Jo Nesbø

Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett

Harvill Secker, Hardback, £12.99,

Release: March 3rd 2010

Reviewed by Amy Myers

  Amy Myers worked is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring the Victorian chef sleuth Auguste Didier, she is currently mid- series with Marsh & Daughter, set in today's Kent. Her new series features a Victorian chimney sweep, Tom Wasp, who has hitherto appeared in short stories  

Jo Nesbø and his Norwegian series featuring Oslo Detective Harry Hole have catapulted into public acclaim and the best-seller lists over the past few years. The Snowman is the fifth in the series to be published in the UK, the first being The Devil’s Star in 2005.

The Snowman is a terrific read. Or should the word be terrifying? Both are true. Trying to sum up what makes Harry Hole different from most series police detectives is hard, because to describe him as a flawed cop with alcohol problems, fiercely independent, and prepared to go the whole way to follow his own route on his cases makes him sound just one in a long familiar line. Which he isn’t.  He stands out from the crowd: tough, thoughtful, extroverted, introverted – he’s a paradox who keeps the reader glued to from page 1 to the concluding page 454. But that’s a paradox too, since glued to the page doesn’t help in a novel like this where the pace and page-turning never let up.

Jo Nesbø is also somewhat of a paradox in himself: he’s a musician and songwriter for the Norwegian band Di Derre; he writes children’s books – and he writes novels like The Snowman, which are definitely not for children.

In The Snowman young married women have disappeared in Norway over the years, each regarded as a separate case. But Harry Hole has hunted down a serial killer before, and recognises the pattern. The difference in this case is that Harry begins to realise that he himself is a target for the Snowman. Each time he draws near to the Snowman however, the killer melts away to appear in ever more frightening and murderous form.

Beautifully written, deftly structured and intricately plotted, The Snowman is unforgettable. The characters ring true, and the solution both satisfies and leaves one wanting to read what happens next to Harry Hole.

Translations can make for tricky reading. Not this one. It flows elegantly and vividly so that Jo Nesbø’s first class novel brings Harry Hole and the snows of Norway to life as if you were right on the case with him. Only you might not want to be – you might meet the Snowman yourself!






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