The Snowman (Harry Hole #7), by Jo Nesbø

Eight stars

Nesbø creates his best novel in the series to date, placing Harry Hole and the larger cast of characters in a fast-paced race to discover Norway’s first serial killer. Hole is investigating a number of murders in and around the Oslo area, after previous detectives could not find tangible clues to tie them together or offer any insight. Hole discovers that all the slain women are married mothers and that a snowman stands outside their residence, a beacon of sorts. Using the apt moniker “The Snowman” for the killer, Hole works alongside a new partner, Katrine Bratt, and they expand the investigation, finding previous murders scattered throughout Norway. Further investigating sees Hole and Bratt discover a potential motive for the murders, children whose paternity is in question, unbeknownst to the fathers. As the case continues to heat up, Hole finds himself more drawn to Bratt on a number of levels, struggling with a past romance as well. The detectives work together and place a number of suspects in the crosshairs, only to discover that these are misdirections by the real killer. When Bratt is considered a prime suspect, Hole must fight with all he has to clear her name or detail her and stop the murdering rampage. Reconnecting with his ex, Rakel, Hole must also determine if she is safe from The Snowman, or if she could become another victim, as the killer seems focussed on personalising the act. A fabulous story that pushes Harry Hole to the brink on numerous occasions, Nesbø keeps readers begging for more.

I have been anticipating getting to this novel in the series for a while. Having heard that it is the best of the collection, I can certainly see why, with Nesbø upping the ante from the start. The story is a compilation of many plots woven together and forces the reader not only to follow a complex murder investigation, but also subplots that do, eventually, play into the larger narrative. The introduction of Bratt as Hole’s new partner harkens back to the plight of past detectives who worked alongside Hole. As the story pulls in so many directions, there is no doubt that the unfinished business left between Hole and Rakel must play some role, which substantiates the argument that she was highly important to Hole, even as many others are kept at arm’s length. With his continued battles to wrestle with addiction, Hole becomes even more likeable in this story, as he pushes outside of his comfort zone to offer the reader more of a glimpse into his multi-faceted personality.

Kudos Mr. Nesbø for another wonderful book. Can we expect even more pizzazz to come in the next novel?