The Snowman by Jo Nesbø
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Imagine if Stieg Larsson undertook a modern version of an Agatha Christie novel, and threw in a dash of Stephen King. You might end up with something like The Snowman.
Apparently The Snowman is #7 in Jo Nesbø's detective series, but this one -- I can't speak for the others -- stands pretty well on its own. There are some references to earlier cases the detective has made, but they're well-explained enough that I was up to speed pretty quickly.
I do hate that the star detective is named Harry Hole. I'm sure it's my fault that my mind drifts into the gutter, but throughout the whole book I kept thinking it was a name better suited for a second-rate porn star. I even tried imagining that his name was Høle (disclaimer: I have no idea whether that changes the pronunciation or not) so that I could blame it on an unfortunate Norwegian-English cognate.
I thought twice that I had guessed the killer's identity, and I turned out to be wrong both times, so the plot twists were well done. Unfortunately, the detectives also think they've caught the killer a couple of times, so I got a little tired of the CLIMAX-WE-CAUGHT-THE-KILLER-no-wait-just-kidding-anticlimax roller-coaster. I used to be a fairly hardcore Agatha Christie fan back in the day, and I don't remember ever thinking the mystery was solved halfway through and wondering what on earth the rest of the book was about.
Still, a snowman murder mystery with a dash of horror made the perfect Halloween/hurricane read. I recommend it for a chilly night when you can read it through in one sitting -- perhaps when the children next door have built a creepy snowman that seems to be watching you...