - and good.


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