The Leopard by Jo Nesbo – a book review

Crime thriller from respected Norwegian author Jo Nesbo, about a serial killer who uses a particularly horrendous contraption to murder his victims.

Starring Nesbo’s recurring protagonist, detective Harry Hole, The Leopard story takes place in several locations: Norway, the Conga, and Hong Kong. After Hole is retrieved from his hiding spot in the latter by a feisty detective called Kaja, he returns to a bitter feud between the police forces in Norway, who are fighting for supremacy over control in murder investigations. Hole’s indifference to politics and authority mean that he only cares about one thing, catching the killer.

Working with Kaja, and a small team, Harry soon uncovers a link between these seemingly random murders, which have something to do with a ski cabin. As he tries to piece together the evidence, and locate a suspect, the killer continues to prowl in the shadows.

Alongside the main story thread, Harry’s father is also lying in hospital, and Harry struggles with his anguish over this, as well as past losses. Also, as an avid alcoholic, Harry’s relationship with the demon drink becomes a worrying factor.

An engaging thriller, Nesbo has formed a story that represents a lot of Scandinavian writing: great on the detail, but cold with the description. Hole is a marvellous lead character, offering the flawed, edgy cop who refuses to play by the rules, but who we ultimately warm to for his awkward heroism.

The sideline characters, such as Kaja and even the killer, are explored with great detail, which is a refreshing experience. We are offered a lot of back story to peak our interest, but there still lies enough mystery to make them interesting.

A little too long, the book spans over 700 pages, which is unnecessary for a crime thriller, but the writing is tense and powerful throughout, offering some horrific scenes and unnerving consequences.