Jo Nesbo

The Leopard

"'...a considerable piece of work...'"


Harry Hole has buried himself in the sleazy depths of Hong Kong in order to forget the harrowing times he and his loved ones, Rakel and Oleg, suffered during his investigation into the serial murderer called “The Snowman”. He has left his position as Inspector in the Crime Squad of Oslo’s police force and abandoned himself to indulging his weaknesses and predilection for alcohol and now opium. Physically he is in very poor shape. He is called back to Norway by his old chief, Gunar Hagen, in order to solve a case involving two murdered girls. He is rescued from the predicament into which he has sunk by the young attractive detective, Kaja Solness. He is persuaded to return , not by loyalty to his boss, but because his father is seriously ill in hospital.

As he slowly reintegrates into Norwegian life, at the same time rediscovering a love for his city, he is drawn into the investigation, and the compulsive power of finding the killer takes him over. More murders are committed, with apparently little to connect them until Harry traces a common link in a skiing cabin high in the frozen wastes of the countryside. He uses his contacts and calls in many favours before, after many twists and turns right up to the very end the perpetrator of the crimes is brought down.

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This is a substantial and very complex story, beautifully written and compelling reading. Harry Hole is a wonderful character; a completely driven man and an addictive personality. He has had an ongoing battle with alcoholism in the previous books. This time he has added opium to his drugs of choice - although he believes he is not addicted. But the most powerful addiction he has is to rooting out the killers and seeing them punished. To this end he will sacrifice almost anything, including his own personal happiness. His greatest loyalty is to the police - “it’s all I have. It’s my tribe. “ He never loses complete hope that one day he will achieve happiness, but always something happens to prevent it. Something that I particularly noticed in this book is the beautiful and vivid description of the countryside and cities of Norway. Often a moment is frozen in time, particularly when there is a critical point in the action. It’s as if all senses are enhanced by the danger and excitement of the plot. Other fine details of characters’ appearances help to bring them all to life. The interaction between the sophisticated city dwellers and their rural cousins is common to many countries but Nesbo describes Norway’s version with great sympathy and humour. Then comes the plot: it is a magnificent many-layered construction that keeps you guessing right up to the end. There are many strands that interweave, and many characters who interact in the past and the present. The solution lies in the past and it takes Hole’s determination to find it that allows him to visit the cause of many of his own personal tragedies. I absolutely loved this book, and it is a considerable piece of work that will keep you enthralled to the end. Just the thing for the long winter evenings of January.

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