Extract: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
The Snowman is a chilling, sinister thriller by Jo Nesbo, and one of our favourite novels starring Harry Hole. Ever since we first met Harry in The Bat, we’ve been desperate to see him up on the big screen – and later this year our prayers will finally be answered as The Snowman is released in cinemas and Michael Fassbender takes up the role of our favourite Oslo detective.
A young boy wakes to find his mother missing. Their house is empty but outside in the garden he sees his mother’s favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of a snowman. As Harry Hole and his team begin their investigation they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years.
When a second woman disappears it seems that Harry’s worst suspicions are confirmed: for the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his home turf.
If you’re yet to read The Snowman, now is the perfect time. Read on for an extract from the book!
Harry woke up and lay on his back staring at the ceiling. How long had he been asleep? He turned and looked at the clock on his bedside table. A quarter to four. The dinner had been an ordeal. He had watched Rakel’s mouth speaking, drinking wine, chewing meat and devouring him as she told him about how she and Mathias were going to Botswana for a couple of years where the government had a good set-up in place to fight HIV but were short of doctors. She had asked whether he had met anyone. And he had answered that he had met his childhood pals, Øystein and Tresko. The former was an alkie, taxi-driving computer freak; the latter an alkie gambler who would have been the world poker champion if he had been as good at maintaining his own poker face as he was at reading others’. He had even begun to tell her about Tresko’s fatal defeat in theworld championships in Las Vegas before he realised he had told her before.
And it wasn’t true that he had met them. He hadn’t met anyone.
He had seen the waiter pouring booze into the glasses on the adjacent table and for one crazy moment he had been on the point of tearing the bottle out of his hands and putting it to his mouth. Instead he had agreed to take Oleg to a concert he had begged Rakel to let him see. Slipknot. Harry had omitted to tell her what kind of band she was letting loose on her son, since he fancied seeing Slipknot himself. Even though bands with the obligatory death rattle, satanic symbols and speeded-up bass drum usually made him laugh, Slipknot was in fact interesting.
Harry threw off the duvet and went into the kitchen, let the water fromthe tap run cold, cupped his hands and drank. He had always thought water tasted better like that, drunk from his own hands, off his own skin. Then he suddenly let the water run into the sink again and stared at the black wall. Had he seen anything? Something moving? No, not a thing, just movement itself, like the invisible waves underwater that caress the seagrass. Over dead fibres, fingers so thin that they can’t be seen, spores that rise at the smallest movement of air and settle in new areas and begin to eat and suck. Harry switched on the radio in the sitting room. It had been decided. George W. Bush had been given another
term in the White House.
Harry went back to bed and pulled the duvet over his head.
Jonas was awoken by a sound and lifted the duvet off his face. At least he thought it had been a sound. A crunching sound, like sticky snow underfoot in the silence between the houses on a Sunday morning. He must have been dreaming. But sleep would not return even when he closed his eyes. Instead fragments of the dream came back to him. Dad had been standing motionless and silent in front of him with a reflection in his glasses that lent them an impenetrable ice-like surface.
It must have been a nightmare, because Jonas was scared. He opened his eyes again and saw that the chimes hanging from the ceiling were moving. Then he jumped out of bed, opened the door and ran across the corridor. By the stairs to the ground floor he managed to stop himself looking down into the darkness and didn’t pause until he was in front of his parents’ bedroom and pressing down the handle with infinite caution. Then he remembered that his dad was away, and he would wake his mum whatever he did. He slipped inside. A white square of moonlight extended across the floor to the undisturbed double bed. The numbers on the digital alarm clock were lit up: 01.11. For a moment Jonas stood there, bewildered.
Then he went out into the corridor. He walked towards the staircase. The darkness of the stairs lay there waiting for him, like a vast open void. Not a sound could be heard from down below.
He regretted shouting the moment he heard his own terror in the brief, harsh echo. For now it knew, too. The darkness.
There was no answer.
Jonas swallowed. Then he began to tiptoe down the stairs.
On the third step he felt something wet under his feet. The same on the sixth. And the eighth. As if someone had been walking with wet shoes. Or wet feet.
In the living room the light was on, but there was no Mummy. He went to the window to look at the Bendiksens’ house. Mummy occasionally went over to see Ebba. But all the windows were dark.
He walked into the kitchen and over to the telephone, successfully keeping his thoughts at bay, not letting the darkness in. He dialled his mother’s mobile phone number. And was jubilant to hear her soft voice. But it was a message asking him to leave his name and wishing him a nice day.
And it wasn’t day, it was night.
In the porch he stuffed his feet into a pair of his father’s large shoes, put on a padded jacket over his pyjamas and went outside. Mum had said the snow would be gone by tomorrow, but it was still cold, and a light wind whispered and mumbled in the oak tree by the gate. It was no more than a hundred metres to the Bendiksens’ house, and fortunately there were two street lamps on the way. She had to be there. He glanced to the left and to the right to make sure there was no one who could stop him. Then he caught sight of the snowman. It stood there as before, immovable, facing the house, bathed in the cold moonlight. Yet there was something different about it, something almost human, something familiar. Jonas looked at the Bendiksens’ house. He decided to run. But he didn’t. Instead he stood feeling the tentative, ice-cold wind go right through him. He turned slowly back to the snowman. Now he realised what it was that had made the snowman so familiar. It was wearing a scarf. A pink scarf. The scarf Jonas had given his mother for Christmas.