21 April 2012

Review: PHANTOM, Jo Nesbo

  • Published by Harvill Secker 2012
  • translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett
  • ISBN 978-1-846-55521-3
  • 452 pages
  • source: Library book
Synopsis (Random House Australia)

Summer. A boy is lying on the floor of an Oslo apartment. He is bleeding and will soon die. In order to place his life and death in some kind of context he begins to tell his story. Outside, the church bells toll. Autumn.
Former police inspector Harry Hole returns to Oslo after three years abroad. He seeks out his old boss at Police Headquarters to request permission to investigate a homicide. But the case is already closed: the young junkie was in all likelihood shot dead by a fellow addict. Yet, Harry is granted permission to visit the boy's alleged killer in jail. There, he meets himself and his own history.
What follows is the solitary investigation of what appears to be the first impossible case in Harry Hole's career. And while Harry is searching, the murdered boy continues his story. A man walks the dark streets of Oslo. The streets are his and he has always been there. He is a Phantom.

My take

An interestingly structured, but very noir book, with the dominant narrator a boy who is already dead. And a rat with a problem.

Harry Hole is a very changed person physically, with a titanium finger to replace one lost in THE SNOWMAN, and a dreadful scar on one side of his face. He has returned to Oslo because of a newspaper report he read and a suspicion about the identity of the perpetrator of a murder. When he tries to get a job in the police he is told the case he wants is already solved and so he goes it alone, calling in favours, going right to the top, and uncovering a drugs network to top them all.

Inevitably he contacts Rakel, the love of his life, but he also realises there is no going back, there is only the future. But do they really have one? Not in Norway it seems.

I struggled to get into this book and then to bring all the strands together. I'm still not sure that I have the definitive grip on who did what and why. It seemed to me to be bleaker and darker, if that is possible, than earlier novels.

My rating: 4.7

Other reviews of PHANTOM to check
Other reviews on MiP of Jo Nesbo novels


Irene said...

I'm not sure about such dark books, sometimes we need a feel good mystery. but, thanks for your interview.

Uriah Robinson said...

"Bleaker and darker" Oh I only read the end of your review Kerrie as I have a copy to read and wanted to see your rating. Perhaps I had better wait until my mood lightens for this one.

Kerrie said...

Don't let me put you off folks. PHANTOM is a ~must~ read.

Dorte H said...

It sounds good, but I have not even got round to The Leopard yet. It is on my TBR, though.

Maxine Clarke said...

Somehow, Nesbo is a must-read despite any personal dislikes (schlock-horror sections) or any flaws in the plots. He's compelling.

Susan said...

I just read The Leopard, which I really enjoyed (have yet to review), and I keep picking this up in the store, and then putting it down again, because my birthday is around the corner (less than a month away now!) and I think I want it for my birthday.

The novels are dark, I find, though so very well done, and the characters are so realistic that it's like a glimpse into a real world, isn't it? Harry himself is fascinating, how he rises and falls, and how he is trying. Yes, I think its' time I reviewed The Leopard! lol


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