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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling & gruesome........
'The Leopard' is the sixth in the series of Jo Nesbø's books which have been translated from Norwegian into English by Don Bartlett with the central character of Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Police.

I read 'The Leopard' immediately after finishing 'The Snowman' and although I felt 'The Snowman' could be read without necessarily reading the previous books, I...
Published on 30 Jan. 2011 by Midnight

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Still not convinced, I'm afraid
So the advertising does work. One finds it almost impossible to commute around London these days without seeing adverts for Jo Nesbo's various thrillers. They give the impression that every sentient being on the planet is currently gripped by this man's books and slavering for the next one. More than eating or breathing oxygen, reading Norwegian crime novels is the done...
Published on 18 Aug. 2012 by F.R. Jameson


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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling & gruesome........, 30 Jan. 2011
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'The Leopard' is the sixth in the series of Jo Nesbø's books which have been translated from Norwegian into English by Don Bartlett with the central character of Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Police.

I read 'The Leopard' immediately after finishing 'The Snowman' and although I felt 'The Snowman' could be read without necessarily reading the previous books, I do feel it will enhance a readers enjoyment to have read 'The Snowman' before 'The Leopard'.

We find that after being traumatised by events encountered in solving the serial killings in 'The Snowman', the story starts in Hong Kong where Harry fled after the Snowman case. Now he is not only battling against alcoholism but tackling drug abuse and gambling debts. He is persuaded to return to Oslo as his father is in hospital dying of cancer and his colleagues in Norway want his help investigating what appear to be unconnected murder cases.

This lengthy novel does bring in characters met in previous tales - former girlfriend Rakel is still very much in Harry's thoughts but there is an intriguing new female colleague, Kaja Solness; Katrine Bratt is still involved as is Bjørn Holm with his forensic expertise.

The plot is very complex taking many twists and turns. When this is coupled with Norwegian names and Nesbo's penchant for detailed description, it does mean you have to concentrate hard to ensure you follow all the deviations, so it's not the lightest of reading! Some of the descriptions of the murders committed left me reeling - how can someone have such a dark imagination?

I can endorse the opinion of another reviewer who mentions that you keep thinking you are reaching the climax to the story - only to find yourself back on the rollercoaster with a fair bit more of the story to complete.

This is a very good read and I will look forward to reading more by Nesbø in the future - certainly if you like your reading chilling and gruesome, this is a must have book for you.
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195 of 208 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Leopard - Knocks the spots off the competition..., 28 Jan. 2011
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Leopard (Hardcover)
`The Leopard' is the new Jo Nesbo novel, and it's one I've been looking forward to immensely. However, I didn't expect it to be quite this length. Clocking in at over 600 hardback pages this is indeed a mighty beast. But: a) was it worth the wait?; b) is it too long?; and c) is it far-fetched? The answer to all three questions is an emphatic `Yes!' So why if it's too long and implausible at times have I given it five stars? Let me explain...

First of all, the book picks-up not too long after Jo's last translated novel `The Snowman' ended. His detective, Harry Hole has gone AWOL from the Oslo Crime Squad. He's still bearing the scars (both literally and figuratively) from that case and is `taking a break' in Hong Kong, where he's addicted to both opium and horse racing. A beautiful police detective, Kaja Solness, has been sent to locate him because his expertise is required in what appears to be another serial killer case back home. Harry initially refuses, but Kaja drops her bombshell: his father is seriously ill and in hospital. And... that's all I'm going to tell you about the plot. The naughty publishers give too much away in their book summary on the inner cover and reveal a big development that is a definite spoiler*.

Once again police corruption plays a major part: the Crime Squad is squaring-up to Kripos in a power struggle over who should handle major homicide cases. The head of Kripos - Bellman - is a fascinating and brilliantly detailed character; a real old-fashioned snake-in-the-grass. You will love to hate him.

The book is packed with plot twists, and in terms of quality/quantity of misdirection, the only guy who can compete with Nesbo is Jeffery Deaver. However, while Jeff's twists are more precision engineered - which is to say contrived - it shows: I love most of Mr Deaver's work, but Jo's plot reversals flow more naturally and `The Leopard' serves up plenty of them. Just when you think it's reached a climax, you notice there's still a third of the book to go and there are more explosive surprises to come - ratcheting-up the tension even further. As I mentioned earlier, it's not grounded in reality at times - but I would contend that at least 90% of all crime fiction is implausible to some extent, so it's not a problem for me.

Harry Hole shouldn't work on paper: he's tough, principled, unlucky in love... and an alcoholic: in other words a veritable walking cliché. Or at least he should be. But in the skilful hands of the author he's an absolutely riveting character - one of the most compelling in modern crime fiction - and so much more than the sum of his parts. He's 100% convincing and Nesbo makes the reader really care about him, and in this book he's put through the wringer more than ever before.

The novel could have used a stronger editor to remove 100 pages without diluting the impact - perhaps even strengthening it - but really, the book is so magnificent and Nesbo is so good that we'll forgive him; the plot scarcely drags more than a little - if at all, simply because there's so much going on in here. If you like a complex plot, `The Leopard' may be right up your street. In short, this is a tour de force of crime fiction: it is brutal and uncompromising and confirms once again that Jo Nesbo is right up there with the modern crime-writing greats, but I agree that it won't be to everyone's taste.

If this is your first novel by the author, I suggest you may be better off reading the earlier translations first (hell, buy and read ALL of them, they're great) as earlier cases - the `Snowman', the `Redbreast' - are referenced in here.

*Also ignore their claim that Nesbo is `the Next Stieg Larsson' (this quote, plastered on the front of the book, is taken from the 'Independent'). The publishers are cynically trying to maximise book sales: he's nothing like Larsson in either content or style - indeed the only common denominator is they're both Scandinavian. I happen to love the Millennium trilogy, but I believe Nesbo is the superior novelist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The author that transforms story about a serial killer into harsh, tense, dark and provocative adventure, 26 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The Leopard (Hardcover)
`Leopard' written by Jo Nesbø is chronologically eighth installment in the Harry Hole series, an unusual and sometimes even dark hero Detective who is struggling with the worst scum of the Norwegian society.

Hole's isolation in Hong Kong escaping the horrors of his last case will be interrupted with a visit of Detective Kaja Solness, who has to do anything to make him return to Norway to investigate the murders of two women. Although he was not at all intrigued by those cases, news of his ailing father will force Harry to return from the world of alcohol and drugs back into reality. Immediately upon returning to Norway he will take the case and realize that he was dealing with a serial killer, a disturbed person using the brand new toys for the killings. The number of victims is growing every day, and while he tries to find a link between victims and the killer, Harry is not aware how close the villain actually is...

According to the undivided opinion of audiences and critics, Nesbø belongs to the first division of Scandinavian crime fiction genre. He definitely knows how to build the story managing to achieve what few can - to keep the same level of tension from the first page to the last. His crime are presented in brutal and cruel way, the sex scenes are passionate and intense, while the characters are anything but typical. Harry Hole is a naughty boy on the side of good. Cool, but sometimes also emotional, selfish and altruistic, and all those contradictions of his character make him a successful Detective, a good son, but bad partner.

`Leopard' is full of incredible twists and turns, and the detailed and realistic description of the whole story will make reader part of the action. Reader can be sure that will be able to feel every single emotion that novel characters are experiencing - sometimes you will be afraid, sometime ashamed, few times you'll feel sick, so for those faint hearted this is certainly not a best choice. The story will require your full concentration, and sometimes you might even need to go back a few pages, as can be expected from the good thriller.

Although `Leopard' is Jo Nesbø's eighth novel, the stories of particular installments are mostly independent and can be read in any order reader will want, though, of course, it's best to start from the beginning and slowly get to know the mysterious Harry Hole.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As high a quality crime thriller as you will read; Superb., 22 May 2011
This review is from: The Leopard (Hardcover)
Well, Nesbo is without doubt a rarefied talent. I am constantly amazed at the story lines this guy comes up with. Perhaps it is just me, but never have I felt so much part of the plot as I do with the books from this author. Somehow he manages to create the atmosphere and presence in a matter of lines, often even just a few words which it takes many others pages to achieve - I have never been to Oslo and yet I feel I know it like my own home town!

Seriously, if you have yet to discover Nesbo, read this book (or actually any of the Harry Hole series) I really do not think you will be disappointed.

An unheard of 5* from me; Absolutely Superb.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So many individually excellent parts, yet not quite a brilliant (er) 'whole', 18 Feb. 2011
By 
OEJ - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Leopard (Hardcover)
This is the latest in the series surrounding the enigmatic Norwegian detective Harry Hole who investigates yet another serial killer, and his journeys take him to three different continents. In hardback form it's a meaty slab at well over 600 pages, not exactly something you could slip discreetly into your back pocket, but there are many diverse pleasures to enjoy.

What niggled me from early on is that Hole, suffering from what might be classified as PTSD and in an opium-fuelled self-imposed exile in Hong Kong, is rather too easily found, rather too easily agrees to return to Oslo, and rather too easily changes his mind about resigning from the police force. Of course, it was always an inevitability that he would do all of these things, it was just rather unconvincing that he did it all so quickly. Anyway, once that's all out of the way, the writer gets into the heart of the story, that being the investigation into a series of murders of apparently unrelated people mainly in the Oslo area, some by rather nasty and unusually torturous means. Hole's pursuits take him not only to some remote regions of his homeland country, but also to the somewhat unlikely destination of central Africa. The atmospheric descriptions are narrated well, particularly those of the desolate snow-covered mountain ranges in Norway, the central character of Hole is as mesmerising as ever and the story itself will probably satisfy any crime fiction aficionados who love a convoluted and complex plot and one which invites them to identify the perpetrator and avoid the red herrings. There's no twist as such yet it's definitely very twisted, indeed that's one of the first descriptions that comes to mind when thinking of the killer's motives, methods and moods.

Another niggle that wouldn't go away was the author's (or publisher's?) habit of name-dropping 'The Snowman' at more than a necessary number of opportunities, a trend I've noticed among several other crime series writers trying to promote another of their books within the context of their latest one. It's a form of 'product placement' that I personally prefer not to see. The Snowman, apart from being the main reason for Hole's decision to hide away in Hong Kong, is also of course the title of Nesbo's preceding novel, which I think in the passing of time I may develop a preference for compared to The Leopard. That's because the latest novel, while possessing many admirable individual strengths, some of the highest order in fact, somehow left me slightly numb at the conclusion. It was also a touch disappointing to see that Hole would fall victim to the killer's favoured modus operandi, in my opinion it would have been smarter on the author's part to have concocted a unique 'showdown' between the two opposing lead characters rather than use a very predictable denouement. Having said that, Hole's efforts to escape are narrated in graphic detail and might just make your toes curl, for all the right reasons.

I was also disappointed to see such an understated and underplayed Gunnar Hagen (Hole's boss) in this novel. In The Snowman he came on the scene as a worthy opponent of sorts, a man of real character and colour, but here he's little more than a name. Shame, that.

Despite these niggles and disappointments, The Leopard still manages to be a very entertaining novel and I'm very glad I bought it. There's so much to enjoy here, in terms of noir-ish atmosphere, powerful imagery, a decent story with broad geographical scope and at the centre of it all one of the very best crime fiction leading characters in the business.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Harry Hole Becomes James Bond, 25 Nov. 2013
By 
johnny t99 (Epping Green, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Leopard: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 6) (Paperback)
Although I've never been a particular fan of crime fiction (the odd PD James, Colin Dexter aside), like everybody else, I loved the Stieg Larsson trilogy, and the Wallander novels of Henning Mankell; from which I 'progressed' to Jo Nesbo and his central character, Harry Hole.
With the exception of 'Cockroaches' (not yet published in English), I read the Hole novels sequentially - most of which I thoroughly enjoyed, until arriving at 'The Leopard'. 'Damaged' detectives are ten-a-penny in fiction and on TV these days yet nevertheless, Hole was to me, a fresh and convincing creation.
Having read 'The Leopard' however, the whole thing appears to be becoming ever so slightly formulaic. As always, the plot is intricate, but is here ridiculously convoluted, ultimately artificial and lacking credibility - as a result I completed the novel more out of habit than anything else.
Despite his alcolholism and disastrous personal life, Hole normally comes through as a result of his wits and inviolate personal integrity. Unfortunately in 'The Leopard' however, Hole seems to have metamorphosed into Norway's version of James Bond, escaping time and again in the nick of time from certain death - the climactic scene, played out on the lip of the crater of a live volcano in the Congo, is high on third-rate melodrama, yet so improbably far-fetched that it's almost risible - as a result of which, it entirely fails to engage the reader (or at least this reader).
The book does have its moments: the atmospheric opening scenes on the streets of Hong Kong, for example; but is ultimately a major disappointment. Despite the excellence of the earlier stories, I'm afraid Nesbo has really hit the buffers with this one: perhaps he's taken Hole as far as he can go.
If so, I can recommend without reservation (so far!) the novels of Camilla Lackberg.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Huge and variable, 21 Sept. 2013
By 
Jim J-R (West Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Leopard: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 6) (Paperback)
Harry Hole's eighth adventure sees the reluctant detective dragged back to work to investigate an apparent serial killer (again). It's odd how rare they are said to be and yet how frequently they turn up. The book feels very long, and the way that the plot develops becomes annoyingly repetitive.

The opening is surprisingly graphic - I always forget between readings that Jo Nesbo's novels are so violent, and yet this isn't kept up through the rest of the novel, which I found quite reliving as the first chapter almost put me off the book (and indeed, I went and read something else before coming back to continue). Otherwise it starts well, re-introducing the characters and the ongoing repercussions from the previous novel.

The story started to drag around the halfway mark, and I found I wasn't motivated to continue at the end of each chapter - again I had to take a break to read something else before returning. The end picked up, and I found myself enjoying the story again, and was left, as usual with Nesbo, ready to pick up the next novel in the series.

This book sees a selection of new supporting characters being introduced, and I wasn't particularly impressed by them. Several seem to be repeats of characters from earlier in the series, and I found it odd that having written those roles out, Nesbo felt the need to bring them back in a new body. The main character, Harry Hole, develops well in this outing though, and gets to go on quite an emotional rollercoaster. His journey is actually what I found to be the most interesting part of the story, and he grows beyond the meme of the alcoholic work-obsessed police inspector.

Overall, the book definitely has its ups and downs, but on reflection I think it stands as a good entry in the series, and it's not put me off looking out for the episodes I've not yet read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Still not convinced, I'm afraid, 18 Aug. 2012
This review is from: The Leopard: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 6) (Paperback)
So the advertising does work. One finds it almost impossible to commute around London these days without seeing adverts for Jo Nesbo's various thrillers. They give the impression that every sentient being on the planet is currently gripped by this man's books and slavering for the next one. More than eating or breathing oxygen, reading Norwegian crime novels is the done thing for the human race right now. As such, because I appear to be more of a sucker for this kind of thing than I previously realised, I have picked up another one. Even though I found its predecessor, `The Snowman', somewhat derivative, I have now made my way through `The Leopard'.

And I have to say I`m still not convinced.

For a start the opening is preposterous. Harry Hole - our hero - has now become an opium addict in Hong Kong, and rather than leave him there to rot, the Norwegian police sends a young female officer to bring him back and get him to lead a high-profile investigation. Now, would any real police force seriously do this? If a once decorated officer has gone so far off the rails they are now living high as a kite in the hinterlands of a far away country, surely their former employers is not going to demand that they come back and take on an actual investigation. What would the press say after all? It's the kind of thing which happens in movies starring a Mel Gibson or a Sylvester Stallone, but in a supposedly `real world' crime thriller requires the sensitive reader to swallow a huge amount of disbelief.

The ending - again set away from Oslo - is also quite ludicrous (although I won't spoil that for anyone). While in-between is a quite interesting police investigation into the customarily over-the-top serial killer. There's a lot of gore, some fun red-herrings, but certainly more inter-departmental politics than this particular reader would have liked.

It's dumb, but not an actively bad book - I just don't see what other people are getting so excited about.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best in the series but worth a read, 26 May 2012
This review is from: The Leopard: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 6) (Paperback)
I'm not a fan of the genre, I stumbled onto this series when amazon offered the first 5 books for just £10 so I decided to take them on holidays with me as light reading that I could just throw away afterwards. The first book, The Redbreast - still my favourite - got me hooked. The books are fast paced with lots of action and some really surprising twists, although I have to say the on off relationship with Rakel has just become annoying at this stage and next time she is in danger, I'm rooting for the bad guy!

This entry in the series involves a number of connected murders all linked to the guests at a remote ski chalet on a fateful night. The who did it and why aspect of the book is very well done, there are lots of suspects - both obvious and the usual lurking the background possibles - and you will change your mind several times in the course of the book. The book is however very long even by the standards of the series with the paperback nearly 750 papes long, and could easily been slimmed down by two hundred pages or so.

There are also a few elements in this book that lets in down **SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT** the not very subtle mentioning on a few occasions of a society engagement that just screams a connection to the case. Also the early mentioning on a least 3-4 occasions(if not more) that Harry has a badly set broken jaw, when it is then disclosed that the first two victims that are found have been killed by an instrument that is shoved into the victims mouth and activated so it cannot be removed, the significance of the broken jaw is so obvious as well as what is going to happen.

As I said, not the best of the series, but not the worst and definitely worth a read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The King Is Dead. Long Live the King, 15 Feb. 2012
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
"The Leopard,"(2011), is fifth in the Inspector Harry Hole series by the Norwegian author Jo Nesbo, another candidate for the crown of Scandinavian mystery authors, as vacated by the Swedish Stieg Larsson, author of the Millennium Trilogy, after his untimely death. Of Nesbo and his creation Hole, the dean of American hardboiled mystery authors, Michael Connelly, has said, "Jo Nesbo is my new favorite thriller writer and Harry Hole my new hero."Nesbo's books, translated into 40 languages, have sold more than eight million copies world wide: THE LEOPARD has been the number one international best seller. Previous Harry Hole novels include The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil's Star, and The Snowman. I've read and reviewed THE DEVILS STAR and THE SNOWMAN, and found a lot to admire about the ingenuity of the author, but disliked the boredom factor introduced by Hole's attributed alcoholism: it's just not that interesting to read about a person's drinking too much, nor the after effects of such behavior.

Nesbo left his Inspector Hole a ravaged mess at the end of his previous thriller, The Snowman. At the start of The Leopard, we find Hole hiding away from the world, betting on the horse races and smoking opium in the squalor of Hong Kong's back alleys, until Kaja Solness, a pretty young Norwegian police officer, is able to drag him reluctantly back to Norway, as his father is dying. Hole, the only Norwegian policeman with experience in hunting a serial killer, is needed to pursue another serial killer, who is known to already have brutally killed two young women, both drowned in their own blood. The crime scenes offer no clues; the police investigation is getting nowhere; the country's law enforcement agencies are squaring off for a rumble as to who has charge of the investigation. Soon the killer will murder a young woman Norwegian Member of Parliament, and the press will be in full cry that this murderer, soon to be nicknamed Prince Charming, must be stopped. There is little to go on, some rope, a bit of lava; then an unexpected connection is found between the victims.

Oddly enough, a significant portion of THE LEOPARD is set in Africa, as was Henning Mankell's recent THE MAN FROM BEIJING, which I also recently read and reviewed. But whereas Mankell used the African scenes as an excuse for preaching to the left-thinking choir, Nesbo uses the African setting to utter some terse, cynical witticisms about the Dark Continent that sound only too true.

So it should be said that, with the untimely departure of Stieg Larsson and the retirement of Henning Mankell's brooding detective Kurt Wallander, Nesbo seems more than likely to capture the title "King of the Scandinavian thriller." THE SNOWMAN was a complex, riveting mystery/thriller, and little old jaded mystery reader me could scarcely put THE LEOPARD down. It's propulsive, keeps moving, twisting and turning; several times I thought I had glimpsed the villain, several times I was wrong. Nesbo's writing, narrative, dialog and descriptive is fine and taut; his insights into Norwegian society crammed with relevant probative detail. I've been reading Scandinavian mysteries for a long time, from the days of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, and I'm thinking about saying: the King is dead. Long Live the King.
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The Leopard: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 6)
The Leopard: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 6) by Jo Nesbo (Paperback - 7 July 2011)
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