Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Phantom by Jo Nesbø


Harry Hole has interrupted his his three-year sojourn in Hong Kong (where he says he resided at Chungking Mansions) to return to Oslo's Hotel Leon. Sporting a facial scar and a titanium finger, Harry is sober and has renewed contacts with Oslo's police force. Oslo has changed and not: there is a beautiful new Opera House but street drugs are still ubiquitous. This has to be one of the best of the series so far—Harry manages to save himself from drug lords using his titanium finger in one instance, and an empty bottle of Kentucky Bourbon in another.

Harry fills out his photo album with pictures of his estranged family that we became familiar with in The Snowman: step-son Oleg now has grown up, but has fallen into drug addiction. Rakel is the same but may be moving on in his absence. His old nemesis at Crepos is making hay without Harry to keep him honest. Everyone is older, wiser, scarred.

It is to get Oleg out of the clink that Harry begins to investigate the death of a young street pusher, and what he finds nearly kills him. Nesbø does a great job with characterization and motivation with this #9 in the series, and leaves this reader wondering if the next fight Harry picks will be his last.

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores


  1. This isn't quite my genre, but it is good to hear that even at book 9, the story still feels fresh and real.

    1. You know, I had trouble with the series at first, partly because the author was so famous and writing crime thrillers. But I'm a sucker for foreign settings and characters, and we waited a long time for a book as good as this. We get the inside story on motivation from a street pusher, and a very odd and twisted and painfully real-sounding outcome for Hole's step-son, who gets himself tied up with ropes he cannot undo. The glitzy and unreal scenes involving near-death and empty bourbon bottles--well, we'll allow him that little bit of bravado.