In the depths of winter, a killer stalks the city streets. His victims are two young women, both found with twenty-four inexplicable puncture wounds, both drowned in their own blood. The crime scenes offer no clues, the media is reaching fever pitch, and the police are running out of options. There is only one man who can help them, and he doesn’t want to be found. Deeply traumatized by The Snowman investigation, which threatened the lives of those he holds most dear, Inspector Harry Hole has lost himself in the squalor of Hong Kong’s opium dens. But with his father seriously ill in hospital, Harry reluctantly agrees to return to Oslo. He has no intention of working on the case, but his instinct takes over when a third victim is found brutally murdered in a city park.
The victims appear completely unconnected to one another, but it’s not long before Harry makes a discovery: the women all spent the night in an isolated mountain hostel. And someone is picking off the guests one by one. A heart-stopping thriller from the bestselling author of the The Snowman, The Leopard is an international phenomenon that will grip you until the final page.
The first thing that I noticed about this book was the length, it is longer that most of the other Harry Hole books I have read, and secondly, there is much more violence.
Here is the book in a nut shell:
- Following the traumatic events of the previous novel, The Snowman, former police inspector Harry Hole has exiled himself in Hong Kong and frequents the Opium Dens.
- Kaja Solness, a new Norwegian Crime Squad officer, tracks down Hole and asks for his help in investigating a series of possible serial murders in Oslo.
- Solness convinces Hole to return when she tells him that his father, Olav, is seriously ill and will not live much longer.
- Harry returns to the Crime Squad unit to find it engaged in a power struggle with Kripos—Norway’s national crime investigation unit that investigates organized and serious crime. Its power-hungry head, Mikael Bellman, seeks to have all Norwegian murder investigations placed under his agency’s jurisdiction. From the very moment of landing in Norway, Hole finds himself the target of Bellman’s hostility—though the head of Kripos is not averse to obtaining the results of Hole’s investigation and taking credit for them.
- Hole and Solness discover that all three victims had stayed at the same ski lodge some time previously, all on the same night. Harry deduces that the murders are part of the killer’s attempts to cover up his trail. 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 it is discovered that he has been murdered by the killer.
- Following a discussion with The Snowman, from his previous case, Harry believes that the murderer is someone whom he knows and who has become close to him. This person is arrested but, unfortunately, Harry’s instincts are proven wrong. It is then discovered that the real killer has fled to the Congo, where Harry and Solness pursue the killer. There Harry—and separately Solness—are kidnapped by associates of the killer. Harry manages to escape and, following clues given by one of the killer’s associates, finally confronts and kills the murderer at the lip of a live volcano.
- Later, at the funeral of his father, Harry spots his former lover, Rakel, and her son, Oleg, who have fled from Norway following the events of The Snowman murders. At this short meeting, Harry manages to confirm that they are happy away from Norway. It becomes apparent that Rakel is the one great love of Harry’s life—that no other woman can truly replace her, and that Kaja’s deep love for Harry and her aspiration to build a life together with him are doomed to failure and to heartbreak.
- Harry returns to see The Snowman, who is gravely ill and who feels some remorse for his crimes. It is tacitly suggested that Harry helps The Snowman to commit suicide out of remorse for having failed to follow his father’s request for him to perform euthanasia.
- By the end of the novel, Harry has accumulated many new traumatic memories and haunting “ghosts”—having been very near death several time. He mutilated his own face to get free of the killer’s fiendish trap. He shot an African mercenary who turned out to be a young boy. He twice saved Kaja’s life by ruthlessly sacrificing somebody else’s: during an avalanche, while resuscitating Kaja, he allows another police officer to suffocate to death and, at the final showdown in Africa, while shooting down the murderer, Harry inadvertently kills another woman who was held hostage. Though not facing any charges for these deaths, Harry is well aware of what he has done and is determined to return to Hong Kong for good.
I feel so bad for Harry because he just could not catch a break in this book and now he goes back down the rabbit hole in Hong Kong. (makes me want to cry)
Five stars *****