Snowman by Jo Nesbo

The Snowman

Harry Hole #7

Paperback: 512 pages
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Knopf and Vintage Books
ISBN: 9780307742995

One night, after the first snowfall of the year, a boy named Jonas wakes up and discovers that his mother has disappeared. Only one trace of her remains: a pink scarf, his Christmas gift to her, now worn by the snowman that inexplicably appeared in their yard earlier that day. Inspector Harry Hole suspects a link between the missing woman and a suspicious letter he’s received. The case deepens when a pattern emerges: over the past decade, eleven women have vanished—all on the day of the first snow. But this is a killer who makes his own rules . . . and he’ll break his pattern just to keep the game interesting, as he draws Harry ever closer into his twisted web. With brilliantly realized characters and hair-raising suspense, international bestselling author Jo Nesbø presents his most chilling case yet—one that will test Harry Hole to the very limits of his sanity.

“[The Snowman] is a book as fathomless as the snow, as luminous and abstract as Beethoven’s Late String Quartets and a very jarring and unique literary experience. It exists on a recognizable plane of propulsive energy undercut with the irony that moulds all kind of fiction, including my own.”
-James Ellroy

The Snowman is a superb thriller. Jo Nesbø is astonishingly good; he knows how to grab you, by the throat and by the heart.”
-Jeff Abbott

“Jo Nesbø is my new favorite thriller writer and Harry Hole my new hero.”
—Michael Connelly

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo is relentless. His terrifying transformation of a childhood icon permeated my sleep. I started Redbreast but it was too much. I gave it to my guitarist Lenny Kaye, and he was hooked. Now my band is reading Nesbo, but I am too petrified to crack open the Phantom….”
—Patti Smith

“Fiendishly complex and terrifically entertaining.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“If you don’t know Nesbø, it’s time to get with it.”
—USA Today

“Nesbø explores the darkest criminal minds with grim delight and puts his killers where you least expect to find them. . . . His novels are maddeningly addictive.”
—Vanity Fair

“A superb thriller—smart, stylish, beautifully paced and meticulously plotted.”

The Snowman is strung together with great care, playful in certain stretches, grisly in others, all of it highly readable.”

“The writer most likely to take the ice-cold crown in the critically acclaimed—and now bestselling—category of Nordic noir.”
—Los Angeles Times

The Snowman was awarded The Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize 2007 for Best Novel of the Year and with The Norwegian Book Club Prize (Den norske leserprisen) 2007 for Best Novel of the Year.

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“The idea for the book came while brainstorming the title for a film some people I knew were making. My suggestion was The Snowman, but it was rejected. Fair enough as there wasn’t a snowman in the film. But this started me thinking about a snowman standing in the garden of a private house and a mother coming home and praising her son and husband for the wonderful snowman they had made. The son and the husband look at her in surprise and tell her they haven’t made any snowman…”

US book trailer for The Snowman

UK book trailer for The Snowman

Jo speaks about The Snowman

“Nesbø’s pace is unerring, and the way he builds up suspense will incite Pavlovian page-turning.”
Time Out New York (US)

“In The Snowman, Nesbo puts those engineering skills to use in a fiendishly complex and terrifically entertaining plot. /…/ Nesbo has a horrormeister’s flair for transforming natural scenes into ominous situations.
New York Times (US)

“Snowmen are jolly creatures, right? They stand in front of houses wearing gumdrop grins and colorful scarves. But, what if the snowman were turned around, so that, instead of facing the street, it was staring at your house? All of a sudden, the ordinary becomes ominous. /…/ Nesbø is rightly celebrated as Norway’s most acclaimed thriller writer. (He won the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime, an honor also bestowed on Larsson and fellow Swede Henning Mankell) /…/ What [Harry Hole] discovers will forever change your attitude towards Frosty and his kin. The Snowman is a standout thriller, capable of disturbing your slumbers after the first thaw.”

“Nesbø also has no truck with the idea that hellish deeds are susceptible to easy psychological explanations. Evil, at root, is a mystery. /…/ The real treat in a Nesbø novel is the hero, Oslo Police Inspector Harry Hole /…/ Nesbø’s other hallmark is the acerbic fun he has attacking Norway’s insecurities and pretensions, often by comparisons with the United States.”
Philadelphia Inquirer (US)

“Fans of Stieg Larsson, rejoice: A serial killer called the Snowman is stalking innocent mothers and wives in Norway. And Nesbo’s anti-hero cop, Harry Hole, is on the case — with a feisty new female partner. But will this mysterious killer, named for the snowy calling card he leaves, drive Hole, whose background includes a year-long serial-killer class with the FBI in Chicago, to the brink? Well, without spoiling the drama, we can only say things will get cold and dark.”
New York Post (US)

“Maddeningly addictive… plotted with Larsson-like ingenuity”
Vanity Fair (US)

“The [crime fiction] field is crowded with worthies such as Karin Fossum and Håkan Nesser, but Nesbo’s books have a serious, socially significant heft, as well as a confident (even cocky) narrative stride that is unmatched. /…/ These aren’t mere investigatory trifles to be enjoyed and forgotten; their unnerving horrors linger.
Richmond Times-Dispatch (US)

“This is reading as you experienced it in childhood, without any gap between eye and mind, but with the added pleasures that adult plots and adult characters can bring. /…/ Character is important and largely credible in the Nesbø books, and that is part of what makes them consistently appealing. But it is their plots – brilliantly conceived, carefully worked out, and complicatedly satisfying – that finally make them un-put-downable. /…/ Nesbø’s talent for complex, propulsive plotting reaches its pinnacle in this volume: I actually had to get out of bed in the middle of the night to finish reading it, because thinking about its plot strands made me hopelessly insomniac.
Slate (US)

“Have you ever received an electric shock from the mere act of picking up a book? I have. It happened with No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, and now again with The Snowman… It’s supercharged from beginning to end. /…/ Still, whether you are familiar with [Harry] Hole or not, you will be mesmerized by this novel. /…/ Hole does not lack for suspects. And let me tell you, as interesting a dark hero as he may be, the villains here, even the innocent ones, are as unforgettable as any you will encounter in literature this year. (US)

*starred review*
“[Nesbø’s] latest thriller reads like a symphony, from the thundering first chords that pull the reader into a magical world through the delicately enticing development in which motifs and story strands are woven together leading to a pounding, furious conclusion. /…/ Nesbø is being hailed as the next Stieg Larsson or Henning Mankell; this work is being compared to Peter Høeg’s Smilla’s Sense Of Snow, among others. Apt comparisons, but they don’t go far enough. This is simply the best detective novel this reviewer has read in years.”
Library Journal (US)

*starred review*
“This is among the best entries in Nesbo’s consistently superior series. He layers the suspense skillfully, deftly mixing scenes from the investigation with glimpses into Harry’s always compelling personal life. Series readers will be pleased that Harry maintains a friendly relationship with Rakel and her son, Oleg. The Snowman is a great place for new readers to meet Norway’s maverick detective.”
Booklist (US)

Erica Jong meets Stephen King meets, yes, Stieg Larsson in this superb thriller, the eighth by Norwegian mystery writer Nesbø. /…/ Nesbø is to be complimented: It’s one of the creepiest opening scenes in recent memory… /…/ …and the story resolves with a nice edgy twist that would do Larsson proud. Harry [Hole] is pleasingly human, with a capacity for hard, grueling work being one of his best features, and the rest of the characters say and do believable things, the murderous snowman notwithstanding. The Norwegian settings are sometimes exotic, sometimes just grimy—who knew that Oslo had a high-crime area?—but always appropriate to the story, which unfolds at just the right pace.
The smart, suspenseful cat-and-mouse game will remind some readers of Erik Skjoldbjærg’s 1997 film Insomnia—and that’s high praise indeed.”
Kirkus Reviews (US)

“Nesbø breathes new life into the serial killer subgenre, giving it a Norwegian twist and never losing his laconic hero in the process.”
Publishers Weekly (US)

“[Nesbø's] latest, The Snowman, is a superb thriller – smart, stylish, beautifully paced and meticulously plotted. /…/ Nesbø is such an insightful portraitist that Hole and all the secondary characters are convincing at just about every bloody turn. /…/ Ultimately, though, what sets Nesbø apart is his ability to keep the pages turning – and there are almost 400 of them – with such intellectual dexterity.”
Newsday (US)

The Snowman is strung together with great care, playful in certain stretches, grisly in others, all of it highly readable.
Newsweek (US)

“If you don’t know Nesbø, it’s time to get with it.”
USA Today (US)

“If you’re still grieving the loss of Stieg Larsson, it’s time to move on. Nesbø’s waiting for you.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (US)

“One thing that distinguishes this novel, and Nesbo’s writing generally, is that he is a sharp and evocative stylist; Oslo in winter is cold enough, but Nesbo’s writing techniques have the effect of darkening everything — even the way his characters interact — and a strong sense of doom pervades. The Snowman is for fans of dark, atmospheric crime fiction, and you can be certain it will be on Canadian and American bestseller lists this season. Highly recommended.”
The Western Star (Canada)

“Macabre and disturbing, The Snowman is the most ambitious novel yet from Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø. /…/ Deft plotting, strong characterisation, adrenaline-fuelled action sequences and a whole raft of social issues raised along the way make this book a spectacularly good example of how a tried and tested (and often tired) formula can be made exhilarating and fresh.”
The Guardian (UK)

“Nesbø, in his fifth, most wide-ranging novel, gradually tightens the narrative grip until, throughout the last 100 pages, the reader also finds it hard to breathe. /…/ Nesbø believes there is something rotten in the state of Norway and his brilliant thriller shows how snow-jobs can hide a multitude of sins.”
Evening Standard (UK)

“one follows Hole’s investigation eagerly, because the quality of the writing (and its translation) is so impressive. Technically a police-procedural, this is a far better novel than that categorisation implies.”
Literary Review (UK)

“Brilliantly chilly crime from Norwegian master Nesbø.”
The Mirror (UK)

“That he is able to combine the urgency of the best storytellers with a keen and intelligent engagement with social issues may well be the reason why Nesbø is shaping up to be the next big name in Scandinavian crime fiction, now that Mankell is on the point of retiring Kurt Wallander and Stieg Larsson is hors de combat. /…/ The Snowman is certainly the most disturbing of Nesbø’s books, with a spine-chilling quality that evokes the English master of the macabre, M.R. James. /…/ With its tensile-steel narrative grip, this most ambitious of Nesbø’s crime novels banishes any fears that the omniscient serial killer scenario has been exhausted.”
The Independent (UK)

”With Henning Mankell having written his last Wallander novel and Stieg Larsson no longer with us, I have had to make the decision, to my own satisfaction, on whom to confer the title of best current Nordic writer of crime fiction. After finishing Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman, I hesitate no longer. The Norwegian wins. /…/ This is crime writing of the highest order, in which the characters are as strong as the story, where an atmosphere of evil permeates, and the tension begins in the first chapter and never lets up.”
The Times (UK)

“Jo Nesbø has an uncanny ability to scare readers witless and The Snowman is no exception.”
Metro (UK)

“Each scene is succinct, dovetails with another, shifts the reader’s perspective, and keeps the pace fast and interesting.”
Times Literary Supplement (UK)

The Snowman is a masterpiece.”
Der Spiegel (Germany)

“…[Nesbo is] my latest favorite crime author. He is, in fact, the kind of writer I read for his literary qualities. His originality is almost never in what he tells, but how he tells it. /…/ There is something surprising in how he writes, a certain sensitivity to unusual images rare for the genre.”
Dagens Nyheter (Sweden)

“Guaranteed to chill you, and almost impossible to put away.”
Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden)

“Criminally good. /…/ The Snowman is a skilfully written Hole novel, a crime story so well made that you simply cannot put it down. Nesbø is the Picasso of Norwegian crime; the chapters are colorful, rich in detail, elegant and slot into the big picture beautifully. And the big picture is not only this year’s novel, but the entire series – which is on its way to becoming the best in the history of Norwegian crime writing.”
Stavanger Aftenblad (Norway)

“Jo Nesbø takes off down the 90 meter ski slope with his new crime novel The Snowman. The run, the style and the landing score a full 20 points. /…/ A masterfully written crime story.”
Verdens Gang (Norway)

“A first-rate thriller. /…/ Jo Nesbø’s cleverness and his entirely unique ability to create complex plots is compellingly manifest in this new novel.”
Dagsavisen (Norway)

“Once more, Nesbo shows what a masterly storyteller he is. /…/ The Snowman serves up 439 pages of suspense that wipe the floor with other crime fiction.”
Bergensavisen (Norway)

“First-rate crime from Nesbo. /…/ It has suspense, drive, not to mention storytelling of the finest quality.”
Avisa Nordland (Norway)

“Nesbø writes in a way that has adrenaline pumping through your veins. /…/ The Snowman is the kind of book you devour in one greedy gulp, and that stays with you long after you’ve put it down. And all that is left is a plea to the author, from all of us who are deeply hooked on Harry Hole: More, Nesbø, more!”
Fredriksstad Blad (Norway)

“This is not only crime fiction; this is literary fiction at its very best.”
Tjenestemannsbladet (Norway)

”Outstanding Nesbø.”
Kvinner og Klær (Norway)

“Thrillers very seldom cause outright physical reactions in me, but this time I noted on several occasions that I had almost stopped breathing, and that my heart was starting to beat faster.”
Romsdals Budstikke (Norway)

“As usual, Nesbø serves us crime fiction that you must read, you simply must read.”
Vårt Land (Norway)


The Snowman by Jo Nesbo (excerpt)