ⓘ The Leopard, Nesbo novel. The Leopard is a crime novel by Norwegian novelist, Jo Nesbo. Its Norwegian title is Panserhjerte, which does not directly translate t ..

The Leopard (Nesbo novel)

ⓘ The Leopard (Nesbo novel)

The Leopard is a crime novel by Norwegian novelist, Jo Nesbo. Its Norwegian title is Panserhjerte, which does not directly translate to The Leopard; it rather means something along the lines of "armoured heart". Moreover, "leopard" refers to the stealthy tread of the killer in the book, while "armoured heart" is what Harry Hole himself gains by his experiences. Panserhjerte is also a Norwegian term for Constrictive pericarditis. The Leopard is the eighth novel featuring Nesbos crime detective, Inspector Harry Hole.


1. Synopsis

Following the traumatic Snowman case, former police inspector Harry Hole has exiled himself in Hong Kong. Kaja Solness, a new Norwegian Crime Squad officer, tracks down Hole and asks for his help investigating possible serial killings in Oslo. Hole is convinced to return when told that his father, Olav, is seriously ill and will not live much longer. Hole returns to Norway to find that the Crime Squad is in the middle of a power struggle with Kripos and its power-hungry head, Mikael Bellman, who seeks to put his agency in sole charge of the countrys murder cases. Hole finds himself the target of Bellmans hostility, though Bellman is keen to take credit for the result of Holes work.

Hole is reluctant to take part in the investigation until a female MP is found murdered in a park. Contrary to Bellmans conclusions, Hole believes that the MPs murder is connected to the other two. Hole and Solness, teaming up with Holes former colleagues at Crime Squad, begin an undercover investigation into the case without the knowledge of Kripos. While working together, Hole and Solness are drawn to each other and begin a tempestuous love affair. The two discover that all three victims stayed at the same ski lodge on the same night. Hole deduces that the murders are part of the killers attempts to cover his tracks. Suspicion initially falls on a man known to have been at the ski lodge at the time, but he is eliminated from the enquiry when he is murdered by the killer.

After Hole forces Bellman to include him on the Kripos team, he finds that another person had been at the ski lodge at the time of the first three murders. However, that person is in Australia and refuses a request to be bait for the killer. Hole and Solness instigate a sting operation to draw out the killer, which almost costs them their lives when the killer outsmarts them. Hole comes to believe that the murderer is someone whom he knows, but the person he suspects is exonerated upon arrest. Hole and Solness then pursue the real killer into the Congo. There, they are kidnapped by associates of the killer. Hole manages to escape and, following clues given by one of the killers associates, finally confronts and kills the culprit at the lip of a live volcano.

Later, at the funeral of his father, Hole is reunited with his former lover, Rakel Fauke, and her son, Oleg. Hole visits the Snowman in custody, who is gravely ill and feels some remorse for his crimes. It is tacitly suggested that Hole helps the Snowman to commit suicide out of remorse for having failed to follow his fathers request for him to perform euthanasia. Because of the fresh traumas stemming from the case, Hole is determined to return to Hong Kong for good.


2. Style

Compared to the other novels in the series, The Leopard has a more cinematic and action-orientated style, taking place across three continents. The Leopard also contains excessive violence. Nesbo has expressed regret for a couple of scenes in the book.

One of the main characters, Kaja Solness, may be a reference to The Master Builder, one of Henrik Ibsens most well known plays. The play centres on a man named Halvard Solness, whose son is engaged to a woman named Kaja. Nesbo is likely to be familiar with the play, which is a classic of Norwegian culture and of world theatre in general. The writer has not, however, made any statement on the possible connection between Ibsens character and his own.

The Leopolds Apple device that is a central feature of the novel is an invention of Nesbos that stems from a childhood memory of accepting a dare to eat a whole apple while it was still attached to the tree.

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