Saturday, March 10, 2012

Book Review: The Snowman by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett

I don't usually read mysteries, certainly not gory ones, but I heard great things about this book, and I ran across a free copy at a WNBA Book Swap night. Normally I wouldn't have read it so fast (it's only been in my house for 2 months!) but another WNBA member also wanted it and she loves mysteries so I felt guilty that I had snagged it first. I read it fast so I could pass it along to her.

Wow, I am so glad I did! And I'm also really glad I waited until the chance of snow was well past or that would have freaked me out. Detective Harry Hole, a renowned expert on serial killers (even though Denmark has never had one) is called to work on what could be the first Danish case. Women have been disappearing but since they were so far apart in both time and place around the country, no one noticed the pattern for many years. But the latest case, in Oslo, left a very strange and temporary clue - a creepy snowman wearing the missing woman's scarf, looking at the house.

Hole's team is understaffed and on a tight schedule. Not only did his boss only give them a few weeks to work the case, but other women have started disappearing, so it seems as if the killer (assuming that's what he is as they can't find the bodies) is escalating.

Normally I would hate to start with the 7th book in a series but all of the Harry Hole books have been published in the US. While there were some obvious allusions to backstory that wasn't explained, they didn't hurt my enjoyment of the book at all. The book was quite suspenseful and creepy. One day I was reading with my back to a sliding glass door after dark and I just got too freaked out and had to stop.

About halfway through the book, I figured out who the bad guy was. But this wasn't a bad thing. Nesbø gave just the right amount of clues so it wasn't a shock or out of the blue when it was revealed. Also he planted enough red herrings that I second-guessed myself more than once. This book was very smart. It really made me think, keeping up with the twists and turns and clues and suspects.

If you (like me!) only read one mystery a year, this is the one to pick up! Nesbø won't disappoint you at all. The book is atmospheric, tense, and just plain scary. I loved it!

I got this book free at a book swap.


Unknown said...

I also read only one Harry Hole novel (The Devil's Star http://manoflabook.com/wp/?p=991 and enjoyed it as well. I have a few of Nesbø's books on the shelf as well.

Chelle said...

I've seen this book around but never knew what it was about. I want to check it and the series out now!

Ellie said...

I love that cover, mine's got some random woman on it.