The Phantom by Jo Nesbo


Harry Hole #9

Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Vintage Books
ISBN: 9780307951151

When Harry Hole moved to Hong Kong, he thought he was escaping the traumas of his life in Oslo and his career as a detective for good. But now, the unthinkable has happened—Oleg, the boy he helped raise, has been arrested for killing a man. Harry can’t believe that Oleg is a murderer, so he returns to hunt down the real killer.

Although he’s off the police force, he still has a case to solve that will send him into the depths of the city’s drug culture, where a shockingly deadly new street drug is gaining popularity. This most personal of investigations will force Harry to confront his past and the wrenching truth about Oleg and himself.

Phantom was shortlisted for the 2012 CWA International Dagger.

“I’ve just finished the latest Jo Nesbo thriller Phantom; I love the series of Harry Hole thrillers.”
—Roger Moore

Buy the Book
Barnes & Noble

Jo speaks about Phantom

Book trailer from Jo’s publisher in the US, Knopf

Book trailer from Jo’s Swedish publisher, Piratförlaget

Book trailer from Jo’s publisher in the UK, Harvill Secker

Book trailer from Jo’s German publisher, Ullstein

“The most realistic novel in this series . . . it may also be the darkest. . . . Although the novel’s villains can’t hold a candle to Nesbø’s typical psychos, they’re much closer to the ones you might meet in the real world.”
The New York Times Book Review (US)

“While Hole is indisputably the dominant force, Phantom features a second character that adds a surprising depth to the novel—and that is Oslo itself.” The Boston Globe (US)

“Intricate, breakneck plotting make for an addictive page-turner in Phantom, the latest in the Harry Hole detective series by Jo Nesbo.”
Los Angeles Times (US)

Phantom is one of the finest suspense novels to come out of Scandinavia to date.”
BookPage (US)

“One of this great crime writer’s best. . . . Not to be missed.”
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“Phantom is a gritty, pared-back thriller.”
Esquire (US)

“A cunningly constructed thriller with a lot of moving parts, and once [Nesbø] sets the machinery in motion, the pace accelerates. . . . at Hollywood summer blockbuster speed.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch (US)

“Whether you are already a fan of Harry Hole, or just getting to know him, the gripping suspense and fast-paced action that fills Phantom will keep you reading until dawn.” (US)

*starred review*
“Nesbø begins with an emotionally gripping family drama but surrounds it with an elaborate, beautifully constructed plot involving [a] new drug and the ruthless man who rules its distribution. The subplots, plot twists (especially the last one), and the fully fleshed supporting characters—many of whom could drive their own novels—are all testament to Nesbø’s remarkable talent, but finally, it all comes back to Harry and the pain he endures in trying to carve out a separate peace from a world and a past that won’t let him go. Superb on every level.”
Booklist (US)

*starred review*
“Deeply moving . . . This is Harry’s most personal case, and yet Nesbø never allows Harry’s paternal feelings for Oleg cloud his need for truth, however costly that pursuit may be.”
Publishers Weekly (US)

“Norwegian crime fiction writer Nesbø is one of the best . . . Oslo’s gritty and violent drug world is brought to life through the characters. The fast-paced plots are twisted and riveting, and the two stories collide to reveal a shocking climax. Nesbø is on par with the original Scandinavian duo Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, authors of the Martin Beck series.”
Library Journal (US)

*starred review*
“The Nesbø phenomenon has transcended “next Stieg Larsson” status. In practically every comparison except books sold (and, with millions to date, Nesbø’s catching up), he’s superior to his late Swedish counterpart: more imaginative, better plotting, richer characters, stronger narrative momentum, more psychological and philosophical depth. … [Phantom is] one of the most cleanly plotted novels in the series … Where earlier novels provide a better introduction to [Harry] Hole, this one best takes the full measure of the man.”
Kirkus Reviews (US)

[Phantom] is personal and topical and hip, as usual. … Mr. Nesbo, who knows his hometown of Oslo from the inside, also knows how to build tension both in his fiction and in our expectations … Phantom is far more than a procedural … Mr. Nesbo’s storytelling from inside Gusto’s head, presented in italics as if it were a dream, is something fresh for a Harry Hole novel. It’s dramatically effective, casting a kind of spell even as it develops scaffolding for the increasingly serpentine plot. … Phantom bristles with violent scenes, an unusual form of torture involving a brick, nails and an ear, evocations of Oslo’s atmosphere so vivid they put you there, and even romance. In addition to being a mystery, Phantom is a love story; Mr. Nesbo, like fellow Scandinavian noir auteurs Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell, characterizes women with affection and understanding, and his keen depiction of Rakel, though minimalist, explains Harry’s love for her.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (US)

“An ace in the Hole … Phantom is [Jo Nesbø's] most realistic and most affecting. The villains – and there are quite a few – are people you might meet on the street or who even live next door, making Phantom even more chilling. … Phantom, released last month, delivers an unnerving view of the far-reaching drug trade and the market for synthetics, which might be even more dangerous.”
The Columbus Dispatch (US)

“Perhaps it was unrealistic to expect Nesbo to reach the dizzying heights of his two previous books, The Snowman and The Leopard. How wrong I was. Phantom is arguably a much better book than any previous instalments. Nesbo wrings out the tension, by turns painful and delicious, with consummate skill. The surprises come like an avalanche as the end nears, engulfing everything in its path, including Harry Hole. The final mystery will be what is left standing in its aftermath.”
Daily Express (UK)

“Harry Hole is fast becoming one of the planet’s favorite detectives. And his demons are almost as legendary as his observational and analytical skills. [This is] Harry’s most lethally gripping and personal journey to date.”
The Mirror (UK)

“[Phantom] is expertly plotted and structured, with all the requisite twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. The latter half of the book is also relentlessly paced, reading at times like a Scandinavian police version of the Jason Bourne series.”
Doug Johnston, The Independent (UK)

“Nesbo, as ever, is not interested in painting a tourist-friendly view of his country. He banishes cliché in this overworked genre – his recovering-alcoholic, shambolic, rule-breaking detective is somehow always surprising us. … The relationship between Harry and Rakel is truly multifaceted, and richer in nuance than anything else in the crime genre. Phantom will maintain Jo Nesbo’s unstoppable momentum.”
Barry Forshaw, The Independent (UK)

Phantom is a tragedy in several ways yet it doesn’t drip with typical Scandi gloom. What’s more, and what’s more important, is that it is a first-class thriller — Harry is in constant jeopardy — and the complex plot — peopled by carefully delineated characters not puppets — contains several twists some of which will make you gasp and at least one of which will make you cry. There is no shortage of special claims for crime novels that escape the straitjacket of genre. The consolations of genre are not to be underestimated but Phantom is Nesbø’s finest novel, a novel for grown-ups, which triumphantly proves, as Harry says, that “humans are a perverted and damaged species and there is no cure, only relief “.”
Evening Standard (UK)

“Harry Hole is back, a detective in the classic hard-boiled mode, world weary, flawed, but with a passion for justice. Harry is also Norwegian, and his creator, Jo Nesbo, stakes a claim to being the best crime writer to emerge from Scandinavia. The comparisons are with Henning Mankel and Wallander rather than Stieg Larsson /…/ Another winner for Nesbo.”
The Independent (Ireland)

“Truly fascinating… One can almost hear the western soundtrack when [Harry] clinks his spurs and steps into the saloon… Nesbø’s novels about Harry Hole are earnest action stories in straightforward prose, but they contain a great deal beyond the plot itself.”
Dagens Nyheter (Sweden)

”Just as dark, just as well-written and just as dreadfully suspenseful as the previous novels in the series”
Värmlands Folkblad (Sweden)

“Fantastic … The pace is high and the violence plentiful, and Jo Nesbø does what he is so impressively good at – mixing action with a powerful depiction of a frightening big-city reality that is both engaging and upsetting.”
Norra Skåne (Sweden)

“Fast-paced, entertaining and frightening. Moreover, [Nesbø] is good at dialogue, characterization and unpredictable endings.”
Dagbladet (Sweden)

“As always, Nesbø writes gruesomely effective /…/ This is a crime novel without any dead spots, cleverly constructed with a constantly fascinating story”
Göteborgs-Posten (Sweden)

“Clever and suspenseful…full of twists, turns and impressive stylistic devices.”
Sundsvalls Tidning (Sweden)

“Once again Nesbø demonstrates that he is a crime writer of absolute world class /…/ It is an amazing achievement for a crime writer to put as much effort into the characters as the plot. And it is never trivial. Even the love scenes are believable (and they seldom are in literature). /…/ You will understand what I mean when you read Phantom. And please do, this is a masterpiece of the genre. Jo Nesbø just gets better and better.”
Västerbottens Folkblad (Sweden)

“The return of the Master /…/ I have always praised Nesbø’s books and Phantom offers no reason to revise the notion that Jo Nesbø is one of the most skillful in his genre. He also manages to avoid the phenomenon of writing more and more desperately and deficient the larger the readership gets. /…/ When 2012 comes to an end, Phantom will appear on every Best Of Crime list. The only concern I have when I put the book down is that there will be no more Harry Hole. In this, the ninth novel in the series, the circle is closed with the crystal clear drama that makes Jo Nesbø a Master”
Kristianstabladet (Sweden)

“Jo Nesbø has never before had a better command of his material and told his story with such a confident sense of style. One takes pleasure in sarcastically hard-boiled phrases that could not have been delivered any better by Hammett or Chandler over there on the mean streets of California. The crime plot provides one delightfully nail-biting twist and turn after another.”
Jyllands-Posten (Denmark)

“Harry Hole returns in one of the best crime novels of our times. /…/ [Nesbø is] Scandinavia’s greatest plot and intrigue maker, the most intelligent and well researched crime writer.”
Politiken (Denmark)

“Yet another excellent crime novel where hope for the best and despair for the worst fight until the very last page /…/ A volcano of human drama, spanning from the sweetest to the foulest feelings”
Ekstra Bladet *6 stars* (Denmark)

Phantom must be the crime novel of the year. There is no one better or even equal to Jo Nesbø in Scandinavian crime fiction. /…/ You are pulled into to the most raw, unsettling and tragic situations – it hurts to read Nesbø, that’s just the way it is. It is written in a minor key and it ends in a minor key and leaves no hope for the future. Or does it, Jo Nesbø? Please!”
Weekendavisen (Denmark)

“Nesbø is one of the best suspense writers in the world and this novel fully confirms that claim. The novel is suspenseful, moving, well written and impossible to put down. /…/ I just can’t recommend this enough.” (Denmark)

“Jo Nesbø is a master of his craft. His latest novel, Phantom, is world-class crime writing. /…/ Phantom is a crime novel that pleases on every level…”
Dagbladet (Norway)
“Harry Hole, better than ever.”
Dagsavisen (Norway)

“With a steady hand, Jo Nesbø deftly ties together the different narratives, steering the novel towards its goal with great precision.”
VG (Norway)

“The latest novel about Harry Hole, Phantom, is probably the best in the series…”
Dagens Næringsliv (Norway)

“I’m happy to announce that all expectations are met. /…/ What’s most salient is Jo Nesbø’s intense, eloquent yet terse prose. The same goes for his talent as a story teller, as well as his eye for narrative construction.”
NRK (Norway)

“Jo Nesbø has driven Harry Hole’s gloomy love story all the way into the dark. It is masterfully done.”
Vårt Land (Norway)