THE LEOPARD, by Jo Nesbo

8/series. Translated from the Norwegian, these intricately-plotted prize winners just keep getting rougher and tougher. Harry, disintegrating with panache in Hong Kong's drug-ridden Kowloon, is brought back to Oslo by a policewoman after she tells him his father is near death. Hole must return, and - despite the horrific toll his last case (The Snowman) took on him - agrees to work on what appears to be yet another serial killer. He is soon, as always, embroiled in the vicious in-fighting at the upper levels of law enforcement, now threatened to be brought under a single controlling entity.
The guiding hand of this consolidation scheme is power-hungry Mikael Bellman, who at once sees Hole as a liability. But the body count is on the rise and Hole, seemingly impervious to the results of repeated bannings and other diversionary tactics, bulls his way along the investigative path, from Norway to The Congo and back. To me, there is an element of fantasy to some of these tales, in spite of their gritty, hyper-realistic detail. Hole, flawed, damaged, fragile, self-destructive, is implacable; he sees things clearly, especially his options. Even when he has none. If you are entranced by the intricate unfolding of multi-layered international police procedurals (not that Hole fills the role of a man who follows procedures), this is the series for you. It's a 4.5, well worth your time. Best read in order (which I have not done, darn it). For over 500 book reviews in all genres, visit
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