Dirty Snow

Dirty Snow

Book - 2003
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Nineteen-year-old Frank Friedmaier lives in a country under occupation. Most people struggle to get by; Frank takes it easy in his mother's whorehouse, which caters to members of the occupying forces. But Frank is restless. He is a pimp, a thug, a petty thief, and, as Dirty Snow opens, he has just killed his first man. Through the unrelenting darkness and cold of an endless winter, Frank will pursue abjection until at last there is nowhere to go.


Hans Koning has described Dirty Snow as "one of the very few novels to come out of German-occupied France that gets it exactly right." In a study of the criminal mind that is comparable to Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me , Simenon maps a no man's land of the spirit in which human nature is driven to destruction--and redemption, perhaps, as well--by forces beyond its control.

Publisher: New York :, New York Review Books,, 2003.
ISBN: 9781590170434
Branch Call Number: M SIME
Characteristics: 257 pages ; 21 cm.
Additional Contributors: Romano, Marc

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Jan 24, 2019

The "Dirty Snow" is more a literary novel (think Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment" or Camus' "The Stranger") than it is a straight up crime novel. Oh, there's plenty of crime, as bored punk Frank Friedmaier starts a brief, violent crime spree somewhere in Nazi occupied France. Frank, in some vague, indistinct way, is looking to make his mark or find an identity. His mother, Lotte, is running a whore house (or apartment), and Frank can have is choice of whoever is on duty. Frank also eats well (unlike so many others), and always has a roll of cash to spend at the local bar. But that's not enough. When he commits his first murder, it's as devoid of meaning as Frank is himself. Given his choice of victim, one could easily see everything Frank does in the novel as something of a death wish. He projects the contempt he has for himself onto others (most of whom deserve it). But when a young girl falls in love with him, he commits, even for him, an unpardonable sin, which, in Simenon's hands is, by novel's end, in fact pardonable. The human heart, even for the most vile, is still a mysterious thing. Grim stuff, but highly recommended.

May 08, 2018

Never has there been a character so aggressive in his submission to what he calls ‘destiny’. Frank Friedmaier compulsively seeks out his destiny, which he expects to pounce on him at any moment, by blackening his life with random acts of evil that ensure the dark destiny that he then pretends to submit to.

His ongoing ruminations about destiny go hand in glove with his paranoia. Frank lives at the intersection of various semi-secret societies and conspiracies, his mother’s beauty spa, which is a front for a whorehouse, his local club, Timo’s, which is the nexus of various criminal groups; his connections through Kromer to corrupt military officers; his own criminal activities; the local terrorist and patriots’ groups. “All functionaries are freemasons” he tells us.

He refuses to accept the love his mother, of Minna and of Sissy.

The novel appears to seek a redemptive moment for Frank, but Frank refuses it. In his ‘confession’ he tells his interrogator about his “shameful” acts: “I committed the worst crime in the world,” not for any purpose, but because “I am a piece of shit.”

massabielle Aug 10, 2011

This was my first in my summer read (2011) and I just fell hard for Simenon style of writing. It is so interesting how he expresses the mindset of the main character. It is a deeply honest and unapologetic view of the "criminal mind".


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