Do you want to build a snowman?

After reading Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman I’d rather not if it’s all the same. Snowmen are now up there with clowns and those giants in Attack on Titan in terms of things that freak me out.

Harry Hole our plucky Norwegian police inspector is still flirting dangerously with alcohol and his on-and-off-and-on-again lady friend Rakel while still managing to solve Norway’s first serial killer case. He’s working out a lot more, has lost a lot of weight, feeling a bit older, but manages to keep his dark dog demons at bay and as a result makes a lot less mistakes than he has done in previous books.

As usual there’s a strong central idea powering Nesbo’s book and this time it is the statistic that 20% of children in Norway have secret fathers who aren’t listed on the birth certificate, mostly as a result of extra-marital affairs. This can be detected when the father has hereditary disease that is guaranteed to be passed on to their children. The relationships between father and son, father and ‘cuckoo’, Harry and Oleg, Harry and Rakel, are integrated into the search for the killer.

A veritable school of red herrings swim seductively through this book, but when you’ve got two hundred odd pages and the police chief announces to the public that the case is solved, you know that Hole is going to find a problem with the arrest, usually to the embarrassment of his superiors in the police force. As a regular reader of Nesbo it’s something I’ve come to expect and it is, if I’m to be frank, a plot mechanism that is in danger of wearing thin.

The violence is once again graphic in places and the sex is too for that matter. Not that I mind. I find it refreshing that Nesbo doesn’t shy away from describing the darker aspects of human nature.

The business with the snowman is a bit silly in places and maybe a little overcooked, but I remember the buzz about this book at work a few years ago and have been keen to read it since then. I haven’t been disappointed. It is one of his best so far.

It’s a relatively quick read even at 550 pages because of Nesbo’s quick pacing which urges the reader to get those pages turned. For me it also seemed to have a simpler plot than some of his other books, or maybe I have just got used to following all the multiple threads that Nesbo weaves together to form his narrative tapestries.

Here’s a song to go with the book. I think you know the tune:

The Snowman:

Harry?

(Knocking: Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock)

Do you want to build a snowman?

Come to Oslo and play

I will kill every whore

Blood on the floor

Before ice melts away

We’ve never been best buddies

But that could change

I wish I could tell you why

Why I want to build a snowman;

It really has to be a snowman.

Harry:

I’ll find you, Snowman

 

The Snowman:

Maybe, bye…

(Knocking)

Do you wanna build a snowman?

Or wipe the mould from off the walls

I think the hot loop is overdue

I’ve started talking to

the pictures of the whores!

(Hang in there, Rakel!)

It gets a little lonely

All these empty years…

Just watching the victims add up.

The Snowman:

(Calling)

Harry?

I know you’re on to me,

People are asking where you’ve been

They say “at the bar”, and I’m calling you

Rakel’s waiting for you, loop around her chin

She only has minutes

It’s just her and you

What are you gonna do?

Do you want to catch the Snowman?

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