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Phantom: A Harry Hole Thriller Paperback – 2012
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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.
*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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
Rakel has enlisted the help of an attorney, Hans Christian, to get Oleg cleared of the charge. Rakel and Hans Chrisitian also have a growing relationship; isn’t it nice to have a lawyer in the family?
Jo Nesbo shows us the worst of Oslo in this book ranging from various kinds of drug addicts, corrupt politicians and police officials, and outsiders who are controlling the drug activity with their eyes on huge payoffs. The kingpin in the drug trade is someone who almost never appears, hence the title of the book, and carries the mystery name of Dubai.
Nesbo’s writing is at his usual high caliber but there is one technique that I didn’t care much for. We get Gusto’s back story but it’s told with interspersed chapters that are printed in italics, bouncing us back in forth in time.
The excitement and tension starting mounting in about the middle of the book as Harry takes more risks in trying to get Oleg free from both prison and narcotics. The ending is full of unexpected twists and violent acts but it left me slightly confused. I’m not sure whether Nesbo meant all this to be a setup for a sequel; guess I’ll have to wait and read the next Harry Hole novel to find out.
The quote continues, "...you order the most expensive thing on the menu...if you're lucky you get a mouthful." Go ahead, interpret it. It's classic Nesbo.
Jo Nesbo is probably Europe's most brilliant living author. Watch the interview with Charlie Rose on PBS (google it) to see and hear Nesbo one-on-one. You'll be impressed.
The story is all about drugs, the drug scene in Oslo, the impossibility of stopping it, and the cruel and ugly underworld it is, creating, at least at one time, the reputation of Oslo being Europe's drug capital. Descriptions, dialogue, dilemmas are all realistic -- scary-realistic.
The end and resolution of the murder mystery is a big and unexpected shock. It's a testimony to Nesbo's skill that the reader (me anyway) is taken completely by surprise.
As a reader, you do have to suspend disbelief a few times, as Harry and others become involved in death-defying predicaments, somehow or other escaping to live another day. Police corruption, unconscionable drug lords and mother-dad-son pathos fill the pages.
It's a clear winner and a 5.