I had such a visceral reaction to the first few pages of this book that I had to step away for a couple days before I could pick it up again. Nesbo is decidedly unrelenting in his depiction of violence and depravity but it does work in the contexts of this book. The scene in question involves a kind of torture device used in Africa called the Leopold’s Apple. Definitely not for the faint of heart. However, looking deeper into the story it’s much less about the violence and much more about the deconstruction and reconstruction of a man. Part police procedural, psychological thriller, and man’s search for answers within himself, The Leopard is one roller coaster ride of a book.
The novel, after I was able to pick it up again, started rather slowly but sure picked up towards the end to the point that I couldn’t put it down. Taking place in Oslo, rural Norway, and even the Congo the novel has many twists and turns I never expected. Nesbo guides you through his red herrings and makes you believe everyone. Just when you think you know who the killer is guess again. Even prized detective Harry Hole is surprised with this one.
My favorite quote from the book occurs when Harry first goes to the Congo. For me this quote solidified much of the book and the way many of the characters interact with each other. Harry and his Congolese taxi driver are talking about a snow leopard and the driver states: “That one is almost impossible to hunt. It is rare, has large territory, only hunts at night. Hides and blends into environs during the day. I think it is very lonely animal, Harry.” This quote applies both to Harry and the people he hunts, two sides of the same coin.
As Harry’s father says, love and hate are the same just the flip side of the coin. Nesbo does an amazing job of showing this disparity, especially in the characters’ relationships with each other. How easy it is to flip the coin on the person next to you and how perhaps the hate you thought was destroying you could be your saving grace.
Now, this is the 8th book in the series and I definitely felt at a slight disadvantage not knowing what had happened in the previous books, since the events were heavily mentioned as influencing personality and behavior. It also makes me want to know more about Norway and the culture there since there are many different dialects brought up and placed on certain people in judgement of reverence.
Overall, I really enjoyed the ride this book took me on. While terrifying, it made me think and read between the lines, exactly what a book is supposed to do.
Stay tuned for the next book in the battle!!