Following from Jo Nesbø's electrifying international best sellers The Snowman and The Leopard, now comes Phantom, which plunges the brilliant, deeply troubled, now former police officer Harry Hole into a full-tilt investigation on which his own tenuous future will come to depend.
When Harry left Oslo again for Hong Kong - fleeing the traumas of life as a cop - he thought he was there for good. But then the unthinkable happened. The son of the woman he loved, lost, and still loves is arrested for murder: Oleg, the boy Harry helped raise but couldn't help deserting when he fled. Harry has come back to prove that Oleg is not a killer. Barred from rejoining the police force, he sets out on a solitary, increasingly dangerous investigation that takes him deep into the world of the most virulent drug to ever hit the streets of Oslo (and the careers of some of the city's highest officials), and into the maze of his own past, where he will find the wrenching truth that finally matters to Oleg, and to himself.
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Jo Nesbo hates Harry Hole
What has happened to our "hero" Harry Hole? Never a matinee idol, a current description of Harry is starting to sound like an introduction to a monster. A towering 6'4"' Harry's face now has more scars than a plastic surgery ward.
And when I first started listening in on the Hole saga, there was humorous cultural commentary woven throughout the unfolding story. Lately following Harry is a dark, sometimes tedious, journey into the worst of human nature with no comic relief.
Harry is constantly physically attacked, piling on more scar tissue as he goes. You can just imagine Nesbo wreaking his revenge on his signature character and defining a love - hate relationship.
And at the end of this book, you may wonder if we have seen the last of our old pal Harry. Certainly, it seems, any chance he ever had of personal happiness is doomed. I don't know if I will tune into his next chapter.
Jo Nesbo, lighten up and show your guy Harry a little love!
- Fran Murphy "frannim"
The best just keeps getting better
If you are a lover of the crime/mystery genre, there is no better author at work today. Do yourself a favor and start at the beginning, you will better appreciate both the character of Harry Hole, but fascinate in the completeness of each book and the Nesbo's crafting plots that don't just "add on" but actually create a greater depth and complexity without forcing it in any way.
I can only compare this work to the other Scandinavian genius, Stieg Larsson. As different as they are in their flawed characters, Lizbeth Salander and Harry Hole are both so engaging and tragic in their pursuit of an ideal as they battle their demons.
Listening to Robin Sachs become Harry is like watching Alec Guinness become George Smiley. He so embodies Hole's fatalistic and tortured search for the truth and justice with the tone and pace of his narration, that the need for accents or voice modulations become superfluous. Very few readers can get away with this, as differentiating characters without them is an art. Sachs is one of those narrators I will seek out, despite the mediocrity of some for whom he applies his craft.
The ending is transcendent. It could not have been anticipated and without giving anything away, it is proof again of Nesbo's genius and refusal to take the safe route. And there is just enough ambiguity to keep the devoted hopeful of more to come.
I have read, rather listened, to virtually every Euro/crime novelist. The classic and contemporary Brits and all the "young turk" Scandies. The only exceptions being some good writers that some publishers have shackled with unlistenable narrators. This pairing of Nesbo and Sachs is the polar opposite. Great narration of great writing creates nearly flawless storytelling. I envy those of you who haven't discovered Jo Nesbo. Hopefully it won't take Scorcese's adaptation to make you a believer.