Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

A friend of mine gave me the Vintage UK edition of The Snowman a couple months ago. I've read a number of Nesbo's Harry Hole series, but kept putting this one off, likely because it was too dark for me. I wanted lighter fair. But after reading Ken Bruen's The Guards, I wanted some more gritty storytelling and Nesbo was just waiting to be picked up. If you haven't read any of the Harry Hole novels, Harry Hole is an alcoholic, work obsessed detective in Oslo. He's unpredictable and brilliant. The perfect combination. The stereotypical qualities of Hole don't do his character justice. He certainly reminds me a lot of Bruen's Jack Taylor, but has a lighter side than Taylor. But nothing about these crime novels are light. It's winter in Oslo and someone is using snowmen as calling cards for murders they're committing. It's not as funny as it sounds.

The snow in the garden reflected enough light for him to make out the snowman down below. It looked alone. Someone should have given it a cap and scarf. And maybe a broomstick to hold. At that moment the moon slid from behind a cloud. The black row of teeth came into view. And the eyes. Jonas automatically sucked in his breath and recoiled two steps. The pebble-eyes were gleaming. And they were not staring in the house. They were looking up. Up here. Jonas drew the curtains and crept back into bed.

With setting, mood and gifted storytelling, Nesbo is creating a monster (snowman and killer) that has provided me with more than one anxious moment. My lunchtime reads are now spinetinglers, literally. And I know one thing for sure. You can now add snowmen to the list of one time cute and funny 'things' that now scare the crap out of me. Snowmen and clowns. Brrr

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