The Leopard by Jo Nesbo
Honestly I only picked up this latest book by Jo Nesbo when paying for five other books I had selected. And it was only when the cashier brought it to my attention – $5 when I spend $10 or more, why not?! I didn’t expect much as I’d never heard of Jo Nesbo – put it down to my inexperience with Norwegian crime writers, with Stieg Larsson being the only one I’ve read – but when I turned to the first page for a quick skim, I ended up going to sleep at 3am that night, so caught up I was.
The story opens with a grisly scene murder scene where the victim’s desperation seemed to seep through the pages. It then jumps toHong Kong where a chain smoking, alcoholic, depressed and drug addicted Detective Harry Hole has fled after the trauma involved in solving his previous case (The Snowman).
When beautiful Detective Kaja Solness finds him and persuades him to return to Oslo with her to help them with the murder case, the story takes off into an intricate plot with so many twists and turns, I was convinced several times that I definitely knew who the killer was (while wondering how can I be only at half the book when so much has already happened) until I learned to stop guessing.
Hole’s investigation of what became a series of murders takes him from isolated towns in Norway to volcanoes in Africa, always coming back to the ever cold with snow and more snow (I enjoyed picturing the cold as I was in the UK while reading this… puts me right there in the unfolding mystery). The murders are described in gruesome detail, with a scene near the end which actually made me feel sick.
With this book, I find that the intrigue is only half the lure, with Harry Hole being the other half. His character in ‘the Leopard’ has actually been built up over the course of five previous books, with this being the sixth. His devil may care, kick-ass style of crime solving is entertaining at the very least. He is smoking every second page (not cool if you’re trying to quit) or so, and his scarred raggedness seems to be surprisingly attractive to the women around him. He is brilliant, tough, reckless, obsessive and unexpectedly principled. There are many references to his previous case “The Snowman”, when explaining his current morose demeanor, or the attitude of people towards him. It seems that his solving of the case in ‘The Snowman’ had earned him a reputation close to legendary… or maybe I should say notorious.
Only after I had finished the book did I realize that it was a part of a series. To fully understand the character of Harry Hole, you’d should read the books in the sequence they are meant to be read:
The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil’s Star, The Redeemer, The Snowman, and finally The Leopard.
Myself, I got introduced to Harry in The Leopard. That’s fine if I want to leave it as a stand alone story, but as I really want to know what happened in ‘The Snowman’, I figured I might as well get the whole history. So until I have found books 2 & 3, I won’t be touching the other 3 books sitting on my shelf.
My recommendation? Well I’m usually more of a fantasy reader myself, but in this case, when Harry Hole is performing, I cant look away
Editor’s Note: This book review is brought to you all the way from Brunei! CK is a dear dear friend who read a lot of deep deep books, half of which I do not understand or even heard of.
BookDeprived’s verdict: Harry Hole’s getting better?
Difficulty to Read: Normal
Suitable for: Crime readers
Malaysia Price: about MYR 35++
ISBN number: 978-0099563648
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