The Leopard (Harry Hole Series #8)

The Leopard (Harry Hole Series #8)


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Inspector Harry Hole returns from Hong Kong hot on the trail of a serial killer in this installment of Jo Nesbø’s New York Times bestselling series.

Inspector Harry Hole has retreated to Hong Kong, escaping the trauma of his last case in squalid opium dens, when two young women are found dead in Oslo, both drowned in their own blood. Media coverage quickly reaches a fever pitch. There are no clues, the police investigation is stalled, and Harry—the one man who might be able to help—can’t be found. After he returns to Oslo, the killer strikes again, Harry’s instincts take over, and nothing can keep him from the investigation, though there is little to go on. Worse, he will soon come to understand that he is dealing with a psychopath who will put him to the test, both professionally and personally, as never before.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307743183
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/26/2012
Series: Harry Hole Series , #8
Pages: 688
Sales rank: 104,462
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Jo Nesbø’s books, translated into forty languages, have sold more than eight million copies worldwide. His previous Harry Hole novels include The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil’s Star, and The Snowman, and he is the author of Headhunters and several children’s books. He has received the Glass Key Award for best Nordic crime novel. He is also a musician, songwriter, and economist and lives in Oslo.

Read an Excerpt


The Drowning

She awoke. Blinked in the pitch darkness. Yawned, and breathed through her nose. She blinked again. Felt a tear run down her face, felt it dissolve the salt of other tears. But saliva was no longer entering her throat; her mouth was dry and hard. Her cheeks were forced out by the pressure from inside. The foreign body in her mouth felt as though it would explode her head. But what was it? What was it? The first thing she thought when she awoke was that she wanted to go back. Back into the dark, warm depths that had enveloped her. The injection he had given her had not worn off yet, but she knew pain was on the way, felt it coming in the slow, dull beat of her pulse and the jerky flow of blood through her brain. Where was he? Was he standing right behind her? She held her breath, listened. She couldn't hear anything, but she could sense a presence. Like a leopard. Someone had told her leopards made so little noise they could sneak right up to their prey in the dark. They could regulate their breathing so that it was in tune with yours. Could hold their breath when you held yours. She was certain she could feel his body heat. What was he waiting for? She exhaled again. And at that same moment was sure she had felt breath on her neck. She whirled around, hit out, but was met by air. She hunched up, tried to make herself small, to hide. Pointless.

How long had she been unconscious?

The drug was wearing off. The sensation lasted only for a fraction of a second. But it was enough to give her the foretaste, the promise. The promise of what was to come.

The foreign body placed on the table in front of her had been the size of a billiard ball, made of shiny metal with punched-out small holes and figures and symbols. From one of the holes protruded a red wire with a looped end, which instantly made her think of the Christmas tree that would need decorating at her parents' house on December 23, in seven days. With shiny balls, Christmas pixies, hearts, candles and Norwegian flags. In eight days they would be singing a traditional Christmas carol, and she would see the twinkling eyes of her nephews and nieces as they opened their presents. All the things she should have done differently. All the days she should have lived to the full, avoiding escapism, should have filled with happiness, breath and love. The places she had merely traveled through, the places she was planning to visit. The men she had met, the man she had still not met. The fetus she had gotten rid of when she was seventeen, the children she had not yet had. The days she had wasted for the days she thought she would have.

Then she had stopped thinking about anything except the knife that had been brandished before her. And the gentle voice that had told her to put the ball in her mouth. She had done so; of course she had. With her heart thumping she had opened her mouth as wide as she could and pushed the ball in, with the wire left hanging outside. The metal tasted bitter and salty, like tears. Then her head had been forced back, and the steel burned against her skin as the knife was laid flat against her throat. The ceiling and the room were illuminated by a standard lamp, leaning against the wall in one of the corners. Bare, gray concrete. Apart from the lamp, the room contained a white plastic picnic table, two chairs, two empty beer bottles and two people. Him and her. She smelled a leather glove as a finger tugged lightly at the red loop hanging from her mouth. And the next moment her head seemed to explode.

The ball had expanded and forced itself against the inside of her mouth. But however wide she opened her jaws, the pressure was constant. He had examined her with a concentrated, engaged expression, like an orthodontist checking to see whether the braces were fitting as they should. A little smile intimated satisfaction.

With her tongue she could feel circular ridges around the holes in the ball, and that was what was pressing against her palate, against the soft flesh of her tongue, against her teeth, against the uvula. She had tried to say something. He had listened patiently to the inarticulate sounds emerging from her mouth. Had nodded when she gave up, and had taken out a syringe. The drop on the tip had glinted in the flashlight's beam. He had whispered something in her ear: "Don't touch the wire."

Then he had injected her in the neck. She was out in seconds.

. . .

She listened to her own terrified breathing as she blinked in the darkness.

She had to do something.

She placed her palms on the chair seat, which was clammy from her perspiration, and pushed herself up. No one stopped her.

She advanced with tiny steps until she hit a wall. Groped her way along to a smooth, cold surface. The metal door. She pulled at the bolt. It didn't budge. Locked. Of course it was locked. What had she been thinking? Was that laughter she could hear, or was the sound coming from inside her head? Where was he? Why was he playing with her like this?

Do something. Think. But to think, she would first have to get rid of this metal ball before the pain drove her insane. She put her thumb and first finger in the corners of her mouth. Felt the ridges. Tried in vain to get her fingers under one of them. Had a coughing fit and a panic attack when she couldn't breathe. She realized that the ridges had made the flesh around her windpipe swell, that soon she would be in danger of suffocating. She kicked the metal door, tried to scream, but the ball stifled the sound. She gave up again. Leaned against the wall. Listened. Was that his wary tread she could hear? Was he moving around the room? Was he playing blindman's buff with her? Or was it her blood throbbing past her ears? She steeled herself against the pain and forced her mouth shut. The ridges were hardly down before they sprang back and forced her mouth open again. The ball seemed to be pulsating now, as though it had become an iron heart, a part of her.

Do something. Think.

Springs. The ridges were spring-loaded.

They had jumped up when he pulled the wire.

"Don't touch the wire," he had said.

Why not? What would happen?

She slid down the wall until she was sitting. Cold damp rose from the concrete floor. She wanted to scream again, but she couldn't. Quiet. Silence.

All the things she should have said to those she loved, instead of the words that had served to fill the silence with those to whom she was indifferent.

There was no way out. There was just her and this unbelievable pain, her head exploding.

"Don't touch the wire."

If she pulled it, the ridges might retract into the ball, and she would be spared the pain.

Her thoughts ran in the same circles. How long had she been here? Two hours? Eight hours? Twenty minutes?

If all she had to do was pull the wire, why hadn't she already done it? Because the warning had been given by an obvious sicko? Or was this part of the game? Being tricked into resisting the temptation to stop this quite unnecessary pain? Or was the game about defying the warning and pulling the wire, causing . . . causing something dreadful to happen? What would happen? What was this ball?

Yes, it was a game, a brutal game. And she had to play. The pain was intolerable, her throat was swelling; soon she would suffocate.

She tried to scream again, but it subsided into a sob, and she blinked and blinked, without producing any further tears.

Her fingers found the string hanging from her lips. She pulled tentatively until it was taut.

There was so much she regretted not having done, naturally. But if a life of self-denial would have placed her anywhere else besides here, right now, she would have chosen that. She just wanted to live. Any sort of life. As simple as that.

She pulled the wire.

The needles shot out of the circular ridges. They were two and a half inches long. Four burst through her cheeks on each side, three into the sinuses, two up the nasal passages and two out through the chin. Two needles pierced the windpipe and one the right eye, one the left. Several needles penetrated the rear part of the palate and reached the brain. But that was not the direct cause of her death. Because the metal ball impeded movement, she was unable to spit out the blood pouring from the wounds into her mouth. Instead it ran down her windpipe and into her lungs, not allowing oxygen to be absorbed into her bloodstream, which in turn led to cardiac arrest and what the pathologist would call in his report cerebral hypoxia-that is, lack of oxygen to her brain. In other words, Borgny Stem-Myhre drowned.


The Illuminating Darkness


The days are short. It's still light outside, but here, in my clipping room, there is eternal darkness. In the light from my work lamp the people in the pictures on the wall look so irritatingly happy and unsuspecting. So full of expectations, as though they take it for granted that all life lies before them, a perfectly calm ocean of time, smooth and unruffled. I have taken clippings from the newspaper, snipped off all the lachrymose stories about the shocked family, edited out the gory details about the finding of the body. Contented myself with the inevitable photo a relative or a friend has given a persistent journalist, the picture of when she was in her prime, smiling as though immortal.

The police don't know a lot. Not yet. But soon they will have more to work with.

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 lifesaving 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. Our existence is a fight for gain, and whoever cannot kill his neighbor has no right to an existence. Killing is, after all, only hastening the inevitable. Death allows no exceptions, which is good, because life is pain and suffering. In that sense, every murder is an act of charity. It just doesn't seem like that when the sun warms your skin or water wets your lips and you recognize your idiotic lust for life in every heartbeat and are ready to buy mere crumbs of time with everything you have accrued through life: dignity, status, principles. That is when you have to dig deep, to give a wide berth to the confusing, blinding light. Into the cold, illuminating darkness. And perceive the hard kernel. The truth. For that is what I had to find. That is what I found. Whatever it is that makes a person into a murderer.

What about my life? Do I also believe it is a calm, unruffled ocean of time?

Not at all. Before long I, too, will be lying on death's refuse heap, together with all the other role players in this little drama. But whatever stage of decay my body may attain, even if all that remains is the skeleton, it will have a smile on its lips. This is what I live for now: my right to exist, my chance to be cleansed, to be cleared of all dishonor.

But this is only the beginning. Now I am going to switch off the lamp and go out into the light of day. The little that is left.


Hong Kong

The rain did not stop first thing. Nor second thing. In fact, it didn't stop at all. It was mild and wet, week upon week. The ground was saturated, European highways caved in, migratory birds did not migrate and there were reports of insects hitherto unseen in northern climes. The calendar showed that it was winter, but Oslo's parkland was not just snowless, it was not even brown. It was as green and inviting as the artificial turf in Sogn, where despairing keep-fit fans had resorted to jogging in their Bjørn Dæhlie tights as they waited in vain for conditions around Lake Sognsvann to allow skiing. On New Year's Eve the fog was so thick that the sound of fireworks carried from the center of Oslo right out to suburban Asker, but you couldn't see a thing, even if you set them off in your backyard. Nevertheless, that night Norwegians lit six hundred kroners' worth of fireworks per household, according to a consumer survey, which also revealed that the number of Norwegians who realized their dream of a white Christmas on Thailand's white beaches had doubled in just three years. However, it seemed as if the weather had run amok also in Southeast Asia: Ominous clouds usually seen only on weather charts in the typhoon season were now lined up across the China Sea. In Hong Kong, where February tends to be one of the driest months of the year, rain was bucketing down, and poor visibility meant that Cathay Pacific Flight 731 from London had to circle again before coming in to land at Chek Lap Kok Airport.

"You should be happy we don't have to land at the old airport," said the Chinese-looking passenger next to Kaja Solness, who was squeezing the armrests so hard her knuckles were white. "It was in the center of town. We would have flown straight into one of the skyscrapers."

Those were the first words the man had uttered since they had taken off twelve hours earlier. Kaja eagerly grabbed the chance to focus on something other than the fact that they were temporarily caught in turbulence.

"Thank you, sir-that was reassuring. Are you English?"

He recoiled as if someone had slapped him, and she realized she had mortally offended him by suggesting that he belonged to the previous colonialists: "Erm . . . Chinese, perhaps?"

He shook his head firmly. "Hong Kong Chinese. And you, miss?"

Kaja Solness wondered for a moment if she should reply, "Hokksund Norwegian," but confined herself to "Norwegian," which the Hong Kong Chinese man mused on for a while, then delivered a triumphant "Aha!" before amending it to "Scandinavian" and asked her what her business was in Hong Kong.

What People are Saying About This

A Booklist Best Crime Novel of 2012

"Maddeningly addictive." —Vanity Fair

“Meaty, gripping, full of tantalizing twists.” —Associated Press

“A true page-turner, and a worthy sequel to The Snowman.” —Newark Star-Ledger

The Leopard rewards you with a finale as unexpected and thought-provoking as any in recent mystery-fiction memory.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A cracking good thriller. . . . Immerse yourself and enjoy the ride.” —The Guardian (London)

“The action in The Leopard sweeps from a volcano in Africa to the remotest snow-covered mountains of Norway, but many of the novel’s best parts involve Harry’s silent struggles. . . . There’s always a twist, always a surprise, always a variation on a theme.” —The Dallas Morning News
 “Nesbø also deepens the central mystery at the heart of Harry’s pursuits: which is not so much the truth about himself, but rather, whether he can learn to live with that truth. He is a giant of the Scandinavian mystery.” —The Boston Globe
“Outstanding. . . . Nesbø moves the action easily from Hong Kong to Norway, with side trips to the Democratic Republic of Congo, without ever losing the plot's sense of urgency.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
“This one stands up to the ante one more time. . . .  Crime fiction’s most tortured and compelling hero. Alas, no armor exists strong enough to keep Harry from his demons, or the rest of us from Harry.” —Booklist (starred)
“Comparisons with Stieg Larsson have been made, but Nesbø’s plots move quickly, carry more punch, and really do keep you guessing to the final page.” —Daily Mirror
The Leopard’s unflagging narrative tension, breathtaking surprises and many confrontations with half-suspected treachery . . . are superb.” —The Independent

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The Leopard 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 85 reviews.
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
The latest Harry Hole novel presents the reader with a formidable challenge: On the one hand, the temptation is to try to read this tautly written, tightly plotted murder mystery in a single sitting. On the other hand, its 611 pages is undoubtedly a very large hurdle. Whatever the method, it’s well worth the effort to read it no matter how long it takes. After the travails he suffered at the conclusion of “The Snowman,”, Harry was so down that he resigned from the police force and traveled to the Far East, where he loses himself in alcohol, opium and gambling. There, a female detective from Norway finds him, pays off his gambling debts, tells him his father is in the hospital dying and he, as the only officer with experience solving serial murders, is wanted back in Oslo to help in what appears to be another multiple homicide case. At first he is reluctant, but finally accedes to the request to return because of his dad. Still refusing to rejoin the crime squad, Harry finally gives in when a third victim, a member of parliament, is killed. There are no clues and no common links between the victims until Harry discovers all three spent a night in an isolated mountain cabin together, and it becomes apparent that the “guests” are being picked off one by one. From that point, the case slowly unfolds somewhat murkily to keep the reader in the dark as to the ultimate denouement. Sometimes, Harry’s insights are prophetic, others off base. But he always has his eye on the main purpose: to catch the bad guy. At the same time, he is fighting his personal demons, his separation from the great love of his life, his relationship with his dying father, the politics of the competition between elements of the department as to responsibility for murder investigations, and his disillusionment with his role as a cop. More than enough, one must say, for one man. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jo Nesbo is a great writer. His Harry Hole series keeps you interested and guessing! Great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book waas amazing! I love to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An intriquing plot but complicated and not 'an easy read'. Would recommend but one must accept an outlandish series of events. Harry Hole is certainly a tortured soul, but his escapes from life threatening events strain credulity. Agree with others that the book is a tad long and stilted at points. Nonetheless, author offers up more than a quick, breezy 'whodunit'.
drlcrane More than 1 year ago
Each of the Harry Hole novels seems to get better than the previous one. I cannot wait for the Phantom to come out. I would also love to read the first two novels which have not yet been released in the US
onadvidreader More than 1 year ago
It's a fast moving book. A little difficult in places due to translation. May have to read a sentence twice...otherwiae.. Excellent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It's the first Det Harry book I've picked, and now the rest are on my reading list. There was a lot going on throughout the story, most of which I didn't expect, and certainly kept me interested and entertained. It was easy to pick up one of the several in the series and become invested in Harry's life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Time and again book after book, nesbo never slows down on the unexpected turns and twists! I just wish that the first couple books and some of the missing in the series would be added. Awaiting the next book in angst.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the Snowman and thought this book would be just as good. The story was a great mystery and could have been about 200 pages shorter. I couldn't stay interested.
KMcBride More than 1 year ago
The Snowman was one of my favorite books of all time. Therefore, I waited anxiously for months to read the next book in the series, The Leopard. However, as an avid reader, I was very disappointed. The plot The Leopard goes off into many tangents leaving the reader wanting a more substantial, meaningful, tightly woven story line. Don't get me wrong, I still love the flawed yet lovable detective Harry; however, I found myself very frustrated by the author's failure to reward him for his sufferings or even have him learn from them. The book was way too long and just seemed t go n and on,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. It was so suspenseful with many twists and turns. I will definately be recommending this to friends and reading more by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This brilliant author constucts a highly plotted series of killings that will keep you voratiously devouring each page. Detective Harry Hole is a flawed genius who you will win your heart...again. Do yourself a great literary favor and read the body of adult fiction written by this author to try to figure out what makes his unlikely hero tick.
shr More than 1 year ago
This was a great book, hard to put down.Well written, suspenseful, and jusr darn good.
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ElizaJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reason for Reading: next in the series.Harry Hole is in a personal mess after his last case and has hidden himself away in Hong Kong, but Norway seems to have a new serial killer in their midst and they are stumped. FBI trained serial killer expert Harry Hole must be tracked down and persuaded to come home and a detective is sent to find and bring him back. Hole does come back but only because his father is ill. Not really wanting to get back into the police business he can't help himself when he finally reads the cases of the two women who have been killed by an ancient torture device called a Leopold's Apple. And when he arrives on the scene of the third victim's horrendous torturous death he is hooked on finding the killer.This is a riveting and unique crime thriller. The crime itself was unusual and a tough one to guess before the final reveal. Several twists and turns keep you on the edge of your seat and the murders are quite gruesome while Jo Nesbo keeps his writing to a level where he describes just enough that your imagination takes over the rest. I really enjoyed crime, as usual, I know I can count on Jo Nesbo for a great thriller. I'm a bit annoyed with the Stieg Larsson comparison brazenly stamped on the cover though. Nesbo doesn't need that kind of lip service. He is an established author in his own right, something that unfortunately Larsson will never be able to become having only written 3 books. The comparison should be the other way around.I did have problems with the book though. First, it is too long. At just over 600 pgs, in this format, probably coming in at close to 500 in a smaller print, it just takes too much time to tell the story. There were parts where it lagged, that felt like filler, that were devoted to character development and main character story issues that just weren't all that interesting. I'm not very pleased with the direction Harry's personal story has gone and I just wanted the book to get back to the crime. Also, I never did figure out why the book is called "The Leopard". I know the old saying about a leopard never changing it's spots; perhaps that refers to Harry? I don't know. But looking at the Norwegian title "panserhjerte" which translates to "Armoured Heart" in English makes perfect sense as that phrase is found in the story. Also this book mentions the first book in the series quite a bit, and that one has not been translated into English yet which I find just plain weird. Now that they are caught up with Nesbo's writing, I wish they'd go back and translate those first two books. A good story, as can always be counted on with Nesbo, but not my favourite.
enetikovt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent murder mystery thriller, long and gripping with lots of plot surprises. Well done. Trans. from Norwiegan
christinelstanley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This follow-up to The Snowman is another compelling, although truely brutal, crime thriller. It's full of twists and turns, betrayals and red herrings. A little over long and far-fetched for my liking, but definitely worth a read.
smik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
PAPatrick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If your only toe into the waters of Scandanavian mystery writing is Stieg Larsson, take a look at the Jo Nesbo collection. Harry Hole, Nesbo's detective, was once a well-respected cop but his erratic love life, his alcoholism, the corruption around him (a superior was the undiscovered villain in two successive novels) and the frequency with which he or one of his colleagues is in a near death/death situation make these novels at least as interesting as what Larsson's 'girl' is up to.
pierthinker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my first book by Nesbo and I have to say he does write an excellent murder-thriller. Several times I was convinced I knew the killer's identity only for Nesbo to reveal his misdirection and point me somewhere else. This is an above average book of its type and a clear leader in the Scandinavian sub-genre of serial killer stories.The portrayal of Norway as a hotbed of political calculations is new to me and adds some spice to the mix. The Norwegian settings are natural but entirely novel to someone not familiar with that society. As with other Scandinavian authors Nesbo reveals a very dark underbelly to the liberal paradise.This is a very dark story with every character depressed, distraught, depraved, a failure, an alcoholic or in some other way on the bottom rungs of social achievement. It is an interesting PhD project for someone to analyse why the only people I an aware of as smokers these days are characters in books and films...I absolutely recommend this as a top notch thriller, just don't expect to fal for, or even like, any of the characters.
polarbear123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nesbo just gets better ad better. Yes the Snowman was great but I think this is one step further on to perfection. What Nesbo manages to do is to make an immensely readable crime story that isn't preditable but in actual fact very complicated, multi-layered and with characters full of depth. Compare this to your average I don't know PD James and you will see the difference. On all of these books it says 'the next Stieg Larsson'. This is unfair as Nesbo is leagues ahead of Larsson. Just why oh why aren't the first two Harry Hole books available in English translation? Whose idea was that?
karieh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Since I started reading magazine reviews about Jo Nesbo¿s books¿starting with ¿The Snowman¿¿I have been hooked. True ¿ I know a part of it is my Stieg Larsson withdrawal¿but the character of Harry Hole is absolutely fascinating to me.Nesbo¿s books are a great example of a traditional thriller¿with a much greater depth of character and story. It¿s not very often that I read a thriller/crime novel and find myself rereading a paragraph because it grabs my imagination.¿¿Harry could see her slim neck, see the white down on her skin, and he mused about how vulnerable she was, how quickly things changed, how much could be destroyed in a matter of seconds. That was what life was: a process of destruction, disintegration from what at the outset was perfect. The only suspense involved was whether we would be destroyed in one sudden act or slowly.¿And, ¿Soon the spectators would be pouring in: those with hope, those without, the lucky and the unlucky. Those who went to have their dreams fulfilled and those who went purely to dream. The losers who took uncalculated risks and those who took calculated risks, but lost anyway. They had been here before, and they all came back, even the ghosts from the cemeteries down there, the several hundred who dies in the great fire at Happy Valley Racecourse in 1918. For tonight it was definitely their turn to beat the odds, to conquer chance, to stuff their pockets full of crisp Hong King dollars, to get away with murder. A couple of hours from now they would have entered the gates, read the racing program, filled the coupons with the day¿s doubles, quinelas, exactas, triples, superfectas ¿ whatever their gambling god was called. They would have lined up by the bookies, holding their stakes at the ready. Most of them would have died a little every time the tape was crossed, but redemption was only fifteen minutes away, when the starting gates opened for the next race.¿The description in the novel is such that one feels very much a part of every scene¿without being beaten over the head with details. (Although sometimes¿I did find myself sliding over the details of the crime scenes. Not much is left to the imagination there. But that¿s just me.)¿The low afternoon sun flashed on the jagged glass of smashed windows high on the brick walls. It was a desolate place, typical of disused factories, where everything you see has been constructed for hectic, efficient activity, yet there is no one around. Where the echo of iron on iron, of workers shouting, cursing and laughing over the drone of the machines still reverberates silently between the walls¿¿I am perfectly fine with, and if fact enjoy, anti-heroes such as Hole¿but at this point in the series¿I am REALLY hoping something positive happens in his life. In each successive book, the image I have of him becomes more scarred, more run down, and more and more internally fragile. (Externally, the man just doesn¿t stop.) I enjoy the mysteries and am constantly surprised by the events that take place, but at heart, I¿m in it for the character. Every time I put a Harry Hole book down? I¿m hoping the next one will be it. In the next one, Harry will find what he is looking for and he can lay some of his fight down.I guess I¿ll just have to wait for the next book. And I will. Eagerly.
SamSattler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As Jo Nesbo¿s The Leopard opens, Harry Hole is living deep inside the bowels of Hong Kong and trying to avoid the gangland creditors who badly want to catch up with him. In the meantime, Harry is well on his way to committing suicide by alcohol and opium abuse. But, just in the nick of time for Harry, Norway has a new serial killer on her hands, one that will rival even Harry¿s previous adversary, The Snowman, for creative killing. His old department needs Harry¿s talents - and he has to be found and convinced to do battle with Norway¿s latest incarnation of pure evilness.The Leopard is a grim, disturbing book that sometimes goes over the top before Nesbo decides to dial it back to a more believable level, but the picture he paints of a worldwide underground of pure evilness is unforgettable. The uncorrected proof I read was 513 pages long, plenty of time for Nesbo to expose the underbellies of Hong Kong, Norway, and Africa, and he does so with great gusto. As the body count rises, the book¿s plot becomes more and more complicated, and the investigation becomes more and more personal for Harry. Readers unsure as to whether they are ready for the level of violence and brutality of The Leopard should read its first chapter before investing in a copy of their own. This little four-page chapter forewarns the potential reader by perfectly setting the tone for the rest of the book. In addition, the beginning of the second chapter offers insight into the mind of this particular killer when Nesbo allows him to speak in the first person:¿For my part, I believe that the ability to kill is fundamental to any healthy person. Our existence is a fight for gain, and whoever cannot kill his neighbor has no right to an existence. Killing is, after all, only hastening the inevitable. Death allows no exceptions, which is good, because life is pain and suffering. In that sense, every murder is an act of charity.¿I do have one suggestion for readers unfamiliar with Nordic proper names. The Leopard is a long, complicated novel that makes reference to dozens of character and place names. Many, if not most, North American readers will quickly become confused by the names thrown at them (they simply do not stick) ¿ and, when those names show up later in the book, these readers will find it near impossible to place them in their proper context to what has previously occurred. I have to admit to even being confused as to the gender of some of the names I faced. My suggestion: start a simple little list or chart of character names that can be referred back to as you read the book. I do wish I had followed my own advice. Next time.Rated at: 3.5
norinrad10 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Let me start by saying that Jo Nesbo is every bit as good as Stieg Larrsson. I would actually argue that he's better because every book in this series is an improvement over the last. Nesbo has created a truly memorable character in Harry Hole. In the beginning of this one, Hole has escaped to Hong Kong to lick his wounds and create new ones. Brought back to Oslo to deal with an ailing father he also get wrapped up in a series murders that appear to be the work of a serial killer. This one will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat while exposing you to the culture of Norway.