Character Profile


Harry Hole is a genuine anti-hero: an impossible character, yet impossible not to like.

According to his superiors, Harry is both Oslo Crime Squad’s most brilliant detective, and its most frustrating. He struggles with authority, especially when bureaucracy prevents him from doing what’s right for the people of Oslo and the victims who suffer at the hands of violent criminals. Harry is nevertheless revered by his colleagues, not only for his deductive powers and uncanny ability to think like the killer he’s hunting, but because his high moral standards and pronounced sense of justice often lead him in the right direction.

In his personal life, things are just as complicated. Harry is conflicted by his relationship with Rakel, the single mother whom he fell in love with and who has since walked into and out of his life at irregular intervals owing to Harry’s workaholic tendencies. Harry has also developed a close relationship with Rakel’s son Oleg, to whom he has become a strong father figure. Like Harry’s little sister Sis, Oleg brings light to Harry’s existence – and life, at times, really does seem to come together for Inspector Hole.

But a case always comes in to turn everything upside down.


Harry Hole’s Police File

Personal Details

Harry Hole was born in Oppsal, Oslo. His parents were teachers and he grew up with his little sister, Sis. His mother died when he was very young. His most significant romantic relationship is with Rakel, whom he met when she was working for the Secret Service. He is very close to Rakel’s son, Oleg. Harry’s closest friends are a taxi driver called Oystein Eikeland he’s known since childhood and the police psychologist Ståle Aune. He has a phobia of lifts and only seven numbers in his mobile phone contacts. His favourite café is Schrøder’s in Oslo and his favourite drink is Jim Beam.



6 ft 3 in. Lean, athletic build. Short blond hair. Blue eyes.



Graduated from Police College and Law School, grades marginally above average. Special investigator for Crime Squad in Oslo. One-year course with FBI in Chicago, specialising in serial killers. Short stint with the Norwegian Secret Service before returning to Crime Squad.

Described by Head of Crime Squad as the best investigator in the department and the worst public servant: Harry’s anti-authority, anti-sobriety, anti-rules-of-the-game attitude makes him a danger to himself and those around him.



Music: Likes everything from Sex Pistols to Duke Ellington, from Neil Young to Slipknot.

Film: His all-time favourite is Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation. Considers Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers a masterpiece.

Substance abuse: Alcoholism runs in the family. Started drinking heavily in his late teens, has tried most types of drugs. Views them as anaesthetics. Dry and sober most of the time, but with a furious and constant urge.


Ambitions and future plans

Ambition: To understand what evil is. And what love is.

Future plans: The near future looks dismal. After that it gets darker. And then it all goes to hell…


Listen to extracts from all the novels in Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series