At the end of his previous thriller, The Snowman, Jo Nesbo's Inspector Harry Hole was a ravaged mess. At the start of The Leopard, we find Hole hiding away from the world, smoking opium in the squalor of Hong Kong's back alleys. A pretty young police officer drags him reluctantly back to Norway to pursue another serial killer, this one more twisted and vicious than the Snowman. Despite some far-fetched scenes, Hole is a damaged, soulful, and believable character. And Nesbo is proving to be a major talent, an eloquent writer who,, with the end of Steig Larsson's trilogy and the retirement of Henning Mankell's brooding detective Kurt Wallander, seems poised to become heir to the title "King of the Nordic thriller."