With its characters’ kitsch sex-lives involving pig masks and shop changing rooms, this racy thriller is borderline erotic novel
The Snowman is a sexy book but also a whodunit murder story bursting with social issues. However, it is the sex that you notice first as the first Chapter is so graphic you wouldn’t skim over it. I was reading at the same time as my cousin over Christmas and so I asked her, ‘Bad sex in Chapter One, agree?’ to which she replied, ‘Oh yes, very bad!’
More sexual fantasy is dreamt up by detective Harry Hole, a Scandinavian James Bond. He’s a regular guy who has nice clothes, likes to drink and loves women without being promiscuous, but not committing either. Nesbo writes well about his affair with old lover Rakel after she marries a doctor with no nipples. However, Harry is too much of a workaholic to bother about Nick-No-Nips.
He is busy uncovering a serial murderer known spookily as the Snowman with posh sidekick, Katrine Bratt. They make quite an odd pair, think Eva Green and Daniel Craig, but it works. Together, they follow the Snowman who snatches mothers and wives from their families.
Overall, The Snowman is an entertaining read without making a lasting impression. The story is gripping and fast-paced. The murders begin one November night when a terrified young boy finds a Snowman with his mother’s pink scarf around its neck. From here on there are plenty of twists and turns, but the nail-biting action picks up in the later stages.
A problem throughout is there are also too many people to keep track of. I had to warn my cousin to watch out for another handful of characters as I was a few chapters ahead. Plus the main group never really materialised for me into well drawn out people. I can’t think of one who I found remarkably original.
While painting dark and violent scenes, Nesbo also explores social themes. These include racial tensions in the city of Oslo, cracks in the welfare state and parenting issues. They are kept in the background rather than pushed in front of you like in Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy.
Finally, I regret reading the Snowman out of sequence. I heard you don’t have to read the series chronologically but I’m not sure I can go back to Rakel dating Nick-No-Nips, even if a juicy murder is on the cards.