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Sonoma County Gazette
The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Book Review - "The Snowman" by Jo Nesbo

Jun 26, 2017
by Diane McCurdy, Film and Book Reviews


The Snowman is no breezy summer read. It is dense, labyrinthine, and often grotesque. Jo Nesbo, the author, is a good writer but so complex that the reader can become weary. When reading just for pleasure I don't want to have to apply a textbook type of energy to the printed page. If you are looking for a quickie beach read, this isn't it. I appreciated the intricacies of the plot but there are so many characters, places and institutions with unfamiliar Norwegian names that one can be overwhelmed. I was relieved when I closed the last, the 550th page. Nesbo is often compared to fellow Scandinavian, Steig Larsson, author of the Millennium series the most well known of which is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I prefer Larsson's style.

The Snowman is a macabre thriller. Anti-hero Harry Hole has several tragic flaws not the least of which is a predilection for alcohol.  In Oslo , he is on the trail of a serial killer whose trade mark is leaving some kind of snowman at the scene of the crime. There is no lack of snow in Norway. All the victims are women. All have children. All have deep, dark secrets. What is the connection that strings them together? The most tantalizing plot element is how Hole goes about his research to find the missing link. It involves subterfuge and the study of exotic disease. Along the way the reader is lead down several dead end streets where it appears the killer has been identified. But Hole always has doubts and keeps investigating. Suspense builds as he assembles the pieces of the puzzle and puts them together.

Nesbo has written 10 crime novels and his body of work has generated a huge fan base. Twenty three million copies of his books have been sold and they have been translated into 50 languages. He is somewhat of a Renaissance man. A musician and songwriter, he is a member of a rock band and he is a rock climber. He had been a stock broker and a financial analyst when he gave it all up and fleshed out a Harry Hole adventure when he was on an adventure of his own. Hole came to life on a laptop in a plane on Nesbo's way to Australia.

Of course, the film version was inevitable. It will premiere this fall. Then, another inevitability will occur, the book will zoom up again on the best-seller lists. The movies stars Michael Fassbender as the detective. Fassbender has acquitted himself well in such features as The X Men, Twelve Years a Slave and Macbeth. He is a good choice if he can emanate the slightly debauched charisma of Hole. He will be supported by Val Kilmer and Chloe Sevigny. It will be interesting to see what the screenwriter does with the wealth of subplots, characters and flashbacks. I don't envy his job.


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