The Leopard by Jo Nesbo


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Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett, 2011. First published with the title Panserhjerte in 2009. Harvill Secker 2011. 624 pages. ISBN: 978-1-848-55400-1 (hardback).

The Leopard (Harry Hole #8) begins shortly after the events described in The Snowman (Harry Hole #7). It’s  important to read both books in this order to avoid spoilers and for a better understanding of some characters.

Deeply affected by the events narrated in The Snowman, Harry Hole has resigned from Oslo Crime Squad. He leaves Norway and doesn’t want to be found. Rakel and Oleg have abandoned him. His former boss, Gunnar Hagen, covers his absence as a leave until further notice but soon he will need him. The bodies of two women have been found in strange circumstances. Both deaths bear some similarities but no relationship can be found between the two cases. Hagen sends Kaja Solness to find Hole and she finds him in the squalor of Hong Kong’s opium dens, deeply in debt and with no intention to return home. Finally Hole agrees to return after hearing his father is seriously ill.

Back in Oslo we find Hole in the middle of an old fight between two rival police departments, Oslo Crime Squad and Kripos. Simultaneously, a serial killer is on the loose and Hole’s father has a terminal illness. A third woman, an MP, is found dead hanging from the diving board of an empty swimming pool. And Hole makes a discovery. The three women had met one night in an isolated mountain hostel. Hole’s investigation will take him to places as far away as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

These are some of the ingredients, the reader will find among the more than six hundred pages of this novel. I have to admit that I hesitated until the last moment on my rating. My admiration for Nebo’s books is no secret. But finally I decided not to give him the highest mark for several reasons.

In a nutshell The Leopard is too long for my taste. At a certain point I was just willing to finalise its reading. This should not happen to me when I’m really enjoying a book. Some flaws in the plot have annoyed me. Some passages are not adequately explained or are hard to believe. There are also some unnecessary morbid descriptions with too many details. Finally I’m detecting a certain risk to fall into formulas that I hope Nesbo will avoid in future books.

But I would not like to be misinterpreted. The Leopard is an engaging story, wonderfully written. It has a gripping plot full of twists and turns, and it is worth reading it.

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Reviews

The Leopard por Jo Nesbo

The Leopard (Harry Hole # 8) comienza poco después de los hechos descritos en The Snowman (Harry Hole # 7). Es importante leer los dos libros en este orden para evitar spoilers y para una mejor comprensión de algunos personajes.

Profundamente afectado por los acontecimientos narrados en The Snowman, Harry Hole ha dimitido de la Brigada Criminal de Oslo, abandona Noruega y no quiere que le encuentren. Rakel y Oleg le han abandonado. Su antiguo jefe, Gunnar Hagen, justifica su ausencia como una licencia hasta nuevo aviso, pero pronto le necesita. Se han encontrado los cuerpos de dos mujeres en circunstancias extrañas. Ambas muertes guardan cierta similitud, pero no se encuentra relación alguna entre ambos casos. Hagen envía a Kaja Solness para encontrar a Hole y le encuentra en la miseria de los fumaderos de opio de Hong Kong, muy endeudado y sin intención alguna de regresar a casa. Finalmente Hole accede a regresar al escuchar que su padre está gravemente enfermo.

De vuelta en Oslo nos encontramos a Hole en medio de una vieja pelea entre dos  departamentos de policía rivales, la Brigada Criminal de Oslo y Kripos. Al mismo tiempo, un asesino en serie anda suelto y el padre de Hole tiene una enfermedad terminal. Una tercera mujer, miembro del parlamento, es encontrada muerta colgando del trampolín de una piscina vacía. Y Hole hace un descubrimiento. Las tres mujeres habían coincidido una noche en un aislado albergue de montaña. La investigación de Hole le llevará a lugares tan lejanos como la República Democrática del Congo.

Estos son algunos de los ingredientes que el lector encontrará entre las más de seiscientas páginas de esta novela. Tengo que admitir que dudé hasta el último momento sobre mi calificación. Mi admiración por los libros de Nebo no es ningún secreto. Pero finalmente he decidido no darle la nota más alta por varias razones.

En pocas palabras The Leopard es demasiado largo para mi gusto. En un determinado momento yo estaba deseando concluir su lectura. Esto no debería ocurrirme cuando estoy realmente disfrutando de un libro. Algunos fallos en la trama me han molestado. Algunos pasajes no están debidamente explicados o son difíciles de creer. También hay algunas descripciones morbosas innecesarias con demasiados detalles. Finalmente estoy detectando un cierto riesgo de caer en fórmulas que espero Nesbo evitará en sus próximos libros.

Pero yo no quisiera ser mal interpretado. The Leopard es una historia atractiva, maravillosamente escrita. Tiene una trama apasionante llena de giros y vueltas y vale la pena leerlo.

8 thoughts on “The Leopard by Jo Nesbo

  1. >José Ignacio – Thank you for your honest and thoughtful review. You've pointed out some things that even the most talented authors can do that can put a reader off. I'm not much of a one for extreme violence, myself, and I also know exactly what you mean about the length. It will be really interesting to see where Nesbø goes next with his work.

  2. >One of the aspects that was intriguing was how you thought Harry had the story right and then discovered that it was only part of it. That happened at least twice and contributed considerably to the length. Good review Jose Ignacio. We concur on many things (again!)

  3. >I am trying to read the Nesbo books in the correct order so am not up to this one yet – but one of the thing that puts me of Nemesis (the one I am up to) is the length – 600+ pages – I really can't be bothered starting

  4. >Margot, I'm looking forward for the next Nesbo.Dorte, thanks for your visit.Maxine, you were not alone.Kerrie, even those plot twists, don't justify the lenght in my opinion. I just notice we agree on a number of points.Bernadette, Nemesis is worth the effort, in my opinion.

  5. Pingback: New Releases December 2011 | The Game's Afoot

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