Jo Nesbo’s Katrine Bratt is mine.
When reading, the mind conjures many questions that keep us turning the pages. What killer makes your skin crawl? What quirks are in the mindset of an obsessive compulsive serial murder? Why do killers need to fill a scene with symbolic clues that torment the prime investigator?
These and more questions come to mind in The Snowman, by Jo Nesbo.
Harry Hole is a police officer in the Oslo Crime Squad. Tall, lanky and with light blue eyes, his investigative approach often leaves him worn down, at his wit’s end, and in need of a bath. Yet behind that there’s a remarkable ability to multi-task as he negotiates the various players, leads, and far-flung locations in a case. Sometimes he juggles various aspects of a case alongside a love interest, and his personal and professional lives are mangled together. His superior in the Oslo police, Bjarne Møller, backs Harry, despite his madcap investigative style.
In Oslo, autumn’s unexpected snowfall has citizens on pause, as does the presence of a snowman at a number of murder season. Harry shares the focus of this investigation and the killer’s symbolic use of snowmmen with his most competent partner in crime, Katrine Bratt. On the back burner is his love interest, Rakel, who contributes to his case from the confines of the bedroom and Harry’s mind. Harry detests signs of corruption, and this case leads into the seediest locations, where drug deals go down on the East Side of Oslo. This is a well-known neighborhood, characterized by all night bars and drug deals among the worst of the newly rich.
A power broker in the news arena, Arve Støp, is one person of interest; he may have been on the wrong side of town at the wrong time. As the Snowman recedes from the limelight, Støp leaves Harry in limbo, ‘taking the fifth’ on sharing what the media has on several suspects. Only, Harry has leaked out on the media rogue’s live talk show that the Snowman is at large. Støp is at the mercy of the police to solve the murder until Bratt goes missing. Harry can’t account for her whereabouts. Bratt is not inside the investigation, she is inside Harry’s head and proves critical to the ultimate resolution.
Nesbo’s series continues with Leopard. It takes Harry to Africa, in search of connections to the next serial murder in Oslo. He revisits the Snowman, the death of his father, his relations with Rakel and the all too familiar sounds of a madman.
I am Susan Hansen, Adult Services Librarian at NOPL at Cicero. Join NOPL for a discussion of your favorite sleuths and killers at our Books to Die For Discussion Group which meets the third Wednesday of each month at 6 pm (right now we’re meeting virtually on Zoom).