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149 of 152 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder, mayhem and Norwegian noir
Again and again, author Jo Nesbo throws so many surprises at you and in such rapid succession that the unexpected becomes (almost) expected.

In "The Leopard" a character says, "no one is as they seem, and most of life, apart from honest betrayal, is lies and deceit." The same could be said of the story and its many twists and reversals.

Two thirds...
Published on October 25, 2011 by Rett01

versus
119 of 122 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly, this once-wonderful series is becoming more sensationalistic and less human
I've read all of the books in the Harry Hole series that have been translated into English and I'm not crazy about the direction NesbÝ is taking in the most recent titles, and particularly this one.

First, the good things. I admire NesbÝ's ability to depict broken people. He strips Harry down his soul, it seems, and makes us see the pain there. He's so good at...
Published on December 13, 2011 by Maine Colonial


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149 of 152 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder, mayhem and Norwegian noir, October 25, 2011
This review is from: The Leopard: A Harry Hole Novel (8) (Hardcover)
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Again and again, author Jo Nesbo throws so many surprises at you and in such rapid succession that the unexpected becomes (almost) expected.

In "The Leopard" a character says, "no one is as they seem, and most of life, apart from honest betrayal, is lies and deceit." The same could be said of the story and its many twists and reversals.

Two thirds the way through this big (600 hardback pages) everything seems to be wrapped up but you expect - and you'll be right on - that our Norwegian sleuth Harry Hole (pronounced Whole-Lay, if you please) has a lot more sleuthing to do and more mayhem to deal with before all is revealed and everything explained. American readers are at an added disadvantage because we need to deal with the Norwegian names and locales. As usual with a Nesbo crime thriller, I started taking notes as soon as I opened the book.

We meet up with Hole in Hong Kong where he's gone to wallow in guilt and misery and punish himself physically and mentally after the devastating events in "The Snowman." We also meet Kaja Solness, a member of the Oslo crime squad who has been dispatched to collect Hole and bring him back where he's needed to help solve a number of grisly murders that have all the earmarks of a serial killer.

I prefer some nuance in my thrillers, some mental stimulation, plot intricacies that require thought and the application of logic. I prefer to have more than just sensation, thrills and a high body count resulting from the use of truly gruesome, grisly devices designed for torture and murder.

In the "The Leopard," Nesbo stretches credulity and tests the bounds of plausibility with a nasty apple-sized killing device that registers nearly off the scale on the shock-horror meter. I couldn't help wondering how someone would clean the macabre thing between uses.

For me Nesbo has been pushing things toward the extreme of violence and edging ever closer to exploitation. With each new novel in the series I feel more and more manipulated. But with that said, it remains unequivocal that "The Leopard," as with the previous Hole stories, is a thrill ride with velocity and force. Enough to keep me coming back? For at least one more ride. Yes, definitely.

Note" "The Snowman" is the eighth mystery in the Harry Hole series. It's the longest, most dense and philosophical. The first two wait to be translated into English; as a result "The Redbreast" is first in the English series. The other five, in order, are "Nemesis" (2009), "The Devil's Star" (2010), "Redeemer" (2009), "Snowman" (2011) and "The Leopard" (2011).
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119 of 122 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly, this once-wonderful series is becoming more sensationalistic and less human, December 13, 2011
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This review is from: The Leopard: A Harry Hole Novel (8) (Hardcover)
I've read all of the books in the Harry Hole series that have been translated into English and I'm not crazy about the direction NesbÝ is taking in the most recent titles, and particularly this one.

First, the good things. I admire NesbÝ's ability to depict broken people. He strips Harry down his soul, it seems, and makes us see the pain there. He's so good at showing the quiet, tender feelings Harry has for Rakel, Oleg, his father and some of the other people in his life. In this book, NesbÝ gets into the complexities of Harry's relationship with his father, and this is very affecting. NesbÝ has given us a lot of terrific female characters for Harry to work with over the course of this series, too: Ellyn, Beate, Katrine and now Kaja.

When I started reading the Harry Hole series, one thing that struck me was how well NesbÝ got into the mind of the killer and made his actions comprehensible and sometimes even made him almost sympathetic. The murders were always very human murders.

Increasingly, I feel like NesbÝ is getting away from the humanness in his killers and even, in a way, in Harry. Presenting us in recent books with serial killers and bizarre and elaborate murder methods is distancing. I feel like the books are becoming more sensationalistic and less real.

Every book requires the reader to have a certain suspension of disbelief. You enter the world the author has created, knowing it is fiction, but willing to go along with the story and identify with its people, time and place. NesbÝ made that suspension of disbelief difficult for me with this book.

The long scenes of gruesome torture and murder seem like something out of an exploitation movie and are alienating to me. It feels manipulative, as if NesbÝ is just trying to press the shock/horror button.

The physical danger Harry gets in, and his superhuman endurance and ability to take punishment are almost cartoonish. Or like an old James Bond movie. Nobody could survive all the situations Harry gets into in this book. As Harry's situations become more extreme, and his methods of escape more elaborate, he becomes less believable as a character. NesbÝ also depicts Harry as so wrecked by drink, drugs and smoking that it's not believable that he continues to be so attractive to women.

I also got the feeling that NesbÝ is starting to recycle material. Mikael Bellman, the workplace villain of this piece, is essentially a recycled Tom Waaler, the workplace villain of The Redbreast, Devil's Star and Nemesis. Finally, I thought the book was too long and the plot too convoluted.

I still think NesbÝ is a tremendously talented writer who can create unforgettable characters and stories. I just hope he can drop the outlandish stuff, forget the hackneyed serial killer theme, and get back to basics and humanity, the way he did in the earlier books.
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116 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Leopard by Jo NesbÝ, January 26, 2011
Extra Information: The first two books for this Harry Hole series The Bat Man and The Cockroaches have not been produced for translation at this time. The Redbreast would be the third book in this series; if you were to start this series my recommendation would be from The Redbreast. The series then follows through in order with Nemesis, The Devil's Star: A Harry Hole Novel, The Redeemer followed by The Snowman which then brings us to The Leopard.

Review - The Leopard (Harry Hole, Book Eight)

Hole with his magnetism as a loner is back. The Leopard with its darkest elements to date, sixth book in translation and I can honestly say its fantastic reading. Filled with emotion, love, hate, ambition and greed, its fast paced, suspenseful and this author never lets up by twisting plots keeping the puzzle tight and the mind ticking over until the very end.

The author Jo NesbÝ brings us into his opening scene Hong Kong, Kaja Solness has been sent from Oslo to locate Harry Hole in Kowloon. Hole had been on the missing list since the end of his last case The Snowman, his long term plans were too remain lost. Within forty-eight hours Kaja finds Hole and all his troubles which don't come cheap, given permission to bail him out of his gambling debt on the grounds he comes home his needed on a case but still he refuses. Kaja given no choice plays the final card, his father is in hospital his not expected to live. Hole decision is clear, his father is the one and only reason for his return.

Oslo; the file was handed over on route from the airport but not read, the first women Borgny Stem-Myhre, thirty three, single, no children, keen outdoors women loves walking, skiing her cause of death drowning, triggered by blood wounds from the mouth. The second women Charlotte Lolles, twenty-nine, lawyer, lived alone had boyfriends, loves the outdoors, cause of death; drowning, twenty-four wounds in the mouth. This was Gunnar Hagen welcome back present, on Holes first opportunity the file hit the bin and Hole to his words went to visit his father.

By the third Murder, Hole was arrested around the scene by him an unknown someone named Mikael Bellman. Gunnar Hagen gets Hole released, he also explained some things had change since he'd been away. An old argument had flared, cuts and rationalization in the force, crime squad versus kripos was there enough resources for two specialist branches with parallel expertise needed in a small country. Mikael Bellman seemed to be the new wonder-boy who moves upwards and onwards but had been nothing but trouble to others from day one, he employed an ex colleague from interpol, a finnish side kick Jussi Kolkka. Officially this was Mikael Bellman serial murder case but as Hole already disliked the man on looks alone his interest had suddenly turned. Hagen explained the case would have to be undercover with trusted chosen few, and that he could lose his job. Hole's intuition was always up for a challenge.

Longer book than the others but fantastic were constantly moving forward and the plots interwoven with emotional smaller stories throughout bringing back in the older and then new characters along the way keeping everything fresh with the right pace, suspense, tension and interest. Very descriptive he pays attention to detail great visuals which are crystal clear the dialogue is as always marvellous. The author reflects on financial matters; using the older buildings of Oslo that are just as rich as the new modern buildings except they don't have or need swimming pools, jacuzzi and saunas which seems a requirement for the social climbers new homes.

The book is more about Hole as a person, and his personal relationship he shares with his father, I found this really touching at times, you get to understand another side to Hole if anything else. As in every book the author keeps our minds busy. New Mikael Bellman reminds me of a character long gone Tom Waaler but its Harry himself whose still the most compelling character to read. The story well I have to say I was in the thick of it with follow my lead throughout, even with Hole's intuition that borders on the super-natural, I'm not one to give up, stayed right with him and its a wonderful twist to the finish line. Best to just kick back, get in there and enjoy every minute.

Translation would also like to touch on this point much like the UK we have our North, South, East, West and somewhere in the middle five common dialects and I'm sure Norway have the same set up generally. Although it would have taken me forever I would love to have been able to read parts of this book in its original context or maybe had that ear for sounding of original language as I had the feeling the author plays a lot with the Norwegian dialects comically in the originals, some Bergensian intonation for instance. I seemed to have picked up on this very clearly in the last book from translated passages and certainly in this book, originals of course always have the edge but the translator has done a fantastic job to get around wording so we are able to understand, his kept it with its directness and humour, the character Harry Hole although Norwegian could even be from the UK, a northerner its bizarre I know, but the translation and comical side seems to take me that way. So a big thank you to Don Bartlett for another clear translation in the series.

This Author writing goes from strength to strength each and every novel, highly recommended, great reading.

Andrea Bowhill
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to the usual standard, I'm afraid, November 13, 2011
By 
Brian Baker (Santa Clarita, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Leopard: A Harry Hole Novel (8) (Hardcover)
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I'm a Harry Hole fan, and have thoroughly enjoyed all the other books that have been translated into English. But I have to say, I found "Leopard" to be a disappointment.

There were several problems with this offering. Nesbo's books have always been complex in plotting, but in this case I think he overdid it. I'd liken it to this: you really love chocolate chip ice cream, but what happens if you eat a whole gallon of it at one sitting?

That was what we had here. I found it almost impossible to keep accurate track of what was going on here; there was just too much. It resulted in a muddled, hard-to-understand mess.

Then there was the problem with the ultimate denouement: the villain of the piece spends literally pages droning on and on to another character in explication of what was done, all - obviously - to achieve the end of explaining to the reader what actually happened. It was absolutely eye-rolling, like a B-grade movie from the 50s, or a Columbo episode.

I think my three stars are generous, and done out of loyalty and acknowledgement of how good the earlier books are.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly, this once-wonderful series is becoming more sensationalistic and less human, May 30, 2011
By 
This review is from: The Leopard (Paperback)
I've read all of the books in the Harry Hole series that have been translated into English and I'm not crazy about the direction NesbÝ is taking in the most recent titles.

First, the good things. I admire NesbÝ's ability to depict broken people. He strips Harry down his soul, it seems, and makes us see the pain there. He's so good at showing the quiet, tender feelings Harry has for Rakel, Oleg, his father and some of the other people in his life. In this book, NesbÝ gets into the complexities of Harry's relationship with his father, and this is very affecting. NesbÝ has given us a lot of terrific female characters for Harry to work with over the course of this series, too: Ellyn, Beate, Katrine and now Kaja.

When I started reading the Harry Hole series, one thing that struck me was how well NesbÝ got into the mind of the killer and made his actions comprehensible and sometimes even made him almost sympathetic. The murders were always very human murders.

Increasingly, I feel like NesbÝ is getting away from the humanness in his killers and even, in a way, in Harry. Presenting us in recent books with serial killers and bizarre and elaborate murder methods is distancing. I feel like the books are becoming more sensationalistic and less real.

Every book requires the reader to have a certain suspension of disbelief. You enter the world the author has created, knowing it is fiction, but willing to go along with the story and identify with its people, time and place. NesbÝ made that suspension of disbelief difficult for me with this book.

The long scenes of gruesome torture and murder seem like something out of an exploitation movie and are alienating to me. It feels manipulative, as if NesbÝ is just trying to press the shock/horror button.

The physical danger Harry gets in, and his superhuman endurance and ability to take punishment are almost cartoonish. Or like an old James Bond movie. Nobody could survive all the situations Harry gets into in this book. As Harry's situations become more extreme, and his methods of escape more elaborate, he becomes less believable as a character. NesbÝ also depicts Harry as so wrecked by drink, drugs and smoking that it's not believable that he continues to be so attractive to women.

I also got the feeling that NesbÝ is starting to recycle material. Mikael Bellman is nothing but a new Tom Waaler. Finally, I thought the book was too long and the plot too convoluted.

I still think NesbÝ is a tremendously talented writer who can create unforgettable characters and stories. I just hope he can drop the outlandish stuff and get back to basics and humanity, the way he did in the earlier books.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint of heart, December 5, 2011
By 
Daffy Du (Del Mar, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Leopard: A Harry Hole Novel (8) (Hardcover)
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Jo Nesbo has some gruesome imagination! I knew this going in, as I've read three of his other books and especially liked The Snowman, but this one just may have gone too far for me.

Harry Hole, Nesbo's brilliant but unstable and self-destructive detective, has retreated from the world after his last case cost him his equilibrium and the woman he loved. He's decamped to Hong Kong, where he's little more than a vagrant, having racked up serious debts to a loan shark, who has seized his passport. He's been escaping into the opium dens and has no intention of returning to his former life as a star investigator of serial murders, preferring the slow death of drugs and oblivion. Enter Kaja Solness, a female detective from Oslo, who has been charged with bringing him back to Norway, where his expertise is sorely needed. Three women have been found murdered in puzzling ways, the latest an MP. Hole has no intention of complying until she tells him his father is dying.

Naturally, he returns, if only to see his father, and naturally he begins to work on the case, taking a contrarian view from that of his colleagues that ultimately yields results. Naturally, he gets caught up in the politics of the police Crime Squad and the state Kripos agency and bests his adversaries, and naturally he is imperiled and has to draw on all his gumption and tolerance of pain to avoid certain death.

The Leopard is an intricately plotted book, with numerous characters, numerous references to past events and numerous twists and turns--probably even more than previous volumes in the series. As before, Nesbo jumps back and forth between the killer's world and that of his protagonist, with so many people and places to keep track of that at times it seemed like overkill (no pun intended). It's as if he's thrown in every imaginable issue a troubled middle-aged cop could be confronting. My biggest issue, however, is with his detailed descriptions of the murders, especially those using a torture device that he invented. It certainly is original, but there's only so much sadism, mayhem and death I can take. As a result, there's no way I can say I "enjoyed" the book the way I have most of Henning Mankell's books and some recent Nordic crime fiction because The Leopard is a particularly violent book, and Hole is utterly self-destructive, as if Nesbo is trying to outdo himself each time. I found the violence in The Snowman far more tolerable than what he concocted for this book, and while Nesbo is clearly talented, I don't know if I can stomach any more of his books.

Three and a half stars.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenges, May 1, 2011
By 
Ted Feit (Long Beach, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Leopard (Hardcover)
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.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hail, the Returning "Hero", November 8, 2011
By 
Patricia H. Parker "Bookwoman" (Springfield, Massachusetts United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Leopard: A Harry Hole Novel (8) (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When we last saw Harry Hole, he was depressed, dejected and definitely "burnt out". He had just arrested "The Snowman", a depraved killer who made even an experienced detective such as Harry sick to his stomach. To cap it all off, ""The Snowman" had taken Harry's former fiancee, Rakel and her young son, Oleg prisoner, using them as shields against Harry. The danger to Rakel and her son made her break off the engagement. Harry was finished; he was making plans to relocate to somewhere warm and crowded so he could get lost and never be found again. I was very sad because Steig Larson had passed away and Henning Makell had just announced that he was done writing Kurt Wallender mysteries. However, the day has been saved; unable to solve Oslo's latest serial killings, Harry's boss, Gunnar Hagen (Hagen never officially accepted Harry's resignation) has a sent a beautiful young blond detective named Kaja Solness to track Harry down and bring him back. She finds him in Hong Kong which, as we all know is very warm and very crowded. Harry, as might be expected, is not interested in going back to Norway and yet another insane killer, but Kaja and Gunnar have a "hole" card (no pun intended). Harry's father, Olav, is dying and only has about a month to live. Kaja cleans up Harry's Hong Kong life and debts, and they return to Oslo. Harry insists that he will only stay long enough to be with his father and bury him and will not get involved in this latest round of killings. However, having arrived in Norway, Harry discovers that there is an internecine war going on between his Crime Squad of the regular police and the Kripos or Central Crime Unit led by a Type A Alpha Male (I know, redundant) who plans on taking over all crime solving authority in Norway and becoming king of the hill. Hagen and Harry's former comrades need his help if the District police aren't to become an asterisk at the bottom of History book pages. Harry agrees to stay and help but only as long as his father is alive.

The murder victims are varied - young and older women, young and older men - who don't seem to have any connection to each other. Various methods are used including drowning, shooting and killing by use of a Victorian torture machine invented to persuade people in the Congo during the reign of King Leopold. Nesbo winds his story through twists and turns to the solution. The reader keeps thinking they know who the REAL killer is only to have a new fact turn up which turns all previous theories on their head. As with all Nesbo books, this one keep moving. Don't be discourged by its size, you will forget how many pages there are as you stay up to the wee hours working through the story. Nesbo is an old fashioned story smith. I remember reading that Chekov or one of those other mysterious Russian playwrites said "if an author introduces a gun in the first scene of the book or play, he(she) had better use it by the last act". Watch for one of these in "The Leopard". Nesbo has only had four books translated so far, but I look forward to reading them all and hoping that more will be coming after that. I would only wish that publishers would print the original publishing date, as well as the date the book was published in English so that the English speaking reader could relate the background time to the happenings in the story. In the meantime, this book is well worth the time for any serious reader of mysteries and thrillers.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs editing, overly long, and too sensationalistic, December 26, 2011
This review is from: The Leopard: A Harry Hole Novel (8) (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have read several of NesbÝ's works, and The Snowman is my favorite. I was happy to receive this through Vine, and hoped for the kind of writing that made The Snowman such a riveting read. Like in his previous Harry Hole novels, NesbÝ excels at Harry's characterization. Readers new to Hole will learn about his inner demons, and those who are familiar with the tormented character that is Harry Hole will be able to further empathize with Hole's problems, and come to understand him better.

In his novels, NesbÝ is also able to show readers what makes a serial killer tick, presenting the perpetrator as one who is incredibly flawed, yet also highly intelligent. But this novel, like some others in the series, seems to get too over the top, focusing more on the torture implements used by the killer, and the method of killing to the point that it seems way out there. I prefer the focus to be on the human motivations, the human aspect of what makes people do what they do, rather than painting elaborate murder scenes that just seem so far-fetched and unnecessary, bringing to mind those torture-horror movies like Hostel, for example. Also, the crooked cop storyline seems overdone and a repeat of past plotlines.

As much as I like NesbÝ's works, I think The Leopard is in dire need of a good editor who should have pared down the story, focusing on the essentials, doing away with padding, and emphasizing the human aspect of the story rather than sensationalizing it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book of Many Layers, November 26, 2011
This review is from: The Leopard: A Harry Hole Novel (8) (Hardcover)
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Harry Hole, having resigned from Oslo's Crime Squad in Norway after the Snowman's capture, is licking his wounds in Hong Kong where opium and gambling help dull the pain of his pyrrhic victory over that foe. But Harry is a wanted man, wanted by the Chinese mafia in Hong Kong for gambling debts and wanted by his former boss in Norway, Gunnar Hagen, who needs Harry's help to capture a new serial killer on the prowl. The case has become pivotal in a turf war between Oslo's Crime Squad and Kripos, a specialized police unit with a new and very ambitious director. But Harry has no interest in Hagan's dilemma and refuses to return to Norway until he learns that his father is dying. Suddenly, remaining in Hong Kong is no longer an option. And now The Leopard, a killer using an ingenious torture device known as Leopold's apple, becomes Harry's next case.

More than a fascinating mystery spanning three continents, "The Leopard" draws fans of Harry Hole deeper into the psyche of a detective haunted as much by his successes as his failures. An alcoholic with no tolerance for political games, Harry is an outsider in his own department, the iconic loner who somehow manages to get results. This fifth book in Jo Nesbo's popular series showcases all the elements of a mystery thriller: clues that lead everywhere and nowhere in rapid succession, an ingenious murderer who could be behind any of the multiple plausible suspects, settings that have weight and substance, romantic complications, and a flawed hero who can't seem to escape danger wherever he turns. From the opium dens of China to the snowy woods of Norway and the mines of Africa, Harry confronts death at every turn. And when the action pauses there is Oystein, Harry's lifelong friend and confidant, who proves one of the most enjoyable characters in this complex tale, an island of rest amidst the mayhem that is Harry.

"The Leopard" is a satisfying book of many layers that continues the saga of Harry Hole. Whether or not the killer is captured becomes a minor point in the struggles of a man who has captured the interest of crime readers around the globe.

(The first four books in the series are "The Redbreast," "Nemesis," "The Devil's Star," and "The Snowman.")
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The Leopard: A Harry Hole Novel (8)
The Leopard: A Harry Hole Novel (8) by Jo NesbÝ (Hardcover - December 13, 2011)
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