The Leopard

By Jo Nesbø; translated by Don Bartlett

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011

Genres: Mystery, suspense,  thriller, crime thriller, police procedural, Scandinavian noir

Series: Harry Hole; 8

ISBN: 9780307595874

Audience: Adult

Number of pages: 513*

Setting: Hong Kong, China, Oslo,  Norway, Kigali, Rwanda & Goma, The Congo

Time period: Contemporary

Plot summary: After working on The Snowman case, Harry’s life takes a turn for the worse and he finds himself indebted to a gangster in Hong Kong.  Meanwhile, another serial killer is on the loose in Oslo and Crime Squad wants Harry on the case.  Unfortunately for the police, Harry doesn’t want to have anything to do with serial killers or the people trying to track them.  The only thing compelling Harry to return to Oslo is family.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Short chapters with lots of action and dialog contribute to the speedy pace.

Characterization: Predominately told in third person from Harry’s perspective.  Exceptions include brief, mysterious segments written in first person interspersed throughout the story, as well as chapters shown from other character viewpoints.  Important secondary characters include Kaja Solness, Mikael Bellman, and Harry’s father, Olav.

Frame: The frame is set by the title.  Although most of the story is set in Oslo, parts do take place in Rwanda and The Congo.  On Harry’s first visit to the area, he sees some people carrying a dead leopard.  His driver refers to the animal as a “lonely animal” which “hunts only at night” (p. 149*).

Story line: A complex and thrilling mystery with lots of twists and turns.

Subject headings:

From Pima County Public Library:

Hole, Harry (Fictitious character) — Fiction.

Police — Norway — Oslo — Fiction.

Women — Crimes against — Fiction.

Oslo (Norway) — Fiction.

Mystery fiction.

Similar authors:

Jussi Adler-Olsen

Michael Connelly

Karin Fossum

Stieg Larsson

Henning Mankell

Personal notes:  I scored an Advanced Reader Copy* of this book at a conference and started it immediately – it was really good.  The beginning is rather gristly and I was slightly disappointed that it seemed rather similar to The Snowman, but my disappointment didn’t last long as I was pulled into the story.  I made the same conclusion that Harry did in the book in trying to figure out the killer – only to have the story twist on me.  I was also slightly disappointed by the ending because I really like Harry’s character and would love for him to find some peace – but then that would probably end the series.

*Since I was reading an Advanced Reader Copy, the pagination seems to be slightly different from the final product.

Other: Diversity – Norwegians, Rwandans, Congolese, Belgian, Finn, Germans, Hong Kong people, alcoholic, refugees, child soldiers

Jo Nesbø’s website


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