THE SNOWMAN (Harry Hole #7) - by Jo Nesbo

Published: 2017 (Film Tie-in) - Vintage
Pages: 576.
Genres: Adult / thriller / contemporary / mystery
Triggers/Content Advisory: Strong, frequent sexual content and explicit sex scenes / frequent gory violence / infrequent bad language
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Soon the first snow will come A young boy wakes to find his mother missing. Outside, he sees her favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of a snowman. And then he will appear again Detective Harry Hole soon discovers that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years. And when the snow is gone… When a second woman disappears, Harry’s worst suspicion is confirmed: a serial killer is operating on his home turf. …he will have taken someone else

While I did struggle - missing out elements of back stories and past cases, etc - starting with what is the seventh book in the Harry Hole series, I do think it can be read by itself, just at the expense of some character development.
I requested this thriller because I'm dying to watch the movie (Michael Fassbender. Say no more). I thought it'd be a good idea to read the book first.

The writing is excellent. Short, punchy sentences that get right to the point, and dialogue that crackles.  The setting is also very atmospheric, and every scene is vivid and three dimensional. I love that.

The plot is tight and complicated, and not only is the mystery clever, but it's easy to follow. Too often when I read thrillers their "cleverness" ends up losing me, but not in this book - it's definitely incredibly intelligent, but it carries you each step of the way; you feel like you're alongside the detectives and learning as they learn.

The story is gripping, as well - the pages fly by as you tear through.  It's also very creepy, dark, and scary. The characters are twisted, and the crimes graphic and sadistic. There's no light or real love in this book; it's grim, harsh, and as unforgiving as ice. When you finish reading, you'll appreciate the masterful story and writing, but you won't necessarily be dying for a re-read. It's a good thriller, but I don't love it. There's nothing extremely likeable about it.

“We're capable of understanding that someone has to drop an atomic bomb on a town of innocent civilians, but not that others have to cut up prostitutes who spread disease and moral depravity in the slums of London. Hence we call the former realism and the latter madness.”

The characters are all complicated, twisty people, either fighting their demons or still damaged from that fight. It's a pretty big cast, but I like that I was given just enough information to place everyone in the story and know the backbone of their characters. No one is exceptionally vivid, but they're all firmly on the page. It's bearable. 

Harry Hole is a decent character. I think that by starting the series with the seventh book I missed some pivotal moments in his past and his relationships, so perhaps that's why I felt him slightly lacking. Still, he's definitely the most vivid of the cast - which is appropriate. He clearly has a lot of depth and ghosts in his past, and the glimpses I got of those were compelling. He's a strong character. I just wanted to see more of that, which I'm sure I would've if I'd read the previous books.

But I don't love any of the characters. I've read books with unlikeable casts before and actually loved them, but in this story everyone's too hard and crude. Not to mention I don't typically enjoy reading from men's perspectives because I find their views of women unsettling and perverse. In this book, the scenes where men describe women are uncomfortable to read. At least for me. 

The Snowman is an enthralling thriller dripping with bloodlust and captivating dialogue. The mystery is clever, easy to keep up with, but I can't say I loved the book.  The lack of true goodness from the plot or the characters makes it harsh and bitter. 

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