26 April 2011

Review: THE LEOPARD, Jo Nesbo

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 926 KB
  • Print Length: 624 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1846554004
  • Publisher: CCV Digital (January 20, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FV4XBC
  • Source: I bought it
Hardback: 611 pages (Jan. 2011) Publisher: Harvill Secker
Translated into English by Don Bartlett

#6 of Nesbo's books to become available in English
Previously reviewed here:

Publisher's blurb
In the depths of winter, a killer stalks the city streets. His victims are two young women, both found with twenty-four inexplicable puncture wounds, both drowned in their own blood. The crime scenes offer no clues, the media is reaching fever pitch, and the police are running out of options. There is only one man who can help them, and he doesn’t want to be found. Deeply traumatised by The Snowman investigation, which threatened the lives of those he holds most dear, Inspector Harry Hole has lost himself in the squalor of Hong Kong’s opium dens. But with his father seriously ill in hospital, Harry reluctantly agrees to return to Oslo. He has no intention of working on the case, but his instinct takes over when a third victim is found brutally murdered in a city park. The victims appear completely unconnected to one another, but it’s not long before Harry makes a discovery: the women all spent the night in an isolated mountain hostel. And someone is picking off the guests one by one. A heart-stopping thriller from the bestselling author of the The Snowman, The Leopard is an international phenomenon that will grip you until the final page.

My take

I've spent a bit of time worrying about how I can review THE LEOPARD without spoilers, because, although you could read it as your first taste of Nesbo, it is really not a stand-alone. However, if you've got it's fat pages in your hands then don't let me prevent you from reading it. But it will make you want to read earlier novels particularly THE SNOWMAN and REDBREAST.

At the end of THE SNOWMAN, as the blurb says, Harry Hole, deeply traumatised, resigned from the Crime Squad, and took off for Hong Kong where he attempted to lose himself. The only detective in Norway who has any experience in dealing with serial killers is Harry Hole, and that is why Politioverbetjent Gunnar Hagen wants him back. He sends an officer to Hong Kong to find Harry and bring him back. But it is the news that his father is dying that puts Harry on that plane.

But solving this case is more urgent than just stopping a serial killer. A long standing battle has re-surfaced, not just good versus evil. The Minister of Justice is wondering yet again why he is paying for two criminal investigation units.
    It’s all about cuts and rationalisation in the force. About jurisdiction. The old fight, Crime Squad versus Kripos. Whether there are enough resources for two specialist branches with parallel expertise in a small country. The discussion flared up when Kripos got a new second in command, one Mikael Bellman.
It's a battle that Gunnar Hagen wants to win, and finding and stopping a serial killer will do it.

THE LEOPARD is seriously noir, not for the faint-hearted. There are descriptions of torture that will take your breath away. Things that Harry does to himself that will nearly make your heart stop. But you'll keep reading because you'll want to know how it all turns out.

I thought I got a better vision of Harry Hole, saw him in a clearer light in THE LEOPARD. He felt a bit more human too.
    ..... the man who was a living legend not just at Oslo Police HQ but in every police station across Norway, for good or ill. .......He liked Harry Hole, had liked him from the first moment he had clapped eyes on the tall, athletic, but obviously alcoholic Norwegian stepping into Happy Valley to put his last money on the wrong horse. There was something about the aggressive expression, the arrogant bearing, the alert body language that reminded him of himself ..
    A driven man. A junkie. A man who does what he must to have what he wants, who walks over dead bodies if need be.
    He couldn’t care less about personal prestige, he only wants to catch the bad boys. All the bad boys.
The other thing that seems to emerge more for me in THE LEOPARD was Jo Nesbo, through his characters, considering criminological and philiosophical issues.
    What is it, where is it, whatever it is that makes a murderer? Is it innate, is it in a gene, inherited potential that some have and others do not? Or is it shaped by need, developed in a confrontation with the world, a survival strategy, a life-saving sickness, rational insanity? For just as sickness is a fevered bombardment of the body, insanity is a vital retreat to a place where one can entrench oneself anew. For my part, I believe that the ability to kill is fundamental to any healthy person.
and again
    That was what life was: a process of destruction, a disintegration from what at the outset was perfect. The only suspense involved was whether we would be destroyed in one sudden act or slowly.
Perhaps it has always been there in previous novels, but I've just missed seeing it.

A great read, if just a bit long. By the end, I really did want it to finish.
My rating: 4.8

Other reviews to check:
Where I'm "counting" this book:


Kay said...

I'm hearing so many good things about this series, I need to read it. The first one is REDBREAST, yes? Soon.

Marce said...

I am so intrigued with this author, I have got to get my hands on The Snowman. I meant to check the US Kindle form, need to do that now.

Great review. Even though I have to say 624 pages is a chunkster.


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