Harry Hole gets under your skin, and you feel ambivalent about him as a cop. There is much to dislike, in Nesbø tough, cool and marginal hero, but still we like him because he is almost as familiar as a dog-eared toothbrush. Just when you are feeling comfortable, it is at an end and time to start a new one. And so it is with the Nesbø books.
They are fantastic reads, and one becomes so close to Harry, the central character, that one can predict his move, but then, he surprises us, with a twist we did not see coming.
As luck would have it, I have just finished reading The Bat, Nesbø’s first novel, (although published in English much later in the Harry Hole series), and The Snowman, refers to circumstances from The Bat, although I had no way of knowing that it would be releveant. Harry is convinced a serial killer is operating in Norway, and his expertise from his Australian trip (detailed in The Bat), both assists and arrests progress in identifying the killer/s. (excuse the pun). An alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years, often occurring when the first snow comes to Norway…..
The house was large and yellow. Too big for a family of three, Harry thought, as they walked up the shingle path. Everything around them dripped and sighed. In the garden stood a snowman with a slight list and poor future prospects.
In an interview, Nesbø said he felt he went a little far in this and the next novel, The Leopard, which I am yet to read, and that he regrets that. He also said that the seemingly indestructible Harry will be killed off/retired in future novels.
There is some interesting commentary about policing in the novel when Katrine Bratt, a new detective from Bergen is assigned to help him on the case and when discussing whether beautiful people are more preoccupied with beauty than ugly people obsessed with looking good even to the point of undertaking cosmetic surgery:
“I don’t know.” Karine said. “People with high IQs are so fixated on IQ that they have founded their own club, haven’t they? I suppose you focus on what you have. I would guess you’re fairly proud of your investigative talent.”
” You mean the rat-catching gene? The innate ability to lock up people with mental illnesses, addiction problems, well under average intellect and well above average childhood deprivation?
Later in the book, Aune, Hole confidante and former psychological colleague, make a meaningful commentary about society, and punishment of crime.
“The more aged I become, the more I tend to the view that evil is evil, mental illness or no. We’re all more or less disposed to evil actions, but our disposition cannot exonerate us. For heaven’s sake, we’re all sick with personality disorders. And it’s our actions which define how sick we are. We’re equal before the law we say, but it’s meaningless as long as no one is equal. During the Black Death, sailors who coughed, were immediately thrown overboard. Of course they were. For justice is a blunt knife, both as a philosophy and a judge.”
This story has the hallmark of Nesbø twists and turns, but the astute reader should be able to determine the culprits, despite the detours Nesbø puts in place. As one questions the various dances, the author makes his characters play, it is becoming easy to see I should listen to those questions more, if I want to solve the crime sooner. Nesbø is a fantastic author and if you have never before read Scandinavian crime fiction, he is the one to read……
The good: Descriptive, intriguing, and there is a snow man in the story!
The bad: Hole’s miscalculations and errors…. he is starting to slip up.
The Ugly: The crimes themselves……
Next on the TBR pile: Anne Holt 1222
Something to ponder about.