Leopold’s Apples, Cross Country Skis and Krumkake: The Leopard by Jo Nesbø

Dear Reader:

Colder today – more seasonal, although early May can be like this: frosty nights and sunny days.  We had a long nearly two hour hike with friends Shelle and Jo and their dogs Darcie and Mundy.

Zoe’s doing so well – she had a great time playing hard with everybody and when I call Gus in, Zoe comes – much faster than my highly obedience-trained golden retriever.  Both my dogs wear bells when I’m going to let them off leash (technically, Zoe’s dragging a leash, but I consider her loose) – Zoe has a little one and Gus a bigger one.  They are there to warn bikers and runners that dogs are around (Zoe may have a tendency to chase and I want to be 100% sure she won’t nip a runner) and the bells also help me greatly in locating the dogs, knowing when they are running back to me.  I also really like that, due to their size differences, the bells sound different so I can tell which dog I’m hearing.

Found two ticks on Gus tonight, tis the season.

#416) The Leopard by Jo Nesbø

Finished this fat little 740 pp paperback. Harry Hole is back from his alcohol and opium-induced vacation, fighting to help the Crime Squad retain control of murders, and to find out who is killing, killing, killing.

Norway has a wonderful system of cabin to cabin cross country skiing and this book uses the system as its core.  People sign up for membership and then just show up at the cabins.  Eight people stayed at one particular cabin in November and now they are dying, one by one, in horrible ways.  Why?  How?  Who?

Some die through the use of the fictional “Leopold’s Apple” a diabolical, fictional, instrument of torture.  Inserted into someone’s mouth, it quickly causes pain and panic as their tissues swell and jaws ache, causing them to pull the string in front in a desperate attempt to remove it.

Leopold’s Apple Sketch (Source: Wikipedia).

Pulling the string causes the spines to come out, impaling the individual, causing them to bleed into their lungs, and eventually, drown.  Fictional, remember that before you go to bed tonight!

As I said in my earlier post, we think we know who the killer is.  But then we don’t.  But then we do.  But then we don’t….  The book is full of twists and turns, helping us to understand what he’s going to do with all those remaining pages when the crime is solved and the killer arrested.

Many consider Nesbø one of the best of the current capacious batch of Scandinavian-named crime writers.  His writing is tighter than Mankell and less socially-conscious.  Harry (who I think has been the protagonist in all the Nesbø novels I’ve read – maybe three or four?) is your typical randy (but separated), alcoholic (but under control, well… some of the time) homicide detective with problems with authority.  He’s about the most troubled crime fighter around.  I don’t find him all that likeable, but, like all the great homicide detectives, he is omnipotent and omniscient.  Although his body is rapidly accumulating scars.

As far as I know, no krumkake was eaten in the book – to me, Harry missed out on the best part of being in Norway.

If I had to choose a favorite Scandinavian mystery writer, I think I’d say Karin Fossom.  My twenty book pledge prevents me from buying more of her books right now, but I’ve read a handful and very much enjoyed them.  Her detective is very likeable, treats women well, has a big dog (yes!), and is kind to people.  Her books are more psychological, place-descriptive, and realistic.  Less fighting and gore.  But I do also like Nesbø.  Maybe I’ll put him and Henning Mankell about equal.

Flower of the Day

A rather spectacular peony, don’t you think?  Still alive and well in my garden remnant.

Happy reading, Ruby



  1. Well that’s enough to put me off apples for a few days…certainly not a book I’d want to read before trying to sleep.
    Glad that the walking is going so well with Zoe; she’s so lucky to have a big brother who can model such good behavior 🙂

    • Hi: Thanks for writing! I didn’t mean to suggest that GUS recalls well… it is ironic to have Zoe hurtling back to me when I call Gus and Gus ignoring me. So, I think this is a case of the youngest trying to show up the recalcitrant oldest, Ruby

  2. I found this book a bit too gruesome, gratuitously so. I agree with you about Karin Fossum. Her books are creepy but without so much blood. I like Henning Mankell better than Nesbo too, I think.

    • Hi! Thanks for writing – it sounds like we like a lot of the same mystery writers. Sometimes they do blur together, it helps me that I’m tending to read sets of authors’ books. Happy reading, Ruby

  3. BillieJune

    Just finished the Leopard….wow! Now I have to go back and read the Snowman.


  1. The List « A Year of Actually Reading My Own Books

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