The Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo

The Leopard

Harry Hole #8

Paperback: 688 pages
Hardcover: 517 pages
Publisher: Knopf and Vintage Books
ISBN: 9780307743183

In this electrifying new addition to Jo Nesbø’s internationally acclaimed series, Harry Hole must confront the darkest demons in his city—and in himself. Inspector Harry Hole has retreated to Hong Kong, escaping the trauma of his last case in squalid opium dens, when two young women are found dead in Oslo, both drowned in their own blood. Media coverage quickly reaches a fever pitch. There are no clues, the police investigation is stalled, and Harry—the one man who might be able to help—can’t be found. After he returns to Oslo, the killer strikes again, Harry’s instincts take over, and nothing can keep him from the investigation, though there is little to go on. Worse, he will soon come to understand that he is dealing with a psychopath who will put him to the test, both professionally and personally, as never before.

“Meaty, gripping, full of tantalizing twists.”
—Associated Press

“A true page-turner, and a worthy sequel to The Snowman.”
—Newark Star-Ledger

The Leopard rewards you with a finale as unexpected and thought-provoking as any in recent mystery-fiction memory.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“A cracking good thriller. . . . Immerse yourself and enjoy the ride.”
—The Guardian (London)

“The action in The Leopard sweeps from a volcano in Africa to the remotest snow-covered mountains of Norway, but many of the novel’s best parts involve Harry’s silent struggles. . . . There’s always a twist, always a surprise, always a variation on a theme.”
—The Dallas Morning News

“Nesbø also deepens the central mystery at the heart of Harry’s pursuits: which is not so much the truth about himself, but rather, whether he can learn to live with that truth. He is a giant of the Scandinavian mystery.”
—The Boston Globe

“Outstanding. . . . Nesbø moves the action easily from Hong Kong to Norway, with side trips to the Democratic Republic of Congo, without ever losing the plot’s sense of urgency.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred)

“This one stands up to the ante one more time. . . . Crime fiction’s most tortured and compelling hero. Alas, no armor exists strong enough to keep Harry from his demons, or the rest of us from Harry.”
—Booklist (starred)

“Comparisons with Stieg Larsson have been made, but Nesbø’s plots move quickly, carry more punch, and really do keep you guessing to the final page.”
—Daily Mirror

The Leopard’s unflagging narrative tension, breathtaking surprises and many confrontations with half-suspected treachery . . . are superb.”
—The Independent

The Leopard was awarded with The Danish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award (Palle Rosenkrantz Prisen) 2009 for Best Crime Novel of the Year. The motivation being: “Jo Nesbø has, with the anarchistic and alcoholic Harry Hole, revitalized the classic Chandler-esque investigator, who with self-destructive honesty gets in with the ladies and out with nearly everyone else. Especially serial killers and superiors. The Leopard is the latest example of Jo Nesbø’s exceptionally skillful and persistent writing.”

The Leopard was No. 1 on the official UK hardcover fiction chart in January 2011, making it the second translated book ever to top the chart.

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“I used two attempts to write this novel. I spent a year and a half on my first attempt, writing a full novel. I had finished a second version when I decided it was not good enough and threw it all away. My editors just stared at me when I told them they had to wait a bit longer for the new Harry Hole-novel, that I had just used the delete- button. But I picked up some of the building blocks; Harry’s story line, some of the characters and some of the scenes that I really liked and added a completely new story. A year later the result was there; my longest and maybe most complex story so far; The Leopard.”

Jo speaks about The Leopard

A trailer on The Leopard produced by Harvill Secker in co-operation with director Yasmin Al-Naib and cinematographer Christopher Moon

A trailer on The Leopard from Jo’s German publisher, Ullstein

“Maddeningly addictive.”
Vanity Fair (US)

“The writing in The Leopard is awesome. The ironic deflations, twisty plot, and grisly action keep a reader riveted to the page. /…/ I have never read a more suspenseful book. /…/ Nesbø plays with ironic deflation like no author I’ve ever seen. He sets you up to believe a terrible thing is going to happen and then – it’s not Freddy Krueger about to stab you to death, it’s the cat knocking a bowl of milk off the counter. You laugh at your nervousness, and relax. Five pages later, Krueger impales you. Nor will you be able to figure out who the killer is. Nesbø has more twists in his repertoire than Chubby Checker. /…/ The Leopard is a great novel, and if it doesn’t presage the end of Western civilization, I don’t know what does.”
Philadelphia Inquirer (US)

“Mr. Nesbø, despite what would be tragic flaws in lesser hands, takes these flaws and uses them to his advantage to make for a hell of a good book. How? His powers of description and mastery of the written word are both eloquent and elegant. His control of pacing is exquisite. He’s a writer of great talent, an excellent craftsman /…/ The Leopard is conceptually a huge undertaking for an author, an unusual, eccentric, and excellent work. Highly recommended.”
New York Journal of Books (US)

*starred review*
“What Harry [Hole] craves, he tells us, is “an armored heart.” We could use one, too, if we ever hope to turn away from the adventures of crime fiction’s most tortured and compelling hero. Alas, no armor exists strong enough to keep Harry from his demons, or the rest of us from Harry. /…/ This one stands to up the ante one more time.”
Booklist (US)

“Seemingly at the drop of a fedora, Nesbo can evoke a world-weary gloom that fits neatly in the noir tradition. But his prose has a wistfulness that sometimes lifts it into something loftier because he mixes bleak existential dread with an awareness of fragile, heart-stopping beauty. And that’s what distinguishes Nesbo from a crowded field of Nordic crime writers.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch (US)

“[The Leopard] contains real pleasures, with three fantastic twists and a final 150 pages that run by at a blistering pace.”
USA Today (US)

*starred review*
“Outstanding /…/ Nesbø moves the action easily from Hong Kong to Norway, with side trips to the Democratic Republic of Congo, without ever losing the plot’s sense of urgency. Hole, put through the emotional wringer in The Snowman, doesn’t get much of a reprieve in this intense outing.”
Publishers Weekly (US)

“Nesbø knows exactly what he’s doing [in] this gripping, intricately plotted tale /…/ Like all intelligent crime fiction, this book is not only about multiple murders by heinous means. It is also about legacies, most specifically about the good and evil, love and hate, passed from one generation to the next. This vivid, violent novel promises to speak on many levels to many readers and will be snatched up by Scandinavian crime fiction fans.”
Library Journal (US)

The Leopard begins with a grisly, sadistic murder and doesn’t slow down for more than 500 pages. /…/ Each of the dozens of characters — almost all of whom come under suspicion, often justly, at one point or another — is carefully described /…/ The novel has a classic hard-boiled mystery structure, with clever clues, red herrings and shocking twists galore.”
The Columbus Dispatch (US)

“If any lingering doubts remain about the congruity of ‘literary’ and genre worthiness, Jo Nesbo’s The Leopard will surely dispel all but the most curmudgeonly of reservations. /…/ There may be more subtle characterizers, superior plotters, finer conveyers of substance, or more skilful conjurers of mood and place than Nesbo, but no one springs to mind. In any case, none deliver all of these literary essentials so well. The Leopard once again offers convincing evidence that Nesbo is, arguably, the best crime practitioner on the planet – and one of the best novelists of any stripe.”
Winnipeg Free Press (Canada)

“Moves at a pace as breathless as a cold Norwegian winter’s night /…/ When it comes to action, Nesbo has a trick or two up his sleeve /…/ And the author knows how to surprise with his choice of exotic locales /…/ Hole is a flawed but compelling character.”
The Chronicle Herald (Canada)

The Globe and Mail (Canada)

“This has all the nasty, edge-of-your-seat creepiness and intrigue to keep you hooked to the end.”
The Southland Times (New Zeeland)

The Leopard’s unflagging narrative tension, breathtaking surprises and many confrontations with half-suspected treachery are superb.”
The Independent (UK)
“Nesbo’s novels keep going when you think there can’t be any more twists to follow. Scenes switch from the avalanche-threatened ravines and mountain cabins of back-country Norway, close to oil-rich Stavanger and metropolitan Oslo, to an active volcano in Africa.”
The Times Literary Supplement (UK)

The Leopard, the sixth Harry Hole novel to be published in Britain, is a big and meaty, but easily digestible, slab of a read, ably translated by Don Bartlett. /…/ Nesbø deploys all the key ingredients of a cracking good thriller with expertise and verve. The ticking clock, the tension expertly racheted ever upwards, the changing scenery, the constantly shifting goalposts and his effortless, triumphant outpacing of the reader’s ability to guess what’s going to happen will keep you gripped to the last page. Suspend disbelief, immerse yourself and enjoy the ride.”
The Guardian (UK)

“There are passages [which are] so anatomically gruesome… that they can only be properly read through the gaps between protecting fingers.”
Prospect (UK)

“Outstanding … Probably the best big crime novel you could lay your hands on this year”
BBC Radio 4 (UK)

“The plot of The Leopard is intriguing, and Nesbo’s writing is as taut as ever”
Sunday Times (UK)

“powerful writing, a plot of chilling, gripping grimness, and the hero Oslo cop Harry Hole descending even farther into his emotional maelstrom”
Saturday Times (UK)

“Nesbo ratchets up the tension with a relentless urgency”
Marie Claire (UK)

“It’s fascinating to discover, from the incident details, what it is like to live for much of the time in a world under snow…. Nesbo writes beautifully.”
Literary Review (UK)

“Nesbø is not the next Stieg Larsson. There is no comparison between the two Scandinavian crime writers: Nesbø is infinitely better. /…/ There are lots of good reasons to love Nesbø, who was once a major-league footballer, then became a chart-topping musician. He doesn’t try to blind with science or bore with ballistics. The killings are shocking but not senseless. The detective work is slow but very clever. You won’t see the killer a mile off, and there are as many red herrings as you might expect in that part of the world. No detail is wasted, so you must pay attention from page one if you want to understand the fabulously satisfying puzzle that is a Nesbø novel.”
Irish Times (Ireland)

“If you like detective fiction, you’ll love this. /…/ Nesbo writes smart blockbuster fiction but with a melancholy and intelligent edge.”
Independent (Ireland)

“Jo Nesbø strongly aspires to the title of the best Nordic crime writer. … He also writes fantastic dialogue, suspenseful as hell and the text is dense, dense … Jo Nesbø continues toward the very top of European crime writers.”
Dagens Industri (Sweden)

“[Harry] Hole has for each book developed to become one of the most interesting and diverse heroes of contemporary crime literature…The Leopard rewards its readers with an experience that can accommodate many levels, in addition to the straightforward page-turner mystery.”
Sydsvenska Dagbladet (Sweden)

“The opening chapter with an African torture [device] is so hair-raising that the readers heart, from the very first line, takes on the armored heart condition you get if buried in an avalanche. /…/ With Jo Nesbø one is not only buried in snow, but also in suspense until the last page. In addition, one is introduced to both murderers and investigators that by far live up to the criteria real people.”
Fyens Stiftstidende (Denmark)
“The story drags [Detective] Hole from Hong Kong to Oslo, to sizzling Congolese volcanoes and to snow-capped mountains, and it occurs in a pace and with an elegance that makes the English expression page-turner the most precise description of The Leopard. But readers who expect a happy ending will, as always with Nesbø, be disappointed. That, however, only makes [his] novels better. It is beyond solid craftsmanship to be able to maintain the suspense in a story over so many pages. And where the greatest bestseller of our times – the deceased Stieg Larsson – despite the success barely managed to hold the plot-lines together the entire way, Nesbø commands the art until the very last page. Thus, the book is both long and captivating.”
Information (Denmark)

“The best crime novel I have read since the Millennium-trilogy. And more well-written.”
Ekstra Bladet (Denmark)

“An explosive and fast-paced crime novel. A brick of 635 pages that one with excitement and expectation devours with blind and almost childish conviction that the joy of expectation will be met. Nesbø and [Detective] Hole do not disappoint. /…/ A terrifyingly intelligent and surprising plot that captivates form the first page, and surprises and drags the reader through [his or her] entire catalogue of emotions until the last page. /…/ Jo Nesbø keeps his reader enthralled in an astonishing way, as he together with Harry searches for an explanation to the madness – an answer obscured in darkness.”
Fredericia Dagblad (Denmark)

“There are numerous reasons to be fond of Jo Nesbø and his Harry Hole. Unlike many of his colleagues, Harry Hole never becomes sophisticated. He is just as addicted and unreliable in private matters as always – contrary to crime-colleagues like Mathew Scudder in Lawrence Block’s New Yorker books, Dave Robicheaux in James Lee Burke’s Deep South thrillers, and the nameless [investigator] in Dan Turell’s local thrillers. They get sweet wives and not too much alcohol. In addition, Jo Nesbø writes better than most, and that says a lot in a Scandinavian context. /…/ It is lethally entertaining with the unexpected twists that are Nesbø’s trademark.”
Weekendavisen (Denmark)

“A sleep-depriving suspense novel in which the pages turn themselves, while the readers are on a marathon of curiosity. Who could the killer be?”
Politiken (Denmark)

“A crime novel of significant proportions. /…/ One turns page after page, and not one single word feels excessive.”
Jyllands-Posten (Denmark)

“Ruthlessly suspenseful.”
Nordjyske Stiftstidende (Denmark)

“This is not only Norway’s best crime novel. It may be the world’s best.”
ABC Nyheter (Norway)

“The eighth Harry Hole-novel competes with the very best in the genre. The Leopard is a veritable hyperbole of a suspense novel, six hundred pages with an intrigue that both grips and rattles the reader from the very first moment.”
Dagbladet (Norway)

“Another top-quality crime novel. /…/ Jo Nesbø has once again crafted a linguistic fireworks of a book.”
Aftenposten (Norway)


The Leopard (excerpt) by Jo Nesbø