Smilla’s Sense of Snow – Peter Hoeg

Smilla’s Sense of Snow is Danish author Peter Hoeg’s most famous book, published in 1992. Although I don’t usually read crime and thriller novels, this book is on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, so I wanted to read it. It was one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read and reminded me why I don’t read crime novels. However, I must point out right away that Peter Hoeg’s narrative is not one that can be found in any crime novel. In this respect, the book is known as one of the interesting examples of its kind.


Smilla’s Sense of Snow starts very well and, after a while, turns into a book that begins to bore and forces the reader. It gets out of hand towards the end, and unfortunately, it ends unsatisfactorily. I was excited to read about the relationship between Smilla and the deceased Isaiah and what Smilla would experience as she searched for Isaiah’s murderer. It was also enjoyable to read about Smilla’s relationships with her parents. I enjoyed the first hundred pages as they also touched on the relationship between Greenland and Denmark.

Smilla's Sense of Snow - Peter Hoeg

But then everything changed; The book moved away from Isaiah’s death and entered a somewhat abstract and rather strange world of ships and scientists. I felt like I was watching a black and white crime drama with jazz playing in the background, with a highly complex script. After a while, I got very bored, and I forced myself to read the book just to see how it would explain Isaiah’s death. As you can imagine, I was disappointed.

As Smilla’s Sense of Snow is a crime novel, it did not satisfy me, but I have to say that I found Peter Hoeg’s style interesting. I think I can give it another chance if he writes a different book. If you want to read a cold, weird, dark crime novel from Denmark,Smilla’s Sense of Snow will be a good choice, but don’t expect a good ending. Enjoy!

Smilla's Sense of Snow - Peter Hoeg

Smilla’s Sense of Snow

Smilla’s Sense of Snow: She thinks more highly of snow and ice than she does of love.  She lives in a world of numbers, science and memories–a dark, exotic stranger in a strange land.  And now Smilla Jaspersen is convinced she has uncovered a shattering crime…

It happened in the Copenhagen snow.  A six-year-old boy, a Greenlander like Smilla, fell to his death from the top of his apartment building.  While the boy’s body is still warm, the police pronounce his death an accident.  But Smilla knows her young neighbor didn’t fall from the roof on his own.  Soon she is following a path of clues as clear to her as footsteps in the snow.  For her dead neighbor, and for herself, she must embark on a harrowing journey of lies, revelation and violence that will take her back to the world of ice and snow from which she comes, where an explosive secret waits beneath the ice…

Peter Hoeg

Peter Høeg, (born May 17, 1957, Copenhagen, Denmark), Danish author best known for his award-winning novel Frøken Smillas fornemmelse for sne (1992; Smilla’s Sense of Snow), a thriller that concerns the investigation into the death of a young boy.

In 1984 Høeg earned a master’s degree in literature from the University of Copenhagen. His first novel, Forestilling om det tyvende århundrede (1988; The History of Danish Dreams), established his reputation in Denmark. The work ranges over three and a half centuries and includes elements of magic realism, experimenting with the narrative voice and wreaking havoc with notions of time and materiality. Høeg followed his debut with Fortællinger om natten (1990; Tales of the Night), a book of complex short stories, all examining the same theme and all taking place on the same day.

Two years later he produced his international best seller Smilla’s Sense of Snow, which was translated into at least 17 languages and published in more than 30 countries. The suspenseful story details Smilla Jaspersen’s investigation into the death of her young neighbour. When the boy falls from the roof of their apartment building in Copenhagen, something about his footprints in the snow that lead to the edge of the roof causes Smilla to reject the official police finding of accidental death. Her investigation takes her to her native Greenland.Smilla’s Sense of Snow was the first of Høeg’s works to be translated into English, and it was made into a 1997 feature film starring British actress Julia Ormond as Smilla.

Following the enormous success of Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Høeg had moderate success with De måske egnede (1993; Borderliners), a story of social cruelty and of friendship among a group of outsiders at an elite private school, and Kvinden og aben (1996; The Woman and the Ape), in which the wife of an esteemed zoologist works to save an ape from death at the hands of the scientists studying him.

After a decade during which he virtually disappeared, Høeg published Den stille pige (2006; The Quiet Girl), a complex thriller about a circus clown who uses his heightened sense of hearing to search for a young girl gone missing. The novel’s poor reviews compelled Høeg to retreat further from the literary spotlight. Despite the positive reception for his 2010 book, Elefantpassernes børn (The Elephant Keepers’ Children), Høeg chose to remain out of the public eye. His next book, the thriller Effekten af Susan (2014; The Susan Effect), centres on a woman who is extremely adept at uncovering secrets.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Read Around the World, A Great Journey

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