Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Jo Nesbo's Snowman

Hei, there, (“hei” is Norwegian for hello).

I read The Snowman, by Jo Nesbo (Yo Nesboo) a Harry Hole (Hari HEU-leha) novel. Not my normal cup of tea, but it was the summer reading in my new Hopkins class, “Detectives at Home.” Nordic noir is not my cup of tea because there are too many serial killers, crimes are brutal and graphically described, the landscape seems bleak (to me) and there always seems to be this underlying tension of misogyny and violence against women. But once you get past all that, Nesbo seemed to be a good writer, certainly a few cuts above Stieg Larsson, and this was a clever multi-level police procedural.

The book did a good job incorporating the Scandinavian setting and environment into everything—plot, characters, theme. Harry Hole (depressed, alcoholic, and alone), and a couple other principle characters were well-drawn and developed, though many of the victims were just flat types. I liked Harry, and a female detective on his team, found them interesting and cared about them. I disliked every chapter starting out in another character’s point of view—usually the next victim who only live until the end of the chapter.

There were some clever oddities—murders occurred on the evening of the first snowfall, but by coincidence the ones described were on the nights of U.S. presidential elections. The writing was generally straightforward, plain and unadorned, but occasionally there were effective images and allusions, and weird, unexplained metaphors, the weirdest being that Harry’s house was being treated for a severe case of mold. The Mold Thing is probably worth a whole blog post in itself, but I don't understand it, so I'll leave that to someone else to write. 

I don’t know that I’d read another Jo Nesbo, but he’s a good writer worth a try if you’ve not read any or if you enjoy serial killer police procedurals.