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The Leopard. Jo Nesbo Paperback – International Edition, July 1, 2011
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From the bestselling author of The Snowman - an explosive new thriller. In the depths of winter a killer stalks the city streets. Two women are found drowned in their own blood. A third woman is hanged from a diving board. YOU ARE ALLOWING THIS KILLING TO GO ON. The crime scenes offer no clues, the media is reaching fever pitch, and the police are running out of options. IT'S TIME THIS WAS STOPPED...There is only one man who can help them catch the killer. But Inspector Harry Hole doesn't want to be found...BECAUSE I HAVE APPOINTED THE NEXT VICTIM.
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I like Harry Hole he is a deeply flawed man, consumed by his demons and yet still has great instincts in understanding the mind of a serial killer. At the start of this installment in the series Harry is in Hong Kong where he is drowning his sorrows over the end of a relationship. When he is asked to come back to Oslo to help with a new set of related killings he refuses until he learns his father is dying. Slowly he gets drawn back into helping his former boss and trying to solve the case.
Nesbo knows this character inside out and really portrays Harry's pain and isolation. His writing is taut and the plotting complex. The main problem is that the plot became a little too complicated, there were so many twists and turns and so many characters that I had a very hard time keeping them straight. In addition the murders were extremely gruesome and described in excruciating detail, after a while the narrative became tiresome. In addition Harry, a long time alcoholic, smoker and drug user, escapes death with what can only be called super human powers requiring a complete suspension of belief. After having the rug pulled out from under me a few times I just wanted the book to end, it seemed interminable. My final complaint is the ending. I am not a fan of books telling and not showing. We get to the end and there are pages of the killer explaining to his next victim how and why he "did it". I found that very unsatisfying.
I think that three stars maybe a little generous, but I do like the main character and I like the writing in general. I would like to read another book featuring Harry Hole, so I think two stars was a little harsh; it is a rating I give for books that are below average and this was along the lines of an average read, I was just expecting more.
The murders continue and Harry can't let the crimes go even though he is told to stay off the case. Police corruption, cover-ups, and a serial killer-like series of murders take Harry Hole from Norway to Africa and Harry's life becomes dangerously within sight of the killer who also wants him off the case as he watches his prey silently before striking, just as a leopard watches its prey.
I love the Harry Hole novels and this is the third one I've read. The plot and subplots in "The Leopard" have so many twists and turns, and once you think the series of grisly murders is solved, you know it can't be because there are two or three hundred more pages to go in this 610-page thriller that has an abundance of characters and layers of thought-provoking story that is put together in Nesbo's well-planned way. Nesbo develops his characters at an easy pace and we get to know as much as we need to know about them to satisfy their roles in the story. As is par for the course for this author, the story is complex, multi-layered and Harry Hole ("e" pronounced as a long "a") remains dark and always confronting his personal demons and emptiness.
An excellent novel from a popular Norwegian novelist whose books are being translated into English and other languages. Highly recommended.
This volume opens in Hong Kong where Harry is trying to forget that he ever was a detective. But, with Oslo facing a possible serial killer, Harry is forced back into harness and into the middle of a turf war between two law enforcement branches, both of which want to take advantage of Harry's skills but would prefer not to deal with the alcoholic and occasional drug-user Harry.
Harry soon puts most of the pieces of the puzzle together (and nearly dies from the effort), but some pieces just won't fit and Harry goes chasing around the world to figure things out. Version 'B' looks good but not good enough, so Harry keeps digging and eventually hits on Version 'C.' He survives - barely - and leaving Oslo officialdom to its turf war, Harry chooses Hong Kong.
The bad guys in this tale are evil and the good guys are less than good....but the book is definitely worth reading!