THE LEOPARD

Written by Jo Nesbo

Review written by Gwen Moffat

Gwen Moffat lives in Cumbria. Her novels are set in remote communities ranging from the Hebrides to the American West. The crimes fit their environment, swelling that dreadful record of sin in the smiling countryside cited by Sherlock Holmes. The style echoes this: rustic charm masking horror.


THE LEOPARD
Harvill Secker
RRP: £12.99
Released: 20th January 2011
HBK
Don't be put off by 611 pages, from its opening with a murder involving fiendish torture this novel flies like a rocket.

In Oslo two women die horribly suggesting the arrival on the scene of a seriel killer. A crack investigator is required here but Nesbo's character, Inspector Harry Hole, has gone to ground in Hong Kong, licking his wounds after a traumatic encounter with The Snowman (see the previous book). Hole is shattered: an alcoholic and opium addicts, a compulsive gambler. A seductive detective detached to lure him back to Oslo fails until she tells him that his father is dying. He returns only to find the investigation hamprered by rivalry between his own crime squad and thugs in a newly formed department.

Hole is to spend much of his time playing dirty politics while more people are killed. Only gradually does he discover that a focal point in the case is a remote skiing cabin in the mountains but even halfway into the story neither Hole nor the ready can identify the suspects, nor even the crime. It would appear that the murders could be symptomatic: effects rather than cause.

The murders themselves are grotesque. An obese Member of Parliament dives into an empty swimming pool from the top board - with a rope round her neck. Inventive use is found for superglue, for wood-burning stoves, a snow cornice ... The action gallops along with crafty clues and exotic background to end appropriately on the rim of an active volcano in the Congo.
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