Monday, 21 October 2013

The Snowman

by Jo Nesbø
Harry Hole #7
Vintage Canada (4 janvier 2011)
464 pages - 19.95 $

After reading the Leopard, I bought this book, because it's often cited as one of the best of Jo Nesbø and more importantly, I wanted to know why Harry Hole was in such a bad shape and it seemed it was due to the Snowman ...


The night the first snow falls a young boy wakes to find his mother gone. He walks through the silent house, but finds only wet footprints on the stairs. In the garden looms a solitary figure: a snowman bathed in cold moonlight, its black eyes glaring up at the bedroom windows. Round its neck is his mother's pink scarf. Inspector Harry Hole is convinced there is a link between the disappearance and a menacing letter he received some months earlier. As Harry and his team delve into unsolved case files, they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years. When a second woman disappears Harry's suspicions are confirmed: he is a pawn in a deadly game. For the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his turf, a killer who will drive him to the brink of insanity.

What I think of it

In that book Harry's professional and personal relationships mingle and meet and you get to know better the different characters, which makes us closer to the protagonists and gives us the impression of being part of the team. I met Harry Hole again with pleasure. He's in a better state than in The Leopard (which was written after The Snowman), but as I haven't read them in the order... It's in this book that I knew the extent of the horror experienced by Harry and why he's hurting so much in the future. In any case, I enjoyed discovering more about Harry 's relationship with his colleagues who regularly mock his propensity to see a serial killer behind every dog run. I made acquaintance with Rakel - and discovered their history - and Oleg who worships Harry.

Here, no action at all costs, no chases in each chapter, but tension rises gradually. We have a sense of failure and a feeling of the horror to come. Harry must investigate the murders of the past in connection with the disappearances of the present time and it takes time. Time during which the danger increases and we feel that something bad is coming but the killer seems quite too smart for Harry and, indeed, he's on the verge of not succeeding. The atmosphere is cold as can be - probably because it's about the first snow (perhaps to read it in July would not have the same impact!) - and adds to the tension and anxiety. As to discover the culprit... beware the obvious!

Harry's struggle not to drink, his efforts and the anger he feels all the time are obviously recurring in the series, but this is what makes him an endearing character (yes, cliché die hard in thrillers!). However, even if you can read the books by itself because it does not interfere with the story, there are several references in the books to what happened before. It seems to me that it's best to read them in order, especially as Harry's state of mind is linked with what he has experienced and therefore what happened in the previous books.

In a nutshell

Second book I've read by Jo Nesbø and I'm sold! He has a style of his own, where the horror of the crimes, the anxiety associated with the investigation and the atmosphere will guarantee you cold chills! One thing is certain, you will not see snowmen in the same way... 4/5 for this volume .

My thought on closing the book : Poor Harry, he really caught hell!

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