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Phantom Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 2, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307960471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307960474
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (576 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: An Essay by Jo Nesbø on Harry Hole

It is not easy to summarize the protagonist of the series in a few words, but here are some features of Harry’s personality that are important to me when I write about him: he’s the type of guy who is driven by his good side as well as his darker side. At times he believes in his role as law enforcer, at other times he doesn’t. And occasionally he is so gripped by his emotions that they overwhelm his basic belief in the principles of a state governed by law. He hunts down criminals with such an intense hatred and finds revenge so hard to resist that at times he could be mistaken for the antagonists he is fighting. But at the same time he can feel empathy for, perhaps even a kinship with, the lawbreaker. Harry Hole is a hero with pronounced weaknesses. All interesting heroes have an Achilles heel, and in Harry’s case, it is alcohol.

Harry feels something akin to what the serial killer feels, the same tension and excitement, when he approaches a victim and the same anti-climax after the killer is caught. It is Harry’s ambition to understand both love and evil. He is a passionate guy in all ways. And he is the type of man who has difficulties controlling his impulses. The fact that he cannot set limits permeates his drinking habits and his attitude to his job. He takes on cases and is swallowed up by them. It is the same with his relationships with women. I could have chosen to make Harry and Rakel live happily ever after and have children, but then we have a completely different person. I like the fact that he is in transit in his own life, as far as his emotions and his job are concerned. I'm often asked how much Harry and I have in common. I won't answer that in detail, but when you make a person a hero, as a writer you are bound to have at least a basic set of values, a goal, a need or a longing that you can relate to.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In the Booklist review of Nesbø’s The Leopard (2011), we called Oslo police detective Harry Hole “a good man undone by a bad world and a too-sensitive soul.” How right we were—except, perhaps, that we neglected to say that his undoing also has a lot to do with his inability (and unwillingness) to escape his past. This time Harry, no longer a cop, returns to Oslo from his new home in Hong Kong, once again summoned by trouble in the family. In The Leopard, it was his father; now it’s Oleg, the son of Rakel, the love of Harry’s life. Ironically, Rakel left Harry to protect her son from the horrors of Harry’s world, and now those same horrors have found the boy, even in Harry’s absence. First it was drugs, in the form of violin, a new wonder drug that protects the user from a deadly ovedose but is far more addictive than heroin; now Oleg is in jail, accused of killing a fellow addict. The evidence looks rock solid, but Rakel knows that if anyone can prove her boy is not a killer, it’s Harry. Nesbø begins with this emotionally gripping family drama but surrounds it with an elaborate, beautifully constructed plot involving the 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. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: All those Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson fans have jumped on the Nesbo bandwagon. A far-reaching publicity campaign and a 150,000 first printing will make sure they stay there. --Bill Ott

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

181 of 197 people found the following review helpful By T. Edmund on February 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
Aside a nagging suspicion that the title 'Phantom' looses some of its meaning in translation (the actual story isn't particularly Phantomesque) this is definitely one of the more bad-ass titles around.

I'm not familiar with earlier Harry Hole works, however Nesbo pens such a brilliant character I was just as attached as a die hard fan. Phantom is also free of annoying information dumps, Harry's past is explained seamlessly through the ongoing plot.

The story revolves around the death of a 'Gusto' a local junkie that the cops don't care much for, but was friends with Harry's son (cue personal vendetta, against the entire drug trade of Olso City)

Nesbo adopts an interesting P.O.V. and gives us Gusto's dying thoughts, along with Harry's real-time investigation and interestingly I found Gusto's brutal narrative one of the more compelling aspects of the story. Nesbo also skilfully dances around with the 3rd person perspective creating a dynamic narrative, where many authors would have only made a clumsy mess.

Twists abound in this gritty, painful tale, so hold onto something as you chew your nails off experiencing one of must-read thrillers of 2012!
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful By CLBrown on March 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
When I first started reading this latest Harry Hole novel, my hopes sank a little. It's about a new drug (called violin, a bit sad for me as I play the violin), drug smuggling, and the control of drugs in Oslo. I've never been one for stories on drugs and drug rings, (exception claimed for the tv show Breaking Bad), it's just something I'm really not interested in. But as Nesbo's brilliant writing kicked in and the plot took form I was hooked and couldn't put it down. As the story develops it becomes so much more - about family, relationships, morals and ethics, life and death. Nesbo is so skilled at laying clues and plot footholds as the novel progresses they don't even register. His ability to investigate the motives of the litany of characters drives the complex plot with its twists and turns, which leaves you puzzled, guessing (mostly wrongly) and breathless - and absolutely stunned at the climax.

As for the story itself, I don't won't to give away too many spoilers so will only say that Harry flies back into Oslo for the only reason that would bring him back, someone he loves is in trouble, and that's Oleg, who is now 18. It's a great relief to see Harry sober, although still fighting his demons, so that he can sort out the huge mess Oleg has gotten himself into. Poor Harry is put through the wringer again, but at least he and Rakel get to rekindle their romance whilst Rakel's boyfriend obligingly cools his heels.

Harry books into the Hotel Leon, where an old retired vagrant of a pastor is living in the room next door, who likes nothing more than to chew his arm off and take his cigarettes. A murdered teenager tells us his story as he lays dying, and slowly most of the pieces of what has happened come together.
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81 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
Jo Nesbo's Phantom continues the adventures of rogue Norwegian policeman Harry Hole.

Returning from Bangkok to Norway, Hole is intent on proving that Oleg, the son of his former girlfriend, Rakel, is not guilty of the murder with which he's being charged. As usual, the plot involves corrupt policemen, underworld Mr Bigs, and a twisty, turny plot that Nesbo uses to manipulate our sympathies.

Translated from Norwegian by the author's usual translator, the prose has its typical clunky effect. The problem with translating - I speak from a little experience - is that when you come across a phrase in the original that, when translated into English, seems a little odd, it's often difficult to know whether that was the author's intention or not. So for example:

"But when he went back to the front door the boy had hopped it."

The phrase 'hopped it' reeks of the 1950s, and is given to us as representing the thought of a policeman in 2011. Does Nesbo want this slightly dated turn of phrase to represent this policeman? Or is it an attempt by the translator to be a bit casual and different, rather than using a simple expression like 'run off' or even 'legged it'? If nothing else, if I were Nesbo, I'd wonder whether my American readers would understand this very British usage ...

As in most of his previous books, Nesbo's tactic in Phantom is to set several hares running and organize the plot so that they all arrive at the finishing line together. So here we follow Harry's story as he investigates the crime, but we are also given the first-person narration of the person who was murdered - Gusto, a young drug-dealer and junkie.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Maine Colonial TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
After the horror of the serial murders in The Snowman and The Leopard, Harry Hole leaves Oslo for Hong Kong, with no intent to return. But, three years later, he's back. Not because of another serial killer, but for more personal reasons.

When Harry arrives, everything in Oslo seems old and new at the same time. Oslo is a city with a serious drug problem. That's not new. What is new is the highly addictive drug called "violin." It's playing so many of the city's young people, including Oleg, the son of Harry's former lover, Rakel.

Oleg's friend, Gusto, has been murdered and Harry investigates--even though he's no longer in the police force and some of his old colleagues are more than a little bit hostile to him. In alternating stories, we read about Harry's investigation and the events leading to Gusto's murder. Although Harry and Rakel agreed many years before that it was too dangerous for Rakel and Oleg to have Harry to be in their lives, Harry still feels like Oleg's father and will do anything to help him.

Gusto's story is told in his own voice, speaking to his long-gone biological father. Nobody ever had anything good to say about Gusto's father, and Gusto is a sociopath, but the one person in the world Gusto feels compelled to prove himself to is his absent father. As Oleg asks Harry: "Don't all boys see their fathers as heroes?"

The Phantom is a return to form for the Harry Hole series after the digressions into long, convoluted serial killer stories in The Snowman and The Leopard. The Phantom is also (almost) free from the gruesome and extended torture descriptions and ridiculously unlikely escape sequences that marred those books, especially The Leopard. That doesn't mean that The Phantom is any walk in the park, though.
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