Written by Jo Nesbø
Number 7 in Harry Hole
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime
Original Language: Norwegian
Read from 2020-02-23 to 2020-02-29
Read in Norwegian
Review: After a few books of them finding their footing, I’ve come to really like the Harry Hole books. They are predictably fun, while having a predictably unpredictable outcome. They’re a safe refuge of reliably good, gritty, crime. Snømannen was no exception.
I (in more ways than one, from what I’ve heard) have benefited from not seeing the film that was made out of this book, which gave me the advantage of not knowing how the book would end. I’m really unsure how much my opinion of the book would have differed if I had seen the film first, but as with most of the Harry Hole books, the genuine uncertainty around what was actually going on really helped the story as a whole. As usual there were many, many things going on, as usual everything was chaotic to the point where it could have become messy, but as usual it was all held together in a way where everything fell into place by the end of the book, in a way that felt satisfying.
Sure, there are a lot of things in the book which are overdone, corny, silly, and very out there, but it felt like it was done knowingly, and the combination of low-key and down-to-earth crime with the occasional flare of overdone Hollywood-esque drama works well. I can see how this might bother some, especially if they come to these books for a Millennium-trilogy style of consistent atmosphere, but it doesn’t bother me. The fact that the Harry Hole books strike a note of a grounded atmosphere, as well as an occasional extravaganza of overdone theatrics, has become a consistent discord that I appreciate. It feels like the best of both worlds, rather than two things that detract from each other.
As far as the content of the book goes, as to not spoil any of what’s in it, I’ll say that my experience with it went the usual way: I always thought I knew who had done it, even though my mind on the matter was changed several times through the duration of the book. I was always relatively certain that the evidence pointed in the direction I was thinking about, however, experience led me to always be equally certain that I was wrong. There were plot-points I saw coming, in a satisfying way, having picked up on clues that had been laid out. There were other plot-points I didn’t see coming, also in a satisfying way, as I thought back and remembered things that had been laid out that should have tipped me off. I’m not going to say whether or not I saw the ending coming, but I did find it satisfying.
Snømannen is yet another well-crafted, entertaining, Harry Hole story. I can only speak to the Norwegian version of it, I have no idea how much these books lose (if anything) through translation, but any fan of crime should at least check out some books in this series. They’re a welcome treat for anyone who likes them.