Saturday, May 29, 2010

Book Review: 'Snowman' by Norman Bogner

4 / 5 Stars

I remember reading ‘Snowman’ (Dell, February 1978, 221 pp.) when it was first published and thinking that it was one of the better horror / adventure novels of the mid- to late- 70s, on a par with, if indeed not superior to, more widely promoted books such as ‘The Shining’, ‘The Stand’, ‘The Fury’, and ‘Jaws’.
Norman Bogner’s Snowman is hardly a Bigfoot in white fur. Rather, he is more of an alien monster: 25 feet tall, with a hide like a rhino, a chest bristling with spikes, foot-long fangs, razor-sharp claws, and an internal body temperature that lets him tunnel through solid ice and packed snow. And to top it off, he has ‘heat vision’ capable of starting fires from any combustible material (!)
Normally the Snowman lives in the Himalaya mountains, snacking on Sherpas and yaks, but when the climate changes and his food supply runs low, he sets off across the Bering Strait and winds up in the Sierra Mountains of California. Unfortunately for the newly opened Sierra Ski Resort, the Snowman has taken up residence on the upper slopes, and as the ski season opens and the crowds arrive, the temptation of munching on a wayward snow bunny or ski instructor is just too much to ignore…
When a gruesome murder takes place on a ski trail high up the mountain, Cathy Parker, Great Northern corporation’s publicist, must move quickly to stifle news of the killing and avert a public relations disaster. There are two men who have faced the Snowman before and lived to tell the tale: ace mountain climber Dan Bradford, and his Sherpa friend and guide, Pemba. On a previous expedition on Mount Everest, Bradford had seen the Snowman wipe out his entire party in an orgy of blood and violence. But no one believed his tale of a monster that roamed the slopes at the top of the world.
Now Bradford, physically and emotionally scarred by the carnage he has witnessed, is given the chance he has waited for: to mount an expedition into the Snowman’s lair and destroy the monster. But the hunt won’t be all one-sided: with the risk of avalanche ever-present, Bradford and his team will have to forego firearms and use unconventional weapons. And the Snowman is as smart as he is ferocious…..
‘Snowman’ isn’t a perfect novel; Bogner’s prose gets a bit too adventurous with the thesaurus (using the noun ‘cwm’ or the verb ‘bedizened’ !?). But more than 30 years after its publication ‘Snowman’ holds up as an entertaining read, and fully merits promotion as one of the better horror novels of the late 70s. The Snowman deals death in memorably grisly fashion, and the narrative moves along at requisite speed. The ultimate winner of the Man Vs Snowman contest is never a sure thing, and the novel’s final 30  pages are genuinely suspenseful. ‘Snowman’ is well worth searching out.


Will Errickson said...

Wow, I've never heard of this one! Sounds kinda cool.

zybahn said...

I've just finished it and am not as enthusiastic about the novel as you wer; it was your review that led me to hunt it down (I'm not disappointed, of course, since I like being exposed to more obscure work). I was enjoying it until Bradford appeared (I don't mean the Prologue but Chapter Seven). I'll need to mull it over before posting my own review.