The Snowman by Jo Nesbø
464 pages | Published March 16th, 2010
Rating: 5/5 stars
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.
This book was my choice for the BookBum Club theme of July: that is SO last year (read a book you meant to read in 2017) 📖
Man, it took me a while to finally pick this one up! I was considering reading all of the books in the series – until I found out that this one is the seventh installment… Still, I think I should have started from the beginning, but let’s not dwell on that.
THE SNOWMAN is told in two different times: 1980 and 2004. Most of the action, however, takes place in 2004. In it, we follow detective Harry Hole, the protagonist in this (homonymous) crime series, as he tries to solve the case of someone’s disappearance. As the investigation progresses, Hole begins to realize this case might not be as simple as he initially thought — especially after receiving that damned letter.
Yet another amazing Nordic Noir read, this time by a new author to me. I’ve been wanting to read Jo Nesbø’s books for a while, especially since I first found out that THE SNOWMAN would become a movie, but only now got around to finally reading it — which I am so thankful for!
Evil is evil, mental illness or no. We’re all more or less disposed to evil actions, but our disposition cannot exonerate us. For heaven’s sake, we’re all sick with personality disorders. And it’s our actions which define how sick we are.
This book is freaking genius, okay? Everything about it is so amazing and addictive. I could not put this book down and it just wouldn’t leave my mind. I kept coming up with different theories regarding The Snowman’s identity. Granted, I did not see the real answer coming. Nesbø is a mastermind, I’m telling you. Even when you think you’ve finally figured it out, something else is thrown at you — something very, very little that you probably didn’t look into.
Now that’s how you keep me hooked. Plot-wise, this is one of the best crime books I’ve laid my eyes upon. The details Nesbø comes up with — and the way they are all tied together — is absolutely genius and mind-blowing. The twists and turns gripped me in such a way that I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Also, the fact that he turned something as mundane as a snowman into this dreadful and terrifying thing has got to keep some people awake at night… thank God there is no snow in Lisbon!!
Soon the first snow will come. And then he will appear again. The snowman. And when the snow has gone, he will have taken someone else. What you should ask yourself is this: ‘Who made the snowman? who makes snowmen? who gave birth to the Murri? For the snowman doesn’t know.’
Harry’s character is fascinating. His brain and the way it works was one of the best parts of the book, for sure. He’s the typical detective figure — drunk, dark past, obsessed with his job, is incapable of being in a relationship because everything is just complicated. However, there’s something about him that still draws you in, even though he’s a mess. He might be a rude, drunk asshole, but he is brilliant in what he does and you love him nonetheless. I love me a messed up character, can you tell?
As for the other characters, I thought they were just as well-written. Not as developed as the main character, obviously, but Nesbø manages to really round out all of his characters, and each of them is relevant in their own way and, ultimately, a key to the case-solving.
The serial killer Nesbø creates in THE SNOWMAN is absorbingly well-built. Their backstory, their behavior, the way they grew to be is just so well-thought-out and masterfully written. Same goes for their methods of operating without leaving a single trace. A truly fascinating figure that has kept me up at night, when the silence is deafening and your mind transforms every little noise into a serial killer that is coming for you.
Moments after the freezer broke open the body fell forward and the forehead hit the edge of the door, causing crystals to fall from the face and shower the cellar floor. That was how Harry could tell it was [character’s name] grinning at them. However, the grin was not formed by the mouth, which was sewn up with coarse, hemp-like thread zigzagging in and out of the lips. The grin traversed the chin and arced up to the cheeks and was drawn with a line of black nails that could only have been hammered in. What caught Harry’s attention was the nose. He forced down the rising bile out of sheer defiance. The nasal bone and cartilage would have been removed first. The cold had sucked all the colour from the carrot. The snowman was complete.
Regarding Nesbø’s writing, one thing I want to note is how cinematic it is. I could visualize everything he wrote — especially the disturbing scenes, unfortunately! Reading this book was like watching NCIS. It is not a very fast-paced read, but it’s not slow either – a good, balanced narrative, I would say. Another thing I noticed was that, at a certain point, Nesbø does something that we usually see in movies or TV shows: he ends a scene with a line, a question, and the next scene begins with the same (or a very similar) line, so it seems like they’re connected, but they’re completely different circumstances. I really enjoyed that little wordplay!
Oh!! And one of the scariest things to me is the classic moment when someone realizes there are footsteps in the snow, towards their house, but none going back… that gives me the chills every time, and it happens in THE SNOWMAN. The atmosphere is very creepy, cold, and wet. Creepy because, well, it’s about the hunt for a serial killer. Cold because of the snow. Wet because of when it melts. Like I said, Nesbø’s writing is rather cinematic, which is then translated into physical feelings and/or reactions – mainly shudders and goosebumps.
Her gaze swept from the gate to the garage, unsure of what it was she was looking for. Then it stopped. She gave a gasp of surprise and terror. Don’t start this again, she told herself. It must have been [character name]. He’s got jet lag, hasn’t been able to sleep and has gone out. The footprints went from the gate to right under the window where she was standing. Like a line of black dots in the thin coating of snow. A dramatic pause in the next.
There were no footprints leading back.
Overall, THE SNOWMAN is an unputdownable, uneasy story with a clever plot, a chilling atmosphere and some of the best case-solving I’ve read lately. I can’t wait to pick up his other books!!
What is worse? Taking the life of a person who wants to live or taking death from a person who wants to die?
I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on The Snowman and if you’d like, check out my other book reviews!
Firstly, I didn’t like the actors they picked for the characters – especially Harry. In my mind, Harry looks a bit like Jo Nesbø himself, skinny and blond, as he is described to be in the book. He’s a blond Norwegian, yet they managed to cast a German-looking brunet? What even…
They also took out a ton of the best parts. The clever stuff the serial killer pulled in the book? Forget half of it, it’s not even mentioned! Ugh, they totally ruined the best parts and I loathe them for it.
Had I watched it without reading the book, I probably would have given it 3 stars. It’s not a horrible thriller, but it is a despicable adaptation of the book, and that’s what I’m here to talk about.
Verdict: do not watch this movie if you’ve read the book, it’s a total let-down…
Have you read and/or watched The Snowman? Let me know what you thought in the comments!
Thank you so much for reading,
I’ll see you in my next post ♡