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Mystery Book Club - Past Titles: Dec. 2022

Titles from the Mystery Book Club at the Islington Branch *No longer an active club*

"The Snowman" by Jo Nesbø

  1. Did you like the book? Why or why not? 

  2. Did the Norwegian/Oslo setting affect the story? Did it make it easier or harder to read? Why does Nesbo reference American elections in a book set in Norway?

  3. Jo Nesbo was able to take a snowman, a much loved, innocent object, and make it ominous. Did you think this added to the eeriness of the novel? Will you look differently at snowmen from now on?

  4. "Too many people have disappeared.” How does one make a case for criminal activity if there are no hard facts?

  5. Rakel, Skarre, and Hagen offer succinct descriptions of Harry and what motivates him. Can Harry’s “anger and the desire for revenge” and his history of alcoholism be attributed to his experiences as a police detective or are they personal flaws?

  6. Do you agree with Hagen’s comparison between Harry and military leaders and his assertion that "There’s a strong social urge in man to be needed...You want this case to be special. You want it so much that you can see the blackest of the black"?

  7. Why does Harry take Oleg to the Slipknot concert (even though he is no longer seeing Rakel, Oleg’s mother)?

  8. Why did the Snowman choose Harry to “compete” with?

  9. Why did the killer turn Rafto into a snowman?

  10. Was destroying the neighbor kid’s snowman outside of Harry’s apartment a normal reaction or a sign of something else? Would you have destroyed it?

  11. Why do you think Harry announced (on the talk show) that the Snowman was not caught after his superiors specifically told him not to?

  12. Why do you think Harry did not suspect Katrine’s motives earlier?

  13. There were a large number of suspects in this investigation, and the name of the serial killer was wrongly announced a couple of times. Did you find the number of people confusing or did it spice up the suspense of the storyline? Why? 

  14. What did you think of the way the “missing” women’s bodies were hidden?

  15. After the killer is revealed, you are given a glimpse of how his life began and the event in his young life that pushed him over the edge. Do you think if that event had not happened, he would never have become a killer? Or was he inherently evil?

  16. Why did Mathias plan to end his life the way he did? What do you think of that decision?

  17. Did you figure out who the Snowman was?  Did you ever have doubts?

  18. Why was Katrine Bratt walking around with an empty revolver? What does that say about her?

  19. What do you think of the statement, “The more aged I become, the more I tend to view that evil is evil, mental illness or no. We’re all more or less disposed to evil actions, but our disposition cannot exonerate us. For heaven’s sake, we’re all sick with personality disorders. And it’s our actions that define how sick we are.” 

  20. Did Harry make the right decision in regard to Rakel? In regards to Mathias?

  21. Toward the end of the book, Aune says, “What is worse? Taking the life of a person who wants to live or taking death from a person who wants to die?” What do you think?

  22. Jo Nesbo is one of several Scandinavian crime fiction authors who are increasingly popular in this country. In what ways does “The Snowman,” as well as works by Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell, and Maj Sjowall, differ from American thrillers? What qualities, if any, distinguish Harry and his colleagues from the detectives depicted in American books, television shows, and movies?

  23. This is book 7 in the series. Will you read other books in the Harry Hole series?

  • Jo Nesbø is the author of the Harry Hole series

  • Born March 29, 1960, in Oslo, Norway (Britannica)

  • Nesbø grew up in Molde, western Norway. (Britannica)

  • While in school, he also played guitar and sang in a pop-rock band. (Britannica) 

  • He graduated from the Norwegian School of Economics (Norges Handelshøyskole) in Bergen with a degree in economics. (Britannica)

  • After graduating, he took a job as a stockbroker while maintaining a vision of himself as a singer-songwriter. (Britannica)

  • In 1992 he helped start a band named Di Derre, which recorded several albums. 

    • Working at a stressful day job and performing with his increasingly popular band at night eventually took its toll on Nesbø. 

    • When someone made a casual suggestion that he write a book about traveling with the band, he took it as a challenge, asked for six months off, went to Australia, and returned with what would become his first Harry Hole novel. (Britannica)

  • Nesbø’s Hole series proved to be extremely popular and was translated into many languages. 

    • Its popularity was in part because of tight plotting and in part because of Nesbø’s method of presenting his main character. 

    • Throughout the series, Hole battles his demons, sometimes successfully but more often not. 

    • Each successive volume deepens the reader’s experience with Hole and his life on the edge. 

      • Furthermore, the later books refer to incidents in the earlier books, another effect that adds dimension to Hole’s deeply flawed but essentially sympathetic personality. (Britannica)

  • Nesbø’s long essay “Figures in the Balkans” was published in 1999 with another long essay by Espen Søbye about the authors’ trip to Serbia and Norway’s role in the NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1999. (Britannica

  • In 2013 in Minneapolis, Jo went to a climbing center and pulled a muscle in his back. 

    • Jo woke up the next day, managed to get himself out of bed, bent double, and was told that Hurricane Sandy had hit New York, so he had to stay in Minneapolis. 

    • He just couldn’t think of anything else to do apart from going back to the climbing center. 

      • He had to be carried out. Quite literally. His back was in agony and would only get worse over the next two months. (Autobiography)

  • Nesbø also produced several stand-alone books

  • The Snowman was released in June 2007. 

    • Not only was it unheard of to release a book in the middle of summer - after all, it was generally agreed in the Norwegian publishing world that books with a certain sales potential should be released in the fall - but was it really going to be called The Snowman? (Autobiography)

  • Again reviews were positive, and The Snowman was to become the fastest-selling novel in Norwegian history. (Autobiography)

  • All the same, 2007 was a fantastic year for him. Jo was awarded the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize for the second time, this time for The Snowman. (Autobiography)

  • The Snowman made its way onto the New York Times bestseller list in the summer of 2011 (Autobiography)

  • "The only pressure I feel is to write good books. And to not replicate the previous book. Whether you have a thousand readers or a million readers it doesn't change the pressure. I never feel tempted to give the reader what I think the reader wants." (The Guardian, 2012)

  • "Crime fiction is a genre for writing stories about people - about conflict, about guilt, about passion, about the human condition." (Los Angeles Times, 1994)

Jo Nesbo on Writing for Penguin Random House

The Snowman (2017)

  • Not a very well-reviewed movie

  • 18% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes

  • Harry Hole–Inspector in the Oslo Crime Squad; former alcoholic.

  • Katrine Bratt –New officer in Harry’s squad.

  • Rakel Fauke–Harry’s ex-girlfriend. 

  • Oleg Fauke –Rakel’s son.

  • Mathias –Rakel’s current fiancé; doctor.

  • Mangus Skarre–Officer in the Crime Squad. Looking up missing person cases.

  • POB Gunner Hagen –Harry’s boss. Head of the Crime Squad.

  • Bjorn Holm –Officer on Harry’s team; from the forensic unit.

  • Jonas Becker –a 10-year-old boy whose mom (Birte) disappeared. Lives with his father Filip.

  • Gert (Iron) Rafto –inspector.  Was a rising star in office until a police brutality charge. Received a message from Laila Aasen’s killer.

  • Eespen Lepsvik –Police officer. Experienced in leading large task forces.

  • Dr. Idar Vetlesen–Plastic surgeon.

  • Borghild–Dr Vettlesen’s receptionist.

  • Camilla Lossous–Husband Eric; interacted in the garage with Filip Baker

  • Arve Stop –Journalist and newspaper owner.

  • Asbjorn Treschow –(Tresko) –Old acquaintance of Harry’s. Poker player.

  • Beate Lonn –Wife of Harry’s late partner, Halvorsen.  Police officer; head of the forensics unit.

  • Bosse Egan –TV host of Bosse, a talk show.

  • Oda Paulsen –Talent scout; finds guests for Bosse.

  • Stale Aune –Crime Squad’s psychologist; sick and in the hospital.

  • November 5, 1980

    • The first snowman 

  • November 4, 1992

    • Laila Aasen murdered

      • Chopped to pieces

      • Her husband is Bastian. 

      • Onny Heland is a friend.

      • Gert Rafto investigates.

  • November 2, 2004

    • Birdie Becker disappears

      • Son is Jonas. 

      • Her husband is Filip.

    • Sylvia Ottersenis murdered.

      • The daughters are Emma and Olga. 

      • Husband is Rolf.

      • The Head is attached to a snowman

    • Eli Kvale disappears

      • Andreas is her husband. 

      • Son is Trygve.


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