Book Review: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

The Snowman by Jo NesboNadine of The Books of Life! read this book at the same time as me, so we decided to post our reviews on the same day and ask each other some questions about the book.

I enjoyed reading this book but for some reason, I couldn’t think of much to write about, so you’re getting a quick review this time. Below the review are the questions that Nadine asked me, and my answers to them.

My Quick Review

This is a thriller in the Inspector Harry Hole series, but it seems they can be read in any order. It was my first book by this writer.

Harry Hole is in charge of a missing woman’s case. She didn’t take anything with her when she left the house, and her mobile phone is found in the head of a snowman in the garden. Harry finds a link with other missing women cases and his team broadens their investigation. He is assisted by a young woman, Katrine Bratt, who has been transferred from Bergen to Oslo and was assigned to Harry’s team.

The murderer (it turns out the missing women are killed) always makes a snowman in the garden of the woman he abducts. It seems very hard to catch the Snowman and Harry gets it wrong a few times, but in the end, he finally catches the murderer in a dramatic turn of events.

It was a good read while I was reading it, but quite soon after reading it, I already failed to remember the plot. I can give you the bottom line (which I won’t, because of spoilers) but I could not summarize the whole book for you. Too many things happened and there were a few too many suspects.

A confession: I’ve had enough of flawed main characters, like Harry Hole. Harry is an alcoholic with an ex-wife and a son. He hasn’t got much to live for besides his work. I don’t need handsome heroes for whom everything they touch turns to gold but I’ve just read too many thrillers where the protagonist is having a non-existent or heavily flawed private life. This is not the fault of this writer or this book, but if you read thrillers regularly, you can get a bit fed-up with it.

Still, the story as such made for a good reading experience.


Nadine: Had you read any other book(s) in the Harry Hole series?

Judith: No, this was my first book by this author. I won it from Boof at The Book Whisperer who loved the book. I liked it but I didn’t think it was special. It’s just like many other good thrillers.

Nadine: Did you have the impression you missed something because you didn’t read any earlier books in the series?

Judith: No, I don’t think I missed out on anything. Maybe the characters (Harry, his ex-wife, his son, his colleagues) would be more interesting to me if I had read the other books, but I didn’t feel I missed any essential information.

Nadine: Did you have an inkling of who the snowman was before it was revealed in the book?

Judith: Not at all! I was not sure who it could be. I certainly didn’t expect that particular person to be the Snowman, he/she was never suspect (in my mind).

Nadine: Did you enjoy the book and if so, are you going to read any others from the series  or by this author?

Judith: I did enjoy the book and I might read more of the author, but it’s not high on my list. For me, this wasn’t better or worse than many other thrillers that I’ve read.

Nadine: On the cover of my edition of the book, a sticker says: ‘The Next Stieg Larsson’.  I know you have read the Millennium Trilogy and enjoyed it.  What do you think about the comparison between Nesbo and Larsson?

Judith: Nonsense! Any Scandinavian crime writer is the next Stieg Larsson if you’d ask the marketing department at any publisher! Well, no! This book is one in a series, but Larsson’s books formed a trilogy with one story line (that of Salander) taking a large part of the books (Harry Hole’s private life is much less important in The Snowman). Larsson’s books took place in Sweden, The Snowman in Norway. Larsson’s books contain more politics and a conspiracy at government level. Nothing like that in The Snowman.

[I actually read the Millenium Trilogy twice, watched all three (Swedish) films and the new (American) film. I can’t get enough of it!]

You can find Nadine’s review (and my questions to her) HERE.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book: From Boof of The Book Whisperer

I read this in: English, the original language is Norwegian

Number of pages: 576

First published: 2010 (English edition, the Norwegian edition Snømannen is from 2007)

Genre: thriller

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27 Responses to Book Review: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

  1. Pingback: Book Read! THE SNOWMAN by Jo Nesbo | The Books of Life!

  2. This was my first Harry Hole, too. Do you think we missed out on much by not reading it in the original Norwegian?

    • Leeswammes says:

      Chris, I think it doesn’t matter. I don’t think these books are literary. It’s only with literary books that I think it’s better to read a book in the original language.

  3. Suzanne says:

    Though this was also my first book in the Harry Hole series, I totally agree that it has very little in common with the Millennium trilogy. Salander is definitely a flawed heroine, but there is just something about her that I loved (even though she scared me at the same time); I can’t say that I had an opinion about Harry one way or the other, though I enjoyed the book.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Suzanne, I totally agree! Salander is a flawed heroine but that’s what book2 and book3 are about. It’s not just something to make the character more interesting, it’s an essential part of the story.

  4. Glad you enjoyed it overall, Judith. I really liked it but funnily enough I haven’t been in a rush to read any more of Nesbo’s books yet. I know what you mean about flawed lead characters too – when you read as much crime as I did last year it does become a little tiresome.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Thanks again for the book, Boof. You should definitely try some more Nesbo. I’ve read two books by Liza Marklund recently, a Swedish crime writer, and she really uses her country’s weather and places in her stories, which I like a lot. Nesbo doesn’t so much, but that is fine too, The Snowman could take place in any country where it snows sometimes. I do wonder whether his other books have a stronger sense of place.

  5. mpartyka says:

    Interesting! I actually haven’t read any of Larsson’s books – originally I heard the writing was not very strong. Do you think this is true? Did it impact your reading experience? I understand there’s a difference between award winning literature and enjoyment.

    Is it graphic?

    ps: sorry you didn’t love this one

    • Leeswammes says:

      Mari, Larsson’s writing is fine. It’s not highly literary but I definitely had no issue with the writing (and I often do). I loved the story so much, that I didn’t really notice the words, too much, either. The beginning of the first book is a little tough to get through, but after that, it just flows. Brilliant!

      It’s not very graphic but it does describe a few terrible scenes. (I tend to keep my eyes closed when reading scenes like that…. Only joking – but sometimes, I would like that to be possible). If I remember well, it’s what you understand from the story that is horrific, not so much how it’s written.

  6. parrish says:

    I know what you mean with flawed heroes, it’s almost as if there is an identikit that writers most access when writing in this genre.

    • Leeswammes says:

      It seems to be, Gary. I wish they found something else that’s interesting about the main character, a hobby or so. 🙂

      I guess the use of an anti-hero is almost compulsory with this genre.

  7. I am reading in order as much as I can (the first 2 haven’t been translated yet) and enjoyed The Redbreast as it had more about the history of Norway and its involvement in WWII. Nemesis wasn’t as strong for me but I have most the others and I know loads of people love them. I think I read enough different types of books not to be too bothered about the damaged protagonist but I know what you mean about it being overused.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Ellie, I also read a lot of different genres, but after having read a number of thrillers last year and this year, I noticed the damaged protagonist thing and I got a little irritated by it. It’s good to hear that the first book contains more about Norway – I don’t mind if there isn’t a strong sense of place (as long a the thriller part is good) but it is fun to learn more about countries that I don’t know that much about.

  8. This was my first Harry Hole book and I did enjoy it, but I also felt I missed out by not reading the others in the series first. There were a few spoilers for the previous books and I think we missed out on some of the character development. I also agree that the sterotype is a bit tired. I wish detectives were sometimes teatotal and happily married 🙂

    • Leeswammes says:

      Jackie, I of course haven’t read the earlier books so I don’t know that there are spoilers in this one, but that is a good point. As long as I don’t read my next book by Nesbo too soon, hopefully I’ll have forgotten most of the details. 🙂

  9. Tes says:

    I can see myself enjoying this story 🙂 Great review as usual 🙂

  10. RFW says:

    Read Snowman a while ago, and just finished Headhunters. Nesbo is great when you need a good scare and some gore. I also found one of his children’s books – reminds me of Roald Dahl – quirky.

  11. Pingback: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo | Book Journey

  12. Roberta says:

    Harry does not have an ex-wife and a son. Rakel is the woman he met in Redbreast (the one about the Norwegian soldiers fighting for the nazis in WW2. But yes, I do agree that the troubled soul police protagonist can be wearying. But, still,. These books are addictive. The one theme that runs through them (and Mankell as well as Larsson) is violence against women.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Thanks, Roberta. I must have understood the ex-wife thing wrong. I should read another book by Nesbo. It would be nice to see what the others are like.

  13. Sjaron Rimmell says:

    I’m afraid of your reply. I know this is picayune of me. 1. I felt I was reading a mystery , crime novel; the ends will be tied up in a bow for me. 2. Although JO Nesbo is a true writer and philosophically deep and literarily profound , I didn’t have the same mindset I would have when reading poetry or existential literature, closing with acknowledgement of philosophical void.
    3. I want to know whether Harry and Rakel and Oleg are separating , are over, no more romance between them? 4. I want to know if Rakel has permanent scars on her throat. 5. I want the three of them to go away together. 6. I ski. I’m terrified of hieghts. When I see snow underneath the gondola etc. I can handle heights–go figure. BUT I CANNOT PICTURE THE ENDING WITH TWO SETS OF HANDCUFFS , THE JUMP, THE WAY HARRY SURVIVED. I tried to draw a picture, but it seems the hands or arms would be ripped off. I admit height is scary enough I can’t seem to comprehend what happened.
    I thought THE SNOWMAN was just brilliant. I was with it every step of the way. But the ending?
    DUH? Tell it like I’m in 4th grade.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Sjaron, my reply is this: I can’t remember. I read this book in February, and must have read at least 140 books since. So please don’t blame me for not remembering the details. Well, even if it hadn’t been that long… I say, in my review: “It was a good read while I was reading it, but quite soon after reading it, I already failed to remember the plot.”

  14. This was my first by Nesbo too. I found Harry to be a bit crude and don’t think I enjoyed this one as much as you did although I did enjoy the writing very much and will probably try Nesbo again some day.

  15. Pingback: The Snowman by Jo Nesbø |

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