Monday, June 20, 2011

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø

If you liked Stieg Larsson (one of my favorites), Henning Mankell (the PBS Mystery TV Series is outstanding) or Roslund and Hellstrom (Box 21 and Three Seconds), you will love Jo Nesbø .  His first US book, The Snowman, is a classic Scandinavian thriller: well-plotted, dark and fast-paced with political tones.  In short, it is a terrific book.

The Snowman features Nesbø's series detective, Harry Hole.  The story opens when an unexpected snowman appears outside a family home, which coincides with the disappearance of the mother.  As Hole and his team search for clues, new victims are served up.  Hole recently completed a course of study and serial killers and is certain he is facing one.  Others on the force think he is willing a conclusion.  Hole is plagued by personal flaws (alcoholism, difficulties with relationships) that Nesbø explores and exploits.  To avoid any spoilers, I am going to avoid more of a plot summary.

The characters are well developed.  Even more important for a book of this genre, the plot, twists, tension and timing  are excellent.  Nesbø tosses in several unexpected, but plausible, twists and turns that keep you engaged.  The Snowman is intricately plotted.

Booksellers and publishers are trying to ride the popularity of the The Millennium Trilogy series by labeling any quality Scandinavian writer as the next Stieg Larsson.  I don't know if this is the next big thing and I don't know if and when we'll see the next Stieg Larsson book (excellent NYT Magazine article here), read the Snowman.  It is a great summer read.

A book/movie trailer:

Nesbø talks about the book:

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