Friday, 16 August 2013

The Leopard

by Jo Nesbø
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Knopf and Vintage Books - 2012
688 pages - 19.95 $

I bought this book with a gift card received for my birthday. I had decided to buy only authors I did not know. Jo Nesbø was one of them but he's so well known by lovers of good thrillers, it was absolutely necessary for me to read one of his book.


Two women are found murdered in Oslo – both of them have drowned in their own blood. What mystifies the police, is that the puncture wounds in the victim’s faces have been caused from the inside of their mouths. Kaja Solness from Homicide is sent to Hong Kong to track down a man that is the Oslo Police Department’s only specialist on serial killings. The severely addicted detective has tried to disappear in the vast, anonymous city. He is on the run and haunted by his last case

What I think of it

I love it! Nesbø became one of my favorite authors. He now stands next to Chattam and Holm (that is something!) In less than ten lines, I was caught up by the story, I could not take it down. So beware, once again, this is an author who does not hesitate to stage violence. This is not for everyone, because honestly, some scenes are difficult to read because they're very graphic. As I love this style, it was pure happiness through the 688 pages that scroll at an extraordinary speed. Yes, 688 pages for a thriller can be scary, but do not worry, it devours quickly! (I've read the French version which contains 848 pages...)

But what makes this book so good, dear reader?

The characters, especially Harry Hole, disillusioned inspector, alcoholic, drug addict, but oh so endearing! This was my first encounter with him, and not in the best conditions, it must be said, since he's found drugged in Hong Kong. Yet, the depth of his character brings us to love him, because we can sense that there is something else behind this fucked facade. The other characters are equally well written, complex, a little predictable for some and they emphasize different aspects of Harry.

The story gets off the a good start, a really good one. We are in the action since the first page, we live the crime through the eyes of the victim, it's pretty intense, thank you! The pace did not falter. We travel a lot: in Asia, the Congo, Rwanda, Norway, as the investigation goes along. Nesbø gives us a very clear idea of ​​the countries Harry visits, their history and particularity, which makes an even more gripping story. We feel that there is a solid basis to the story, which makes it more concrete, more realistic.

The investigation seems to go in all directions, we are lost, we think we have figured it out and we find ourselves elsewhere, in short Nesbø play with our nerves. The motive seems confusing, the investigation complex, we do not see the threat coming, we take it in the face and bam! we remain shocked at having been deceived... again. With all that, Nesbø still manages to bring through the crime a good old feud between two services, a war in which one organization (Kripo or criminal brigade) will win, leaders who put sticks in the wheels, making the investigation more difficult. In summary, there is no dead time (but a lot of deads).

I read on blogs that Nesbø is the new Stieg Larsson (author of the Millennium). Come on! In my case, if Larsson helped the Scandinavian kind of crime fiction to be known worldwide, I have not found that his three novels were exceptional. Nesbø is, in my opinion, a much better writer! I did not experience as many emotions while reading the three Millennium that I had with The Leopard. The suspense is more intense, the dialogues are better written, the characters are very endearing, realistic and well-written (ok, Lisbeth was very well written too). I tell you, we are a notch above with Nesbø (and the notch is high!)

Here's an excerpt of the book and tell me, honestly, does it not make you want to read more?


The drowsiness came. Harry stopped digging. Even though he knew this spell death. A seductive, alluring death, taking him into its arms. Why protest, why fight, why choose pain when he could succumb? Why choose anything other than what he has always done? 
Harry closed his eyes. 

(entire excerpt here on Jo Nesbø's site

In a nutshell

One of the best books I've read this year. An author I learned to love. Amateurs of black, Nordic, complex and panting thrillers, treat yourself! A book that should be included in any good bookshelf. I give it a 5/5.

My thought on closing the book: Oh damn, that was good!


  1. I so agree with you about the comparison with Stieg Larsson! I don't know why his trilogy became so famous, because there are so many other far better Scandinavian writers, like Nesbo, Karin Fossum, Mankell, Lackberg.

  2. Happy to see I'm not the only one to think that.

    Also, I found I already have a book by Karin Fossum while rearranging my bookshelves! I know that's lame not to know what you bought... but I buy so much books! So that's two books (with Lemaitre) I've bought according to your advise :)