Cover image of "Phantom," a Harry Hole novel

Here’s what’s in store for you if you read Phantom or any other of Jo Nesbo’s engrossing Harry Hole novels:

  • maddening suspense;
  • several confusing plots and subplots that collide and intersect with abandon and only make sense as the end approaches;
  • an alcoholic, self-hating detective (Harry) who is perversely attractive because he’s so bloody brilliant;
  • lots of violence, much of it directed at Harry;
  • many characters with strange Norwegian names;
  • insightful sketches of people worthy of a clinical psychologist;
  • enough references to streets and neighborhoods in Oslo that you’ll feel moved to call up a Google map of the city;
  • more than you would ever expect about corruption in the Oslo police; and
  • a brilliant young writer’s perceptive views of his country, ranked richest in the world by median income.

Phantom (Harry Hole #9) by Jo Nesbo ★★★★☆

Phantom, the ninth of Nesbo’s Harry Hole novels, matches any of the others for suspense, complexity, and psychological depth. Harry, no longer a policeman, returns to Oslo for the first time in three years from Hong Kong. He had worked there as a debt collector for a shady local character. Back home, he confronts the chilling reality that 18-year-old Oleg, son of Rakel Fauke, the love of his life, has been arrested for the murder of a junkie and is now in prison. The police department refuses to allow him to investigate the case because, by their lights, it’s closed: the evidence is compelling.

In pursuing his desperate effort to prove the innocence of the boy who used to call him Dad, Harry becomes embroiled in a puzzling network of junkies, street people, dope dealers, corrupt policemen, and a politician on the make, and, despite his reluctance, reunites with Rakel. The tale unfolds through twists and turns, puzzling to the end — with major questions left unanswered. It’s this sort of brain-teasing complexity that keeps bringing me back for more of Jo Nesbo’s work.

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This is one of The outstanding Harry Hole thrillers from Jo Nesbo.

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