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.

For additional reading

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

You might also enjoy my posts:

And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, plus a guide to this whole site, on the Home Page.