176. The Leopard by Jo Nesbo

The Leopard by Jo Nesbo. Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.  (Canada) - (US)
Inspector Harry Hole, #8

Pages: 613
Ages: 18+
Finished: Aug. 10, 2011
First Published: 2011 Norway (English edition, Mar. 22, 2011) (US: Dec. 13, 2011)
Publisher: Random House Canada
Genre: mystery, thriller, suspense
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

She awoke.

Acquired:  Received a review copy from Random House Canada.

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.


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