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Panserhjerte by Jo Nesbø
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's review
Jul 22, 2012

it was amazing
Read from January 24 to July 22, 2012

I'm a Scandanavian serial killer/wounded and tarnished ex-alcoholic police investigator obsessive. My goodreads admits me as having read over 15 novels by Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo, and others in the past three years. And, my latest read, The Leopard, cryptically titled and breathlessly told, involves disgraced and brilliant and alcoholic and daddy-issues infested and haunted Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Police investigating ever increasingly brutal and ritualistic killings involving such devices as a Leopold's Apple, which is inserted into a victim's mouth and if pulled out, shoots forth 25 spikes into various places in the mouth, nose, brain, and jaw. Nesbo drives the story from seedy opium dens and gambling pits of Hong Kong to frozen Norwegian ski lodges, isolated unknown villas to the edge of volcano craters in the cradle of civilization, The Congo. Harry Hole, flawed and on a bender of epic proportions at the start must come to terms with his relationship with his dying father, the reality of the pain he has caused maybe the only woman he has ever loved and her son (remnants of an earlier case, The Snowman), as well as his own deteriorating reputation. Nesbo infuses a sense of the consequences of colonialism, the arrogance of empire, the meticulous details of both skiing and volcanic eruptions, foregrounding the tie between the uncontainable lava spewing up from the killer, the passion that need be contained by the hunter and the hunted, as well as the hot vs. cold dynamic which parallels Harry's journey to become sober, to figure out how he negotiates his father's dying days, his own depression as well as his brilliance.

The Leopard ends on a brilliant note, and there are nods to Thomas Harris, the great crime thriller of Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter fame, in some of the plotting and lines. Yet, Nesbo is far less panoramic than some of the other Scandanavian writers that I've read. He centers everything on the squad of detectives, the mundane and grinding meetings. And his enemies are scary, dangerously scary and what happens to them is upsetting and troubling. A really wonderful chapter to a wonderfully dark, emerging saga of one cold corner of the world.

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01/24/2012 page 50
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