Shiver and shake. You’ll never look at a snowman the same again after reading Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman, his fifth book to be translated into English.
Nesbo, a Nordic author, initially takes the reader back in time to Wednesday, Nov. 5, 1980. Sara meets her lover for a last tryst while leaving her son in the car. At one point during their lovemaking, her lover thinks he sees someone from the window. It turns out to be a snowman. When she leaves with her son, she realizes he has been frightened by the snowman as he declares, “We’re going to die.”
Flash forward to Nov. 2, 2004 to what will come to be known as day 1.
Harry Hole, 40, Inspector of the Crime Squad at Oslo Police Headquarters, Gunnar Hagen, head of the Crime Squad, and Katrine Bratt, a new officer, assigned to Harry, gather at police headquarters to sift through cases even as a storm gathers on the horizon.
Jonas, ten, discovers someone has built a snowman in his family’s yard, but no one knows who did it. At bedtime, he stares at it through the window and has the eerie feeling it is watching him. In the morning his mother has disappeared. Her pink scarf is around the snowman’s neck.
Going back in time again, now to Nov. 4, 1991, in Bergen, Norway, Inspector Gert Rafto has been called to a crime scene where a woman has been mutilated. A snowman has been built at the ski lift where the murder occurs. Eventually Rafto will go missing too.
Since 1992, 11 women with children have gone missing and then been found murdered–one a year, until the two so far this year, and always on the day of the first snowfall.
What connection do these women have to one another? What is the significance of the snowfall and the snowman? Why is he killing more and more? Hole, Bratt and the other officers in the department must find the answers before even more women die and more children are left motherless.
Nesbo has constructed a compulsive murder mystery sure to please fans of Nordic crime novels. It is well structured and detailed as we have come to expect from these authors. While the author is not the next Stieg Larsson (since there was only one), Nesbo is someone you will want to read again. You will definitely want to read more about Harry Hole; however, you may not want to see another snowman.