Written by Jo Nesbø

Number 8 in Harry Hole

Publisher: Aschehoug
Pages: 517
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Published: 2009-01-01
Original Language: Norwegian

To kvinner er funnet drept i Oslo, begge druknet i sitt eget blod og med stikksår i munnen. Politiet står uten spor og beslutter seg for å finne etterforsker Harry Hole. Han har flyktet fra landet og befinner seg i et herberge i Hong Kong, der han doper seg mens han gjemmer seg for kreditorer. Lokkemiddelet for å få Hole til å komme hjem er at gjelden hans vil bli slettet. Og at faren ligger for døden. Drapssakene har han mindre interesse for. Inntil noe skjer.

Read from 2020-04-22 to 2020-05-03
Read in English
Rating: 4/5
Review: Panserhjerte (“The Leopard” in English) is a Harry Hole story that once again pushes the boundaries of the extreme, grandiose, and exaggerated, but that, strangely enough, seems more like an ordinary crime novel than the Harry Hole novels that preceded it.

Harry has once again quit his job, and is hanging out where he is certain that he can’t be tracked down. He is then tracked down, and dragged into yet another case of a serial killer being on the loose in Oslo. Both the Oslo police and the national special-super-serious-crime-police are struggling — to get anywhere in the case, yes, but also against each other: there are rumours that the ministry of justice wants to hand all murder-investigations over to the national special-super-serious-crime-police (I can only assume that I’m translating “Kripos” fairly), and this case is seen as a bit of a test for both departments. Harry Hole manages to make some breakthroughs in the case, but inevitably gets caught up in the politics between the national police and the Oslo police. The case itself might (shockingly) also have more to it than at first meets the eye.

Panserhjerte is, for better or for worse, more about the crimes that have been committed, and less about Harry’s personal life and struggles than the previous books have been. The investigation of the case is also less convoluted. Whereas the previous books, The Snowman especially, had red herrings and misleading leads all over the place, Panserhjerte is more traditional in the way it directs and misdirects. Personally I’ve found the life of Harry Hole to be my favourite part about these books, though I can see this book being less divisive and harder to dislike thanks to the decreased focus on Harry. Even though Panserhjerte is more of a generic crime-story than the previous books in the series, it still holds its own, and is a well-crafted, entertaining, piece of storytelling. That said, the story employs a God-like cheatcode’esque power when harry needs hard-to-get information. The way it’s done is just about shameless enough that it didn’t ruin anything for me: it’s obviously a way to get around an otherwise difficult storytelling problem, and it’s explicitly and honestly dishonest. I would have preferred a smarter, more subtle, way of solving the same “how do we give Harry this information” problem, but hey, I can live with it.

All in all Panserhjerte is a less distinctive, more relaxing, less complicated Harry Hole book than the other ones. It’s not a bad book, but also not a great advertisement for the series as a whole, and felt like a bit of a let-down after The Snowman. The Harry Hole series is still excellent however, and I’m happy to almost be caught up.