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Phantom by Jo Nesbo

Those who follow this blog know I am a fan of Jo Nesbo, the Norwegian who is the top international best seller writer.  He is billed as a musician, songwriter, economist and author and he lives in Oslo.

His protagonist is Harry Hole, a former police detective with the Oslo Police Department.  Following the second in Nesbo’s trilogy about Hole the injured and weary detective resigned from the police force and moved to Hong Kong where he worked for a collection service and eventually go himself clean from alcohol and drug additions.  When his former lover, Rakal, alerts him that her son, Oleg, has been taken in on a charge of having murdered his best friend and fellow drug dealer, Gusto, Harry comes back to Oslo to work on the case, and that is the subject of the third in the Harry Hole trilogy, “Phantom.” With the assistance of his former partner, Beate Lonn, and Oleg’s attorney, Hans Christian, Harry works hard to prove Oleg’s innocence and in the process exposes a secretive drug lord and a cover-up that reaches high within the ranks of the Oslo Police Department.  Is Harry making a colossal mistake by believing the boy’s innocence?  All Harry seems to be able to focus on is finding a happy ending with Rakal promising to marry him and move to Hong Kong with him.  They are hopeful that Oleg can join them eventually.  Will Harry’s happy ending come true? Seems unlikely for such a hard-bitten anti-hero who has seen and experienced his share of tragedy over the years.

As in his previous Harry Hole novels, Nesbo delivers a compelling and complex tale full of twists and turns that will leave the ready feeling like they are on a perpetual roller coaster ride.  In the end a lot of people have died, and yet nothing has really changed.  Addicts still crave drugs (the one in question in this book is a new synthetic drug called “violin”) and will go to any lengths to get their fix.  High level officials remain on the take to see that nothing really changes to stop the relentless inflow of drugs to countries like Norway.

The way “Phantom”  is written it is probably the last of the Harry Hole mysteries, but who knows? Harry may rise from the ashes like a phoenix and be back for another round.  I hope so!

Liz Nichols


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