Women are disappearing. In their place there are snowmen. Crazy? Sure. Every murderer and rapist that the detective Harry Hole, in a series of books about him, has ever caught are like that. Deranged. Unpredictable. They have motivations that would never occur to the common man … and that is why an ordinary reader can follow with excitement the plot of the book without knowing or suspecting from the middle who the offender is. Jo Nesbo is also unquestionably a master of unexpected twists. In the course of the novel he introduces readers several potential perpetrators.

The story contains different suspects, colourful descriptions and false leads, which are very successfully posed as the only right ones. Jo Nesbo doesn´t disappoint with the denouement. The ending makes sense and is surprising. The culprits are characters that make readers think they could easily come across someone so psychologically deformed and at the same time so terribly plain.  To come across him or her in their everyday lives, which they believe could never be of interested of anyone else.

“The Snowman” offers all this. This time the denouement is even more chilling than in his previous stories. Readers will not be disappointed. I certainly wasn´t. I was expecting a high quality story. So – maybe – I was more curious about something else entirely. In a thriller? About something other than the story? Is it possible? Yes, it is, at least in this case.

I was curious about Harry Hole. About where the character was going in this novel. About whether we could expect the same Harry we remember from the past, and indeed before the last novel, or a Harry who had undergone further development.

Harry Hole isn´t your typical detective. He is contradictory. He isn´t Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple or Phillip Marlowe, who are always the same. Their characters never develop. They don´t live their personal dramas and they don´t ask questions about the meaning of their work, or even about the meaning of their existence. Harry Hole does.

From the very beginning, the cases he takes on, whether directly or indirectly, affect his private life. He deals with his alcoholism, his ill-fated love for Rachel and her son, and his relationship with his profession, with “ramshackle” police machine that is an ideal spawn for corruption, even where Harry himself wouldn´t  expect to find it .

He has to deal with the fact that he revealed the corruption of his closest associates and he can´t fail to notice that his work is destroying his relationships and himself. All this with the help a lot of alcohol.

Having read the last Harry Hole book, I was curious to see how Harry develops in “The Snowman”. Or if he did. Would he remain the eternal messed up hero who drinks occasionally and sometimes not at all? Would he start down the path of the “unchanging” detective, like those I mentioned above? In my opinion, he was on his way.

I was pleased to find that Harry is continuing to develop. He sorts out his relationship with Rachel, he continues to clarifying his relationship with his work, with the police itself. He´s even more aware of exactly what it gives him and what it takes away. So at the end of “The Snowman” readers again feel they´re bidding farewell to a different Harry from the one they met at the beginning. That this new Harry will sooner or later take another step which will shake up his fate even more dramatically than all the previous ones.


The Snowman (in Czech published 11/10/2012 at Kniha Zlín)

Review: Lic. Jindřiška Mendozová

Original text is in Czech

First from Harry Hole reviews





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