Here’s another entree from the NWOSCF menu, The Snowman by Jo Nesbo. This time, the protagonist is Harry Hole, a policeman from Oslo who’s tasked with finding the murderer of several women who’ve gone missing. The women are found in gruesome situations, usually dismembered or arranged in grotesque mockeries of life. Present at every scene is a giant snowman, a figure left by the killer to taunt the police, a metaphor for the life that slowly dripped away from the throats of his victims. A common thread emerges: all the women were guilty of infidelity, adultery or worse. Hole is a man who realizes that the Snowman kills on the day of the first snow in Norway and will kill as long as he’s unstopped. The story rapidly unfolds from there and we are taken to the conclusion at breakneck speed.
Perhaps the most thrilling thing about this book is the way the plot deceives you as it hurtles towards another plausible solution. Since the premise of the book is straightforward and can have only one conclusion, it’s a matter of how much pleasure you can milk along the route. Nesbo’s skill lies in drawing you rapidly towards a conclusion, then veering off once you’re convinced Hole’s found the killer. This happens a few times and right before it starts to get tiresome, Nesbo pulls the plug and lets us in on the secret. By far the most American of all the NWOSCF books I’ve read, pick this one up for a modern thriller, one that’s predicated on a lot more action and is not as contemplative as some of the other gems in the the NWOSCF.