This was my first Harry Hole mystery thriller but hopefully not my last! Over the years, women have gone missing on the day of a first snowfall. Harry Hole, the only Oslo police investigator with experience catching serial killers in Norway, is alerted to this pattern by a mysterious letter about the Snowman. Thus begins a superb thriller by Norwegian Jo Nesbø; this story has many twists where it seems the case is solved, but that can't be true because there are many pages to go. I appreciated the flashbacks and fragments from perspectives other than Harry's which at first don't fit well, but make sense later. Harry is an interestingly flawed, alcoholic character who uses both intuition and solid reasoning to solve this case. Be warned that there are non-prudish sex scenes and a gruesome ending. Although I was able for once to guess the villain, I thoroughly enjoyed this Scandinavian thriller.
I'm going against the grain here and am saying that I couldn't even finish this book. The problem for me stems from the fact that most all of the names/places are Norewgian, with long names + accents that I can't pronounce. Consequently, I never could get immersed into the story because the character development wasn't clicking with me. I found my attempts to pronounce the names a completely distraction from the story. A couple of characters were easy to get to know because I could 'hear' their names in my head(detectives Harry Hole and Karine Bratt, for example). Apparently I need to be able to do this in order to enjoy a story.
Jo Nesbo lives up to the hype. His books are highly original and extremely suspenseful. Harry Hole is a great flawed hero in the tradition of both the hardboiled American detective and the Swedish tormented souls who devote their lives to trying to find order in a world of chaos. Harry is wounded and vulnerable, but still brilliant at his job. The Snowman makes a great nemesis and there are multitudes of twists to keep the reader engaged.
You will never look at a snowman the same way again. :o