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The Snowman
Cover of The Snowman
The Snowman
Harry Hole Series, Book 7
by Jo Nesbo
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Inspector Harry Hole tracks a Norwegian serial killer in this installment of Jo Nesbø's New York Times bestselling series. Look out for the latest Harry Hole novel, The Thirst, available now.
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.
Inspector Harry Hole tracks a Norwegian serial killer in this installment of Jo Nesbø's New York Times bestselling series. Look out for the latest Harry Hole novel, The Thirst, available now.
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.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    Day 3The Pit

    "Was that great or what?"

    Oleg's enthusiastic voice drowned out the spitting fat in the kebab shop, which was crowded with people after the concert at the Oslo Spektrum. Harry nodded to Oleg, who was standing in his hoodie, still sweaty, still moving to the beat as he prattled on about the members of Slipknot by name, names Harry didn't even know since Slipknot CDs were sparing with personal data, and music magazines like MOJO and Uncut didn't write about bands like that. Harry ordered hamburgers and looked at his watch. Rakel had said she would be standing outside at ten o'clock. Harry looked at Oleg again. He was talking nonstop.

    When had it happened? When had the boy turned eleven and decided to like music about various stages of death, alienation, freezing and general doom? Perhaps it ought to have worried Harry, but it didn't. It was a starting point, a curiosity that had to be satisfied, clothes the boy had to try on to see if they fit. Other things would come along. Better things. Worse things.

    "You liked it, too, didn't you, Harry?"

    Harry nodded. He didn't have the heart to tell him the concert had been a bit of an anticlimax for him. He couldn't put his finger on what it was; perhaps it just wasn't his night. As soon as they had joined the crowd in the Spektrum, he had felt the paranoia that used to regularly accompany drunkenness but that during the last year had come when he was sober. And instead of getting into the mood, he had had the feeling he was being observed, and stood scanning the audience, studying the wall of faces around them.

    "Slipknot rules," Oleg said. "And the masks were übercool. Especially the one with the long, thin nose. It looked like a . . . sort of . . . "

    Harry was listening with half an ear, hoping Rakel would come soon. The air inside the kebab shop suddenly felt dense and suffocating, like a thin film of grease lying on your skin and over your mouth. He tried not to think his next thought. But it was on its way, had already rounded the corner. The thought of a drink.

    "It's an Indian death mask," a woman's voice behind them said.

    "And Slayer was better than Slipknot."

    Harry spun around in surprise.

    "Lots of posing with Slipknot, isn't there?" she continued. "Recycled ideas and empty gestures."

    She was wearing a shiny, figure-hugging, ankle-length black coat buttoned up to her neck. All you could see under the coat was a pair of black boots. Her face was pale and her eyes made up.

    "I would never have believed it," Harry said. "You liking that kind of music."

    Katrine Bratt managed a brief smile. "I suppose I would say the opposite."

    She gave him no further explanation and signaled to the man behind the counter that she wanted a Farris mineral water.

    "Slayer sucks," Oleg mumbled under his breath.

    Katrine turned to him. "You must be Oleg."

    "Yes," Oleg said sulkily, pulling up his army trousers and looking as if he both liked and disliked this attention from a mature woman.

    "How d'ya know?"

    Katrine smiled. " 'How d'ya know?' Living on Holmenkollen

    Ridge as you do, shouldn't you say 'How do you know?'? Is Harry teaching you bad habits?"

    Blood suffused Oleg's cheeks.

    Katrine laughed quietly and patted Oleg's shoulder. "Sorry, I'm just curious."

    The boy's face went so red that the whites of his eyes were shining.

    "I'm also curious," Harry said, passing a burger to Oleg. "I assume you've found the pattern I asked for, Bratt. Since you've got time to come to a gig."

    Harry looked at her in a way that spelled out his warning:...

About the Author-
  • Jo Nesbø is a musician, songwriter, economist, and author. His previous Harry Hole novels include The Redbreast, Nemesis, and The Devil's Star. His books, translated into forty languages, have sold more than five million copies worldwide, and he has received the Glass Key Award for best Nordic crime novel (previously awarded to Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell). He lives in Oslo.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 28, 2011
    In this chilling installment in Nesbø's Insp. Harry Hole crime series (The Devil's Star, etc.), a snowman left in the front yard of Birte Becker's Oslo house is the only clue to the woman's disappearance. When Sylvia Ottersen disappears from her farmhouse soon afterward, the snowman the killer leaves behind has a gruesome addition: Sylvia's severed head. Harry, aided by Katrine Bratt, a brash new member of his team with secrets of her own, combs through past missing person cases, looking for other victims of the killer now dubbed the Snowman. Several months earlier, Harry received an anonymous letter referring to both snowmen and the Australian serial killer he'd pursued early in his career. What appeared random and bizarre then now takes on new meaning as Harry realizes the killer is taunting him. Nesbø breathes new life into the serial killer subgenre, giving it a Norwegian twist and never losing his laconic hero in the process. 150,000 first printing; 6-city author tour.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from May 1, 2011

    Erica Jong meets Stephen King meets, yes, Stieg Larsson in this superb thriller, the eighth by Norwegian mystery writer Nesbø.

    Oslo detective Harry Hole returns, world-weary as ever, to puzzle out some very strange, and very discomfiting, events. The opening is very Scandinavian indeed: two people not married to each other are experiencing some extracurricular bliss—the Erica Jong part—when one notices that they're being watched, whereupon the woman's kid, waiting in a car in the wintry outside—the Scandinavian part—informs his mom, "We're going to die"—and not just because Ronald Reagan has just been elected. The thing is, it's a snowman that's doing the watching, and from that fact no good thing can emerge. Nesbø is to be complimented: It's one of the creepiest opening scenes in recent memory, even if the lovemaking has a sort of late-1970s West German soft-porn feel to it. Fast-forward 24 years, when the Norwegians are worried about Dubya, and Hole is on the case of more snowman hijinks, helped along by his fellow officers of the Politioverbetjent (the Crime Squad, that is), one of whom is "attractive without trying" and makes a fine lure for mayhem. Things get creepier as the scene shifts from substation to plastic surgeon's office to coroner's gurney, when Harry announces, "I just have the feeling that someone is watching me the whole time, that someone is watching me now. I'm part of someone's plan." So he is, and the story resolves with a nice edgy twist that would do Larsson proud. Harry 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.

    (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2010

    After his mother disappears, young Jonas finds a snowman on the lawn with her pink scarf about its neck. Other women vanish into Oslo's frigid air, and police investigator Harry Hole finds himself driven to the brink by a particularly dexterous and menacing killer. A Glass Key award winner who has helped put Scandinavian crime fiction on top (five million copies of his books have been sold worldwide), Nesbo here switches to a new American publisher--the very one that gave us Stieg Larsson. Essential for thriller collections; with a six-city tour.

    Copyright 2010 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Michael Connelly "Jo Nesbø is my new favorite thriller writer and Harry Hole my new hero."
  • Times (UK) "With Henning Mankell having written his last Wallander novel and Stieg Larsson no longer with us, I have had to make the decision 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 . . . 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."
  • Newsday "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 . . . The psychological aspects of the novel are on a par with Ruth Rendell's inspector Wexford mysteries. Ultimately, though, what sets Nesbø apart is his ability to keep the pages turning with such intellectual dexterity."
  • Library Journal (starred) "Nesbø is being hailed as the next Stieg Larsson or Henning Mankell . . . Apt comparisons, but they don't go far enough. This is simply the best detective novel this reviewer has read in years . . . 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."
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred) "Erica Jong meets Stephen King meets, yes, Stieg Larsson in this superb thriller."
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