Published: October 2, 2012
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.
Loved this book, just wish I had read the series in order. Here are the highlights:
- Harry Hole has returned to his life of self-imposed exile in Hong Kong, but is brought back to Norway as the book begins as he is told that Oleg, the son of his on-off girlfriend, Rakel Fauke, has been arrested for the murder of his flatmate, Gusto. Since Harry has become a father figure to Oleg, he comes to Norway to determine the truth about the murder.
- An airline pilot is arrested for transporting heroin into Norway, but – thanks to a burner within the Oslo Police Force, he is released and – although suspended from his job – is tasked by the heroin smuggling gang to work for them.
- Harry meets an elderly priest at the hotel where he stays who, throughout the novel, gives Harry seemingly random information that ultimately aids him in solving the murder of Gusto. He also discovers that the drug-scene in Oslo no longer revolves around heroin, but around a morphine-based drug called Violin, which gives a bigger drug “high” and is much more addictive, but lacks some of the fatal consequences involved with the injection of heroin.
- Harry manages to sneak into Oleg’s cell, pretending to be his lawyer, a man called Hans Christian, who is dating Oleg’s mother. After hearing Oleg’s side of the story he is convinced that the police have the wrong suspect and that Oleg has been arrested to keep the people who run the Violin trade going from being arrested. This theory is confirmed when Oleg is attacked in his cell moments after Harry has left.
- Throughout the novel, the back-story, told from the point of view of a dying Gusto, explains how Oleg, Gusto and Gusto’s foster-sister, Irene, got involved in the Violin trade and how Irene has been kidnapped by the man who developed Violin to use as a sex slave. There are also passages written from the point of view of a mother rat, who is barred from reaching her hungry children by humans fighting and shooting each other and a falling body blocking her way; the significance of the rat’s experience in the main story told from the human point of view only becomes evident in the end.
- Harry manages to find where Irene is being kept and free her, and then heads to a house where he has found out that the mysterious man behind the smuggling and dealing ring (a man no-one confirms having met) lives. He kills two bodyguards, but is trapped in the cellar of the house, which fills with water. However using an empty whisky bottle as an air pocket, Harry is able to escape drowning – the alcoholism which had often complicated Harry’s life in this case helping to save them.
- An object in the drug lord’s house gives Harry a hint about the drug lord’s identity, and he realizes that he unknowingly met him already. He confronts the man in a life-and-death struggle which also involved a paradoxical grudging respect and mutual attraction. The encounter also enables Harry to discover who had killed Gusto, and how he was related to the drug lord. Harry then confronts Gusto’s killer. But before he can be taken in, he fires his gun at Harry apparently fatally.
- Careful reading of the final part of the novel shows that the mother rat who appears elsewhere in the novel could sense ‘the barely perceptible vibrations’ of Harry’s heart. There are major loose ends – though the drug lord is dead, a corrupt and criminal officer is about to take command of the Oslo Police with the connivance of a corrupt city official – so Harry may survive to deal with them.
I will not tell you who killed the drug addict at the beginning of the book but let’s just say it broke my heart and because I have already read/listened to the next book (and maybe the last book) in the series, I know that Harry is NOT dead Hallelujah!!!!!!!
Five stars *****