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The Snowman's Children

The Snowman's Children

4.7 6
by Glen Hirshberg

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The Snowman's Children is a moving, psychologically intense first novel that tells the story of an incident from one man's childhood in the 1970s when a serial killer called The Snowman stalked the streets of suburban Detroit. The incident, a result of the good but woefully misguided juvenile intentions of a young boy named Mattie and his best friend, Spencer,


The Snowman's Children is a moving, psychologically intense first novel that tells the story of an incident from one man's childhood in the 1970s when a serial killer called The Snowman stalked the streets of suburban Detroit. The incident, a result of the good but woefully misguided juvenile intentions of a young boy named Mattie and his best friend, Spencer, forced Mattie's family to leave their home, and eventually forced him, at age twenty-nine, to return. The Snowman's spooky presence charges these pages with angst and dread, but The Snowman's Children is not so much a story of the killer or his victims as it is a story about the fragile nature of childhood, the final fragmentation of Detroit, and the very human longing for closure, understanding, and the love of good friends. Reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird in its poignant portrait of childhood, and infused with the beautifully written brand of suspense that calls to mind Smilla's Sense of Snow, The Snowman's Children marks the arrival of an important new voice in American literature.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hirshberg's first novel attempts a dark twist (even darker than usual) on the tale of a 1970s suburban childhood. In the winter of 1977, a serial killer dubbed "The Snowman" haunted a quiet Michigan neighborhood, preying on the town's children. Mattie Rhodes, who was 10 years old at the time and left town soon afterward, is now a directionless 27-year-old locked in a stale marriage. Unable to move forward with his life, Mattie feels compelled to return to his hometown to make sense of the past. As he attempts to reconnect with his old friend Spencer Franklin, the tragic story behind his departure is gradually revealed. Seventeen years ago, Mattie and Spencer watched their friend, the brilliant but troubled Theresa Daughrety, descend into madness, brought on not only by her encounter with the killer but by her mother's suicide and her father's overbearing presence. Mattie's reckless attempts to save Theresa spawned an unthinkable disaster. Hirshberg deftly uses hints of magic realism to depict the wintry landscape of Mattie's remembered childhood. Everything from children's names (Jon Goblin) to the games they play ("Murder in the Dark" and "Mind War") lends the book a sinister air of unreality. Hirshberg doesn't quite succeed in pulling off the sensational climax; the mysterious disaster behind Mattie's departure is implausible and unsatisfying. Nonetheless, his deft use of psychological suspense shows much promise. Though it's not as artful or subtle, the novel may remind readers of Jeffrey Eugenides's The Virgin Suicides, another eerie, nostalgic coming-of-age tale set in the 1970s Detroit suburbs. Agent, Kathy Anderson, Anderson/Grinberg Literary Management. (Dec.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A chilling debut, inspired by actual events, about a group of friends whose lives become intertwined with the stalkings of a serial killer in 1970s Detroit. After the race riots in the late 1960s, just about every white family packed up, left, and never looked back, and large parts of the city turned into a ghost town overnight. This was the strange environment that gave birth to the Snowman, a serial killer who roamed the city and its suburbs in a blue Gremlin, picking up children who would later be found drugged and dead. Narrator Mattie Rhodes was 11 in 1976, when Snowman panic was at its peak, a sixth-grader in a special program for MGMs (Mentally Gifted Minors). His best friends were Spencer Franklin (a black MGM who was bussed to Mattie’s suburban school from the city) and the brilliant, enigmatic Theresa Daughtry (daughter of a local physician). As the year progresses, Spencer and Mattie become increasingly alarmed as Theresa retreats into a private world of codes and riddles and eventually refuses to leave her home. After they enact an elaborate plot to get her out of the house, they are horrified to discover that she disappears, leaving behind a map that marks the sites of all the serial murders so far, plus several that have not yet occurred. Was she able to predict the killer’s movements based on mathematical calculations? Or does she know something from experience rather than theory? She eventually returns unharmed, but Mattie’s parents have had enough by then and move to Kentucky, kids in tow. Seventeen years later, long after the Snowman (who was never caught) is forgotten, Mattie goes back to Detroit, determined to discover the secret of Theresa’s madness. Will it be anyeasier with the benefit of hindsight? Haunting and sharply rendered: a thriller that leaves the reader even more disturbed at story’s end.

Product Details

Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.36(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.10(d)

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The Snowman's Children 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put this book down. Haunting and reminiscent of my own childhood. A must read,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Snowman's Chidren' is indeed, a serial killer novel. But it's also a coming of age tale, full of good human feelings and strong characters. Now, I'll try to tell you why Glen Hirschberg is really one of the best stylistic pens in America today. He does writes with his heart truely open for the reader. When his printer runs out of ink, he is capable of using his blood to keep telling the story. But, don't get me wrong. If you read this novel --you have to!--, be prepared to be in for a strong human experience, you won't ever forget. This is not a ghost story in the traditionnal sense, but it litterally *haunts* you. The main character went in my skeen right away, and he keeps visiting my brain ever since. I won't tell you more about the plot except it's very challanging, because when you offer a delicious cake, you don't eat half of it first! Mr. Hirschberg has a strong sense of 'atmosfear' and he is also a great plotist. Finding a writer who owns both is very rare. Only few examples come to mind : Peter Straub, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell. But this is an allusive definition of the Arts according to Glen Hirschberg. He is unique. Do yourself a favour: walk into his realm, you'll surely ask for more. The good news is that he has just finished a new novel, to be out sometime next year, or late in 2005.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel has a quiet undertatednes that belies its being a serial killer story, when actually it is much more. An insightful glimpse into the world of childhood and how children can often be understood among only each other and not adults, 'The Snowman's Children' juxtaposes its lurid happenings against this penetrating background to evoke a sense of genuine terror by the simple act of playing against it. The menace is never far from us and yet there is nothing grotesque or graphic about the tale Hirschberg tells. Indeed the Snowman story is almost incidental to the story, both past and present, of Mattie, Spencer and Theresa. But it allows Hirschberg a wonderful dramatic device to dig deeper and bring forth his darker humanistic themes. I discovered in the course of reading this novel the real life case this was based on, and I suggest readers who want to know more particulars than Hirschberg records research this topic on their own. 'The Snowman's Children' succeeds on a variety of levels, which makes it all the more disturbing and unlikely to disappear from reader memory upon finishing it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was incredible. It still haunts me. I had expected something along the lines of a typical thriller and this was quite a surprise. Read it!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am an avid reader, but I haven't read a book this engaging in a long time. The descriptive language, the character definition, plot and sub-texts are capitivating. Mr. Hirshberg has written about a piece of the child in all of us and the choices we make that affect our future that could haunt us as adults. This first novel is riveting!