Snotchocheez's Reviews > The Snowman

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø
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's review
Mar 16, 2012

really liked it
Read from March 17 to 23, 2012

(3.5 stars)

A little of the serial crime genre goes a long way for me: I like a well written, plausible, suspenseful (sordid and creepy) novel like my first encounter with Jo Nesbø's work has provided me, the über-wack madness that is "The Snowman". But once I've read something like this , I feel like I have to take a shower for an hour and a half, guilty that I took any pleasure in the (admittedly, fictional) sick machinations of an author's hyperactive imagination.

I don't know if it's just me though, but like Stieg Larsson's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" (and the rest of that series), there seems to be a very palpable undercurrent of misogyny at work behind the two novels (though with Nesbø's novel it was slightly easier to stomach). I'm not really sure if it's a Scandinavian thing (I'd have to read something of this genre from a Finnish author to get a more definitive opinion) but both of these novels' mayhem-wielders seem to have women in the metaphorical crosshairs of their nefarious schemes. In "The Snowman", it's not just any women that are preyed upon: Despite a perceived notion by its populace that they are immune from the scourge of serial killers (unlike the rest of the world), Norway comes to grips with the news that someone (leaving a snowman at each crime scene as a calling card) is brutally murdering women who'd, (sorry, a bit of a SPOILER:) it slowly is slowly revealed, bore children, unbeknownst to their husbands, outside of wedlock. It's not immediately evident a serial killer is on the loose until Mr. Nesbø's maverick troubled-soul detective (and I'm sorry, but I still have to stifle a laugh each time I see this name) Harry Hole gets tasked with solving these Oslo-based murders. This Harry, though not exactly cribbed, is VERY similar to Michael Connelly's troubled LA-based Detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch. It was this outward similarity (coupled with a taut story line replete with oodles of twisty turns and phosphorescent neon-red herrings) that really helped me to enjoy this creepy novel. Still and yet, though, I still can't get past the feeling like there's a tacit anti-female sentiment coursing through the fjord-lands; it lends to the creep-out quality of the book, but it prompts me to feel all the more guilty for enjoying it.
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Kathy Oh, I am glad you got this one. It is creeeeepy.

message 2: by rachel (new)

rachel Harry Hole. Get the hell outta here.

message 3: by Snotchocheez (last edited Mar 25, 2012 04:18PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Snotchocheez You certainly can't fault Nesbø...his knowledge of American English idioms might be somewhat lacking...and maybe there's a another definition of hole (or höle, or even høle) in Norway, and I'm guessing with his character's being on the edge of the mental precipice, Nesbø's double entendre for hole is "abyss"...but I'm sorry; I can't help but think, when I see "Harry Hole", of anything else than the late ogrish comedian Sam Kinison (gee, another misogynist, not to mention homophobe) and his ridiculous rant: "How can a man look at another man's hairy ........ and find love?"


message 4: by rachel (last edited Mar 25, 2012 05:06PM) (new)

rachel Yes, that's true. Is Harry a common name for Norwegians though? I decided to look into that and found this:

Which I found kind of interesting. Maybe having read the book you will too?

Kathy This was on a Jo Nesbo site - Readers in English will be relieved to learn that Harry Hole isn't said the way it looks. Instead of 'Hairy' Hole - substitute "Herler" or "Huller" for the detective's surname, and you'll have an approximation of the correct pronunciation. Definitely dials down the giggle quotient.

Snotchocheez Thanks for doing your homework, guys. It's this kind of stuff that keeps me awake at night.

R--You know, my attention was totally attuned to the Hole of Harry Hole, when really I shouldn't have ignored Harry . (Perhaps it was my secondary preocupation with Nicholson Baker's "House of Holes"...thank you, Rachel.) Now I see Hole is just another great big red herring dangled before stateside readers: Harry Hole is not just an Oslo detective at the precipice of madness; he's just a cheesy, tacky, tasteless, and vulgar schmo with perhaps pervy issues. I haven't read enough of these Harry Hole novels to get a feel for the true answer. Perhaps K can weigh in further.

K--This is just buzzkill info. I refuse to substitute Herler or Huller for Hairy just to dial down the giggle quotient. It's ALL about the giggles (even if unintended).

message 7: by rachel (new)

rachel Now you've peaked my interest about Hairy Hole.

Also: "It's ALL about the giggles (even if unintended)." Now that's the spirit!

Kathy Guess I am just a buzz kill - my interest is a flaccid, near dead thing, not piqued in the least. Oh, and Herler or Huller are subs for Hole, not Harry, you chucklehead!

Snotchocheez K--I'm no less confused (and the giggle quotient has not been dialed down one bit!)...Harry Hole is really Hairy Hurler?!? Now you got me thinking of John Belushi in "Animal House". (Pervy, tacky, alcoholic: it fits!)

Kathy Dial back that Wal-mart vino, son!

message 11: by Manny (new)

Manny I must read a Nesbø sometime! I don't know Norway as well, but Harry is a common name in Sweden. Not sure I like 'Herler' as pronunciation... I'd suggest more 'Hoh-leh'. Though it is hard to give English equivalents for Scandinavian vowels!

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