Review: The Snowman
by Jo Nesbo
This Norwegian author has been compared to Stieg Larsson, but I think he has a style that is very much his own. The central character of his series of novels is an alcoholic, but immensely talented, Oslo detective named Harry Hole. Fighting his own inner demons has given Harry a better insight into the mind of the criminals he chases, but it makes his superiors wonder if he's worth the trouble.
In this fifth novel in the series, the scene is set for a spine-chilling mystery: deep snow, the dark depths of winter, and an innocent character transformed into a menacing harbinger of doom. Snowmen appear at the scene of several horrific killings, with twisted additions like a victim's scarf tied around a snowman's neck.
Harry is puzzled by the lack of initial evidence at each scene and has a hard time determining any links between the victims. He also has a new partner that seems too good to be true. Pressure from his superiors to solve the crimes almost leads Harry to name the wrong killer, while some clues point to a member of the police force. Harry begins to wonder who he can trust and even questions his own instincts as he gets closer to the truth.
Nesbo's tales are dark and twisty and should come with a warning label to avoid reading them before bed. I should have avoided reading it during the holiday season, too, because I almost came unglued as I was driving one night and my car's headlights landed on a large blow-up snowman looming in front of my car.
One last warning: Don't start this book unless you have plenty of time set aside to read it straight through.
(2011 - Knopf Doubleday)
Recipe: Hot Chocolate
I think this drink is the only accompaniment that will do any justice to The Snowman. First of all, you're going to need something to warm you as you are reading the book. It won't be the descriptions of cold Norwegian nights that will get you, but icy spine-tingling suspense. Secondly, you'll need all the comfort that this drink can provide.
1 cup of milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ounce baking chocolate
1 cup whipping cream
Heat milk in saucepan over low heat. When it is just warm, whisk in sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and vanilla. Once that is well combined, add the baking chocolate and continue to stir. As soon as the chocolate has melted and the cocoa is hot, remove the saucepan. As it cools, beat the whipping cream with a mixer until peaks form. Then fold the cream into the hot chocolate and serve.