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Twists and Turns Galore
Jo Nesbo, Norwegian mystery writer extraordinaire, has followed up his last novel, The Snowman, with a novel sure to appeal to his many fans. The Leopard is a mystery with more twists and turns than the human mind can fathom. However, as one reads this novel, it all seems clear and even rational. The beastly serial killer has a rationale and only the super-hero, Harry Hole is capable of getting him. Ironically, he turns to his last adversary, The Snowman, for some help.
The novel starts out with the killing of three women in a sadistic fashion using a tool called 'the apple'. It is put into the victim's mouth and if the victim pulls the twine, or if it is pulled by someone else, needles come out of the ball and pierce the sinuses, eyes, brain and mouth of the victim. Not a way anyone would choose to go, that's for sure. The criminal team in Oslo goes to Hong Kong to try to get Harry Hole to return to Norway. In Hong Kong he is entrenched in opium dens, bemoaning the loss of his love, Rakel, and her son Oleg, who left him in The Snowman. Harry returns to Norway to help his team out, only to be ensconced in a political situation that is a mess. There is a group called Krispo, headed by a narcissistic leader, Mikael, who has it in for Harry and his team. The name of the game for Mikael is self-gratification and rewards. He wants to be cheered by his nation as the number one hunter and capturer of murderers, not for the sake of goodness or for the intrinsic desire to be a good policeman, but for hubris. Harry, on the other hand, couldn't much care how he looks to others. He wants the bad guys caught and behind bars.
What transpires as the meat of this novel is that a group of people who visited a ski hut in rural Norway are getting killed off one by one. The page that has the list of who was in the ski hut on the important night in question has mysteriously been torn from the registration book and there are no clues as to where to begin the search. Leave it to Harry, however, to find just one clue, even a little one, to start an investigation going. Not only is there a serial killer loose, but there is no rhyme or reason as to why he is killing these folks.
The book is character driven and the reader gets to know each and every person. There is action galore as well, both inside the minds of the protagonists and in the bullet-ridden trenches of police work. I think that Nesbo has become my favorite Scandinavian crime writer as of this book. He has it all and I fell in head first from page one and didn't come up for air until the end. He is in the same league as Fossum, Larsen, and Mankell. And for those of you who are not familiar with these three, this is a real compliment.
My only regret is that I didn't start out with the first book in the Harry Hole series. I think this would give me a better perspective on his life and who he is. Thank goodness I own these books and can sit down and read them at my leisure.