Scandinavian crime writers are the next big thing. Everyone has finished their Girl-Dragon-Tattoo-Playing-with-Fire-and-Kicking-Hornet’s-Nests and they want more. I’ve been into these writers for a while (in the last few months I reviewed books by Denmark’s Sara Blaedel and Norway’s Karin Fossum) so of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a look at the new book from the newest Norwegian superstar, Jo Nesbø.
Nesbø has a long-standing series of novels following Inspector Harry Hole. (This is the 8th one, though I don’t believe all of them have been translated into English.) But you probably don’t have to go backtracking through all the previous books to get started. (Though you may want to seriously consider reading The Snowman before you read this.)
For me, I found The Leopard to be strongly plotted, though I wish it had ended sooner. Just had a few too many twists at the end for me. But I know not everyone thinks the same as me. So I set about trying to imagine the kind of reader who would love this book.
I’ve digested this new novel into a few simple elements that will tell you whether it’s up your alley.
Signs You Might Like The Leopard
You like to have a series of several novels about the same detective/place/type of crime. (But seriously, you may want to read The Snowman first.)
You like grizzled and jaded cops and ex-cops as your main characters. (Think Harry Bosch… on opium.)
You like a plot that is filled to the brim with twists and turns. (We’re talking FILLED. This is a long book and it doesn’t let up.)
You like serial killer novels. (Cuz this DEFINITELY qualifies.)
You like books set in exotic locations. (The main events take place in Oslo, but we also travel to Hong Kong and even the Congo.)
You like (or at least don’t mind) books with a variety of violent deaths. (The “Leopold’s Apple” torture device here is definitely quite gruesome.)
You like to see the personal lives of your characters play a big role in the story. (Hole deals with his dying father and a potential new love interest.)
On the Other Hand…
If you’re squeamish and can’t handle deaths involving psychological torture…
Or if you prefer your detectives young and witty and snappy…
Or if you don’t want your fluff mysteries running over 500 pages…
Or if you really don’t like starting in the middle of a series…
Or if you feel overly manipulated by excessive plot twists…
Then this may not be the book for you.
Hope that’s enough guidance for all of you. I gave it 3 stars of 5. Solid in many ways, but not my style exactly.
Thanks to Edelweiss and Random House for providing me with an e-copy of this book to review. It was released this Tuesday the 13th and is at bookstores everywhere.