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JO Nesbo is one of Scandinavia’s top crime writers, and he’s in fine form in this latest mystery featuring his washed-up hero, Inspector Harry Hole.
Flawed, imperfect and still nursing his wounds from his last brush with a serial killer, the book opens with Hole having taken refuge in faraway Hong Kong, where he is seeking oblivion in the local opium dens.
The news that another serial killer is on the prowl back in his native Norway, and has murdered two young women in particularly gruesome circumstances, is not enough, initially, to tempt him back, but he is forced to change his mind when he hears his father is also dying.
Returning to Oslo, Hole soon finds his investigation stirring up old rivalries between the two competing branches of the law-enforcement services.
Despite these and other distractions that threaten to derail his search, he doggedly pursues the case, eventually uncovering a link between the seemingly unconnected murders: the women all spent the night in an isolated mountain hostel. As he digs deeper he also picks up a trail, which leads all the way to Rwanda, the African country from which the killer sourced his favourite instrument of torture (the Leopold’s Apple), and it is here the novel reaches its gripping climax.
Violent and lyrical by turns, The Leopard is vintage Nesbo with lots of red herrings and a convoluted plot that will keep you guessing to the end.