Jo Nesbo has taken over where Stieg Larsson left off in the world of Nordic suspense writers. The Snowman is a suspense and horror-filled tale of how homicide investigator, Harry Hole of the Oslo PD, manages to track down a serial killer dubbed the Snowman.
Elements of The Snowman are predictable: we know that the psychotic killer will come after Harry and his estranged spouse, Rakel, eventually. Knowing that they are on the hit list just adds to the tension and the suspense. There are plenty of twists and turns and dead ends before we reach the dramatic climax of the book. The clues lead Harry to at least two others before he finally comes across the key clue in a blood sample that is hidden in a barn where one of the killings takes place.
Harry is an almost washed up cop at the start of the book. He is almost kicked off the force by an image-conscious chief of police. Despite one or two sessions of binge drinking Harry manages to pull his life together to keep on trying to salvage his relationship with Rakel and her son, Oleg, who in many ways considers Harry his dad.
He also plods along looking for clues in the disappearances of a string of women over the years in Bergen and Oslo. The characteristic that they all have in common is that they are all mothers and there are snowmen built during the first snow of the winter that greet the families that are being targeted just before the murders. Eventually, the Snowman starts leaving clues and body parts, such as a woman’s head stuck on as the head of a snowman. Then Harry finds the body of a missing cop from Bergen who had been tracking these killings. Eventually he finds out that the woman detective his office hired was the daughter of the dead Bergen cop. Is the daughter, Katrine, the Snowman killer, or just an over-zealous cop looking for her dad’s killer?
Other connections begin to fall into place that finally lead to revealing the real killer.
The Snowman is a gritty, bloody novel and is not for the faint of heart. Those who like a classic horror story will love The Snowman.