Snømannen The Snowman

Harry Hole #7

The Snowman is the seventh novel featuring Harry Hole, and the first since Nesbø’s debut novel The Bat to pit the ethylic Oslo detective against a true serial killer. The Snowman murders only when the first snow falls, choosing unfaithful wives as his victims and turning them into snowmen – literally. With its impeccable timing and high degree of complexity, this sad tale of parenthood, vanity and loss only confirms Jo Nesbø’s place in the international pantheon of contemporary writers of crime fiction.

The Snowman was awarded with The Booksellers’ Prize (Bokhandlerprisen) 2007 for ‘Best Novel of the Year’, and with The Norwegian Book Club Prize (Den norske leserprisen) 2007 for ‘Best Novel of the Year’.

“[The Snowman] is a book as fathomless as the snow, as luminous and abstract as Beethoven’s Late String Quartets and a very jarring and unique literary experience. It exists on a recognizable plane of propulsive energy undercut with the irony that moulds all kind of fiction, including my own.”
–James Ellroy

The Snowman is a superb thriller. Jo Nesbø is astonishingly good; he knows how to grab you, by the throat and by the heart.”
–Jeff Abbott

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo is relentless. His terrifying transformation of a childhood icon permeated my sleep. I started Redbreast but it was too much. I gave it to my guitarist Lenny Kaye and he was hooked. Now my band is reading Nesbo but I am too petrified to crack open the Phantom….”
–Patti Smith

Click here for a video interview in English with Jo Nesbø about The Snowman.
Click here to watch a book trailer on The Snowman made by Jo Nesbø’s US publisher Knopf.
Click here to watch a book trailer on The Snowman made by Jo Nesbø’s UK publisher Harvill Secker.


The Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize (Best Novel of the Year) Norway 2007
The Norwegian Book Club Prize (Best Novel of the Year) Norway 2007
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  • “An entertaining take on the serial killer trope, this one shows Nesbø as a master of complex, surprising storytelling.”

    Esquire, US

  • “In The Snowman, Nesbo puts those engineering skills to use in a fiendishly complex and terrifically entertaining plot. /…/ Nesbo has a horrormeister’s flair for transforming natural scenes into ominous situations.”

    New York Times, US

  • “Maddeningly addictive… plotted with Larsson-like ingenuity”

    Vanity Fair, US

  • The Snowman is strung together with great care, playful in certain stretches, grisly in others, all of it highly readable.”

    Newsweek, US

  • “Fans of Stieg Larsson, rejoice: A serial killer called the Snowman is stalking innocent mothers and wives in Norway. And Nesbo’s anti-hero cop, Harry Hole, is on the case — with a feisty new female partner. But will this mysterious killer, named for the snowy calling card he leaves, drive Hole, whose background includes a year-long serial-killer class with the FBI in Chicago, to the brink? Well, without spoiling the drama, we can only say things will get cold and dark.”

    New York Post, US

  • “Once again, Jo Nesbo has written a taut thriller, one that is forceful and gripping and, this time, full of madness. His novels just keep on getting better and better. Fast-paced and staggering, always keeping the reader looking ahead to the next shift, keeping one off balance with wonder. Highly recommended.”

    Spinetingler Magazine, US

  • “This is reading as you experienced it in childhood, without any gap between eye and mind, but with the added pleasures that adult plots and adult characters can bring. /…/ Character is important and largely credible in the Nesbø books, and that is part of what makes them consistently appealing. But it is their plots – brilliantly conceived, carefully worked out, and complicatedly satisfying – that finally make them un-put-downable. /…/ Nesbø's talent for complex, propulsive plotting reaches its pinnacle in this volume: I actually had to get out of bed in the middle of the night to finish reading it, because thinking about its plot strands made me hopelessly insomniac.”

    Slate, US

  • “[Nesbø's] latest, The Snowman, is a superb thriller – smart, stylish, beautifully paced and meticulously plotted. /…/ Nesbø is such an insightful portraitist that Hole and all the secondary characters are convincing at just about every bloody turn. /…/ Ultimately, though, what sets Nesbø apart is his ability to keep the pages turning – and there are almost 400 of them – with such intellectual dexterity.”

    Newsday, US

  • “Nesbø also has no truck with the idea that hellish deeds are susceptible to easy psychological explanations. Evil, at root, is a mystery. /…/ The real treat in a Nesbø novel is the hero, Oslo Police Inspector Harry Hole (pronounced HEU-leh). He's a more violent maverick than most examples of that familiar crime-fiction type, and he's an alcoholic. He's also a brilliant detective, prone to bursts of intuitive recollection, and appreciative of unusual talents in others. And he pulls off feats of physical and intellectual derring-do that would have a movie star winking and smiling at the camera, only Harry Hole almost never smiles. /…/ Nesbø's other hallmark is the acerbic fun he has attacking Norway's insecurities and pretensions, often by comparisons with the United States.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer, US

  • “This is among the best entries in Nesbo’s consistently superior series. He layers the suspense skillfully, deftly mixing scenes from the investigation with glimpses into Harry’s always compelling personal life. Series readers will be pleased that Harry maintains a friendly relationship with Rakel and her son, Oleg. The Snowman is a great place for new readers to meet Norway’s maverick detective.”

    Booklist, US

  • “Snowmen are jolly creatures, right? They stand in front of houses wearing gumdrop grins and colorful scarves. But, what if the snowman were turned around, so that, instead of facing the street, it was staring at your house? All of a sudden, the ordinary becomes ominous. /…/ Nesbø is rightly celebrated as Norway's most acclaimed thriller writer. (He won the Glass Key Award for 'Best Nordic Crime,' an honor also bestowed on Larsson and fellow Swede Henning Mankell.) /…/ What [Harry Hole] discovers will forever change your attitude towards Frosty and his kin. The Snowman is a standout thriller, capable of disturbing your slumbers after the first thaw.”

    NPR, US

  • Erica Jong meets Stephen King meets, yes, Stieg Larsson in this superb thriller, the eighth by Norwegian mystery writer Nesbø. /…/ Nesbø is to be complimented: It's one of the creepiest opening scenes in recent memory… /…/ …and the story resolves with a nice edgy twist that would do Larsson proud. Harry [Hole] is pleasingly human, with a capacity for hard, grueling work being one of his best features, and the rest of the characters say and do believable things, the murderous snowman notwithstanding. The Norwegian settings are sometimes exotic, sometimes just grimy—who knew that Oslo had a high-crime area?—but always appropriate to the story, which unfolds at just the right pace. The smart, suspenseful cat-and-mouse game will remind some readers of Erik Skjoldbjærg’s 1997 film Insomnia—and that’s high praise indeed.”

    Kirkus Reviews, US

  • “Have you ever received an electric shock from the mere act of picking up a book? I have. It happened with No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, and now again with The Snowman… It's supercharged from beginning to end. /…/ Still, whether you are familiar with [Harry] Hole or not, you will be mesmerized by this novel. /…/ Hole does not lack for suspects. And let me tell you, as interesting a dark hero as he may be, the villains here, even the innocent ones, are as unforgettable as any you will encounter in literature this year.”

    The Book Reporter, US

  • “Nesbø breathes new life into the serial killer subgenre, giving it a Norwegian twist and never losing his laconic hero in the process.”

    Publishers Weekly, US

  • “[Nesbø’s] latest thriller reads like a symphony, from the thundering first chords that pull the reader into a magical world through the delicately enticing development in which motifs and story strands are woven together leading to a pounding, furious conclusion. /…/ Nesbø is being hailed as the next Stieg Larsson or Henning Mankell; this work is being compared to Peter Høeg’s Smilla’s Sense Of Snow, among others. Apt comparisons, but they don’t go far enough. This is simply the best detective novel this reviewer has read in years.”

    Library Journal, US

  • “The [crime fiction] field is crowded with worthies such as Karin Fossum and Håkan Nesser, but Nesbo's books have a serious, socially significant heft, as well as a confident (even cocky) narrative stride that is unmatched. /…/ These aren't mere investigatory trifles to be enjoyed and forgotten; their unnerving horrors linger.”

    Richmond Times-Dispatch, US

  • “If you don’t know Nesbø, it’s time to get with it.”

    USA Today, US

  • “One thing that distinguishes this novel, and Nesbo's writing generally, is that he is a sharp and evocative stylist; Oslo in winter is cold enough, but Nesbo's writing techniques have the effect of darkening everything — even the way his characters interact — and a strong sense of doom pervades. The Snowman is for fans of dark, atmospheric crime fiction, and you can be certain it will be on Canadian and American bestseller lists this season. Highly recommended.”

    The Western Star, Canada

  • “With Henning Mankell having written his last Wallander novel and Stieg Larsson no longer with us, I have had to make the decision, to my own satisfaction, on whom to confer the title of best current Nordic writer of crime fiction. After finishing Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman, I hesitate no longer. The Norwegian wins. /…/ This is crime writing of the highest order, in which the characters are as strong as the story, where an atmosphere of evil permeates, and the tension begins in the first chapter and never lets up.”

    Marcel Berlins, The Times, UK

  • “That he is able to combine the urgency of the best storytellers with a keen and intelligent engagement with social issues may well be the reason why Nesbø is shaping up to be the next big name in Scandinavian crime fiction, now that Mankell is on the point of retiring Kurt Wallander and Stieg Larsson is hors de combat. /…/ The Snowman is certainly the most disturbing of Nesbø's books, with a spine-chilling quality that evokes the English master of the macabre, M.R. James. /…/ With its tensile-steel narrative grip, this most ambitious of Nesbø's crime novels banishes any fears that the omniscient serial killer scenario has been exhausted.”

    The Independent, UK

  • “Nesbø’s plotting and pared-back prose style effectively keeping the reader hooked as he ramps up the action to a gripping climax.”

    The Big Issue, UK

  • “This rebel Oslo cop looks well placed to secure the loyalty of Stieg Larsson fans”

    The Independent, UK

  • “Every now and then, a truly exceptional crime novel comes along, something so gripping that it recalls classics such as The Silence of the Lambs. One of Norway’s most successful crime writers, Jo Nesbø has pulled it off with The Snowman. /…/ This latest novel… establishes him as a writer of rare ingenuity and total confidence. /…/ Hatred of women is at the heart of this superb novel, which deserves comparison with the first volume of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy.”

    Sunday Times, UK

  • “chillingly adept… creepy, creepy stuff from the very first page.”

    Time Out, UK

  • “Nesbo effortlessly shows what can be done with the classic detective story, employing clever tricks to maintain almost unbearable suspense.”

    Sunday Times, UK

  • “Each scene is succinct, dovetails with another, shifts the reader’s perspective, and keeps the pace fast and interesting.”

    Times Literary Supplement, UK

  • “Nesbø’s deliciously action-packed narrative is full of sympathetic characters.”

    Monocle, UK

  • “Jo Nesbø has an uncanny ability to scare readers witless and The Snowman is no exception.”

    Metro, UK

  • “one follows Hole’s investigation eagerly, because the quality of the writing (and its translation) is so impressive. Technically a police-procedural, this is a far better novel than that categorisation implies.”

    Literary Review, UK

  • “Nesbø, in his fifth, most wide-ranging novel, gradually tightens the narrative grip until, throughout the last 100 pages, the reader also finds it hard to breathe. /…/ Nesbø believes there is something rotten in the state of Norway and his brilliant thriller shows how snow-jobs can hide a multitude of sins.”

    Evening Standard, UK

  • “Macabre and disturbing, The Snowman is the most ambitious novel yet from Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø. /…/Deft plotting, strong characterisation, adrenaline-fuelled action sequences and a whole raft of social issues raised along the way make this book a spectacularly good example of how a tried and tested (and often tired) formula can be made exhilarating and fresh.”

    The Guardian, UK

  • “Brilliantly chilly crime from Norwegian master Nesbø.”

    The Mirror, UK

  • “A must-read for Stieg Larsson fans, this pacey crime thriller blends enthralling storytelling with an insightful take on controversial social issues. The novel is a fresh take on traditional detective fiction, telling the tale of a serial killer dubbed ‘The Snowman’, with a gritty narrative that’s complex, intellectually satisfying and that’ll have you hooked.”

    Grazia, UK

  • “Nesbo keeps you turning the pages and if your idea of the perfect crime novel is to see Inspector Rebus investigating killings from The Silence of the Lambs, you’ll love this.”

    The Times, UK

  • “A brilliant novel: cruel and frightening /…/ Read and enjoy.”

    El País, Spain

  • “[Nesbo is] my latest favorite crime author. He is, in fact, the kind of writer I read for his literary qualities. His originality is almost never in what he tells, but how he tells it. /…/ There is something surprising in how he writes, a certain sensitivity to unusual images rare for the genre.”

    Dagens Nyheter, Sweden

  • “Guaranteed to chill you, and almost impossible to put away.”

    Svenska Dagbladet, Sweden

  • “Reading The Snowman demands something from its reader. It is aptly crafted; the type of book you would bill as an-edge-of-your-seat novel and a page-turner.”

    Nerikes Allehanda, Sweden

  • “Dramatic twists and turns, thus, and of course, terribly suspenseful /…/ A page-turner.”

    Läns-Posten, Sweden

  • “This is an author who has always been skilled at building up suspense, but with his latest novel The Snowman, he outdoes himself. /…/ Nesbo goes from strength to strength. /…/ The whole world, including the critics, seems to have discovered Jo Nesbo.”

    Västerbottens Folkblad, Sweden

  • “Read the books about Harry Hole; there are few authors in the world who write equally suspenseful crime novels these days.”

    Länstidningen Östersund, Sweden

  • “The best crime novel of the year. /…/ His crime novels about Harry Hole are beyond good; they are addictive, and have everything that a crime novel should have: different, unique characters, an accessible, driven prose, murder, suspense, blood, life stories – everything in an ambitious polyphony that sticks immediately. A polyphony that has you spellbound until the book is finished and the snow has thawed.”

    QX, Sweden

  • “We’re talking frantic, in-one-sitting reading, from first page to last. Nesbo does not disappoint his readers with The Snowman. To the reader looking for a quiet whodunnit with a quirky detective who piece by piece solves his puzzle: don’t bother. The Harry Hole mysteries offer action from the first page to the last. This is explosive stuff.”

    Östran, Sweden

  • “Brilliant storytelling…”

    Norra Västerbotten, Sweden

  • “Jo Nesbo has become a favorite among Swedish crime readers. /…/ Nesbo has a singular ability to maintain the vitality of his story, to surprise and craft genuine characters who lead distinct, individual lives. His writing is a pure pleasure to indulge in. /…/ Suspense and surprises, coupled with interesting events in his characters’ personal lives, makes it difficult to let go of the book until you’ve reached the very end.”

    Dagbladet, Sweden

  • “Nesbo’s mysteries about Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Police stand out among its competitors, by way of being more crude, sinister, and just plain terrific.”

    Smålänningen, Sweden

  • “Get ready for sleeplessness! /…/ One of the spring’s very best crime novels /…/ Nesbo is a visual storyteller who glides elegantly between his various themes.”

    Aftonbladet, Sweden

  • “A page-turner with a good dollop of darkness.”

    Dagens Industri, Sweden

  • “The result: vibrating suspense and dramatic turns throughout the book. One wrong scent after another is laid out; you are thrown off track again and again the moment you think you’ve figured out how the pieces fit together. And yet, isn’t that precisely what you look for in a truly good crime novel? Probably. Why else would Nesbo be Norway’s biggest crime author of all time, with the seven novels to date (The Snowman is his seventh) translated into 25 languages?”

    Kristianstadsbladet, Sweden

  • The Snowman is the most suspenseful Harry Hole novel that Nesbo has written to date. /…/ I very seldom experience that suspenseful books cause purely physical reactions, but this time, I noted on several occasions that I almost stopped breathing, and that my heart started to beat faster. /…/ A new Harry Hole on a high international level, and as I say the best to date.”

    Romsdals Budstikke, Norway

  • “Nesbo is only getting better and better.”

    Vi Menn, Norway

  • “Nobody will feel tricked after reading Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman. As far as I am concerned, it lives up to the expectations, both as a crime novel true to the genre, and as a testimony to the fact that Jo Nesbo is an astute writer displaying a great mastery of style – with refined intrigues and a good portion of psychological insight. /…/ Jo Nesbo definitely gives us our money’s worth.”

    Tønsbergs Blad, Norway

  • “Once again, Nesbo shows what a masterful storyteller he is. He delivers at an impetuous, careening pace, and invites the reader along in the chase. There is no cause for complaint here. The Snowman offers 439 pages of suspense that each wipes the floor with other crime fiction.”

    Bergenavisen, Norway

  • “The reader is urged forward by believable dialog, suspenseful transitions, and by the author’s urban erudition. And, of course, Nesbo’s major strength, his writing, with original descriptions of settings, characters, and atmospheres. /…/ The Snowman is the best Hole novel since Nemesis.”

    Oppland Arbeiderblad, Norway

  • “Criminally good. /…/ The Snowman is a skillfully written Hole novel, a crime story so well crafted that you simply cannot put it away. Nesbo is the Picasso of Norwegian crime; the chapters are colorful, rich in detail, beautiful and at times nicely fitted pieces that are all part of the big picture. And the big picture is not only this year’s novel, but the entire series – which is on its way to becoming the best in the history of Norwegian crime writing.”

    Stavanger Aftenblad, Norway

  • “As usual, Nesbo offers crime fiction that you must read – simply must read… Jo Nesbo is a superbly gifted craftsman when it comes to plot.”

    Vårt Land, Norway

  • “Jo Nesbo jumps down the 90 meter ski slope with his new crime novel The Snowman. Both the run, the style and the coming down score a full 20 points. /…/ A masterfully written crime story.”

    Verdens Gang, Norway

  • “Up until now, he has given us, the crime lovers, six glittering suspense novels. The seventh, The Snowman, follows in their trail. Perhaps it is even a notch better than its predecessors. I’ve said this before, and I am happy to say it again: Nobody writes better crime fiction in Scandinavia than Jo Nesbo. It is a pleasure, a pure joy, to let oneself get lost in his writing art. Such a drive, such a joy of telling! Nesbo writes in a way that has adrenaline pumping through your veins. /…/ The Snowman is the kind of book that you devour in a voracious gulp, and that stays with you long after you’ve put it away. And all that is left is a plead to the author, from all of us who are deeply hooked on Harry Hole: More, Nesbo, more!”

    Fredriksstad Blad, Norway

  • “A first-rate thriller. /…/ Jo Nesbo’s cleverness and his entirely unique ability to create complex plots is compellingly manifested in this new novel. The author has managed to write an interesting psychological novel and a thriller with lots of drive, force, and plenty of surprises.”

    Dagsavisen, Norway

  • “Jo Nesbo shows what he’s worth once again with credible characters, a suspenseful plot, teasers along the way and 400 pages of enjoyable reading. This is not only crime fiction, this is literary fiction at its very best.”

    Tjenestemannsbladet, Norway

  • “Jo Nesbo is a phenomenon. /…/ Yes, it’s true, Jo Nesbo has done it again, written a crime novel that surpasses most of what leaves the crime and thriller departments of the publishers.”

    Aftenposten, Norway

  • “First-rate crime from Nesbo. /…/ It has suspense, drive, not to mention that this is storytelling of the finest grade.”

    Avisa Nordland, Norway

  • “Jo Nesbo is a master of constructing plots. And beyond the plot, it gets worse, scarier, almost unbearable in the end. /…/ It is so well-written and so appealingly dished up that the reader will have difficulties in tearing himself away from the 400 pages+ book.”

    Fædrelandsvennen, Norway

  • “Outstanding by Nesbo.”

    Kvinner og Klær, Norway

Photo: Stian Broch Jo Nesbø
  • Crime
Reading material

Norwegian edition

English edition

German edition

French edition

Rights sold

Albania, Dudaj

Arab World, Arab Scientific

Armenia, Zangak

Azerbaijan, Qanun

Bangladesh, Chirkut Publication

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Buybook

Brazil, Record

Bulgaria, Emas

Canada, Penguin Random House

Catalonia, Proa

China, Booky (Simplified Chinese)

Croatia, Fokus

Czech Republic, Zlin

Denmark, Modtryk

Estonia, Varrak

Finland, Johnny Kniga

France, Gallimard

Georgia, Palitra

Germany, Ullstein

Greece, Metaixmio

Hungary, Animus

Iceland, Forlagid

India, Star Publications

Israel, Babel

Italy, Einaudi

Japan, Sogo Sha

Korea, Viche

Latvia, Zvaigzne ABC

Lithuania, Baltos Lankos

Netherlands, Cargo

North Macedonia, TRI

Norway, Aschehoug

Poland, Dolnoslaskie

Portugal, Dom Quixote

Romania, RAO

Romania, Trei

Russia, Inostranka

Serbia, Laguna

Slovakia, Ikar

Slovenia, Didakta

Slovenia, Mladinska

Spain, Mondadori

Sweden, Albert Bonniers

Taiwan, Azoth (Complex Chinese)

Thailand, WeLearn

Türkiye, Dogan Egmont

UK, Harvill

Ukraine, Folio

US, Knopf

Film rights sold

UK/US, Working Title / Netflix

More From Jo Nesbø

Harry Hole

Short Story Collection

Doctor Proctor

Blood on Snow