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162 of 174 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harry's last stand?
I have read all the Harry Hole novels in order several times, and I eagerly awaited this instalment. Unlike many, I enjoyed the Leopard, even if at times it did feel over long.
Phantom is just the right length, and continues three years after the end of the Leopard, as Harry steps off the plane from Hong Kong, this time in an expensive suit, no sign of the trademark...
Published on 23 Mar 2012 by Keith Douglas

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and far too gruesome for me.
I'd read, and really enjoyed, The Redbreast and The Snowman so I fully expected to get as much enjoyment from Phantom. Sadly I found that Harry's character wasan't particularly interesting or engaging in this book and the drugs related plot was much too gory and convoluted, to the point that I lost track of who was selling to whom. It's made me wary of downloading other...
Published 8 months ago by Babs


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162 of 174 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harry's last stand?, 23 Mar 2012
By 
Keith Douglas (Wales,UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Phantom: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 7) (Kindle Edition)
I have read all the Harry Hole novels in order several times, and I eagerly awaited this instalment. Unlike many, I enjoyed the Leopard, even if at times it did feel over long.
Phantom is just the right length, and continues three years after the end of the Leopard, as Harry steps off the plane from Hong Kong, this time in an expensive suit, no sign of the trademark Doc Martens and Diesel jeans.
He is back to investigate the death of a junkie, the man accused of his death being Harry's surrogate son Oleg.
No longer a policeman, Harry does not know who he can trust, and many of the characters we have come to know from previous novels turn up along the way, CSI chief Beate, Gunnar Hagen, Bellman, Beavis and of course Rakel, Oleg's mother and the love of Harry's life.
The plot unfolds through the seamier side of Oslo, and we meet the drug dealers, pushers and prostitutes, this is not a tour of Oslo for the tourist.
Poor Harry, having been scarred for life in the Leopard, he has to undergo all manner of physical and mental battering in this one.
Some of his escapes from death do stretch credibility a bit, he is after all meant to be a chain smoker, alcoholic and opium user in his mid forties, but this did not detract anything from this stunning book for me.
The final third is a complete roller coaster, with so many twists and turns, that I read it in one chunk, and I was completely stunned by the ending.
I cannot recommend Phantom too highly, but I do recommend you read all the Harry Hole novels in order, plot and characters will be easier to understand.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent read, and not just if you are keen on rats, 21 July 2013
By 
Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
One great thing about reviewing a Harry Hole novel is that there is no need to try to summarise the fantastically complex plot, sub-plots and sub-sub-plots. Suffice it to say that this 9th novel begins with Hole arriving back in Oslo after having lived in Hong Kong after the emotionally-draining end of the last book, Snowman. However, this is no holiday trip and we quickly find out that the ex-detective is still very troubled and beset by demons, but now has a 'matt greyish-blue, titanium prosthesis' (p21 if you want to know where).

The opening is unique in that it is "dictated" by a mother rat who returns at the beginning of each of the novel's 5 parts to update us on her search for food for her young (hint: she is not a vegetarian). There is also a murdered drug addict who describes how he ended up dead and a drug addict. Personally, I do not like these statements from beyond the grave which seem to becoming more and more common. However, here it gave a very effective alternate perspective from Hole's sleuthing.

The story is involved, extremely well-plotted and full of really deceptive twists and turns. It is also a very moral novel, which may seems strange for a book that finds new ways to kill and for an author who finds ever more bloody prose to describe the entry of a Russian flick knife into a carotid artery and its consequences. However, I do think that it could have been reduced by 50 or more pages, which would have made it even more of a page turner. I read the second half at a sitting and now I understand what a critic means by "unputdownable".

Since Hole is no longer a policeman, his contacts with his ex-colleagues, notably with Beate Lonn, are infrequent and mainly by telephone or e-mail. Fortunately, he can still sent samples, via Lonn, to the forensic scientists for analysis and gain information about what is going on in the various investigations with he is concerned with. This means that Hole is very much at the centre of this book, surrounded by a diverse group of criminals, including some buried deeply within the ranks of the police themselves.

Hole also makes contact again with his ex-lover, Rakel, and her son, Oleg, although the latter is by no means easy for him.

Drug addiction, trans-national smuggling, gangs and corruption are all dealt with the authors staggering research and attention to detail and, given that this is a Nordic thriller, their social, economic and political contexts are to the fore. The eponymous Phantom is a Russian criminal, known only as 'Dubai', because his sellers wear Arsenal shirts with their Emirates logos, who is at the heart of the escalating drug problems facing Oslo. His plan revolves around a synthetic drug, "violin", so-called because it fills its users, including Hole, 'with heavenly light rather than heavenly music', whose flow into the marketplace he is able to control. I was surprised how easy it was to identify 'Dubai', largely because he was the only character left who fitted the criteria. However, there are many more mysteries to resolve. Nesbo has the courage to kill off characters early on that he has apparently put at the centre of main stories.

As a chemist I was delighted to see, once again, how much money could be made by members of my profession but saddened that I had ventured no further that food chemistry.

Hole is a wonderfully damaged central character smoking himself to death, treating any illness with painkillers and even sewing up his own wounds. The phrase "bull in a china shop" might have been coined for Nesbo's hero.

As Hole spends time in Oslo he finds the changes that have occurred in his absence not all to his liking, even the the urban renewal and gentrification that is replacing parts of the city previously lost to drug addicts, and the expensive mansions they are populated by individuals whose money has often come from ill-gotten activities. One such, a tall wannerbe-politician who like to ride (men and horses) and breed (horses), brings Hole to the brink of disaster before his grandfather's genes manage to save him.

Through Hole, the author writes about challenging authority to secure the truth and restore a correct moral balance to the world. This is never more evident, and touching, than at the end of this very impressive novel.

The book is well translated by Don Bartlett, whilst some of Hole's sentences, especially when he is musing to himself, were much too wordy I thought that this might have been a sign of the stress that he was under. The only word that sounded strange was the rather archaic "dab" for fingerprint.
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74 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just like a phantom, this book will haunt you., 19 Mar 2012
I have just finished reading this book and I have to admit that I am absolutely blown away. I am a devoted Jo Nesbo fan and I have read all the Harry Hole novels published in the UK. Jo Nesbo continues to excel himself and surprise readers. I bought Phantom on its first day of publication, really hoping it would be good after the disappointment of The Leopard. Phantom is set three years after the events of The Snowman (still my favourite Harry Hole novel) and once I recovered from the initial shock of discovering why Harry Hole has returned to Oslo, the story just kept getting better. Only a master of his craft like Jo Nesbo can begin a book from a rat's viewpoint and keep his readers gripped. Unlike The Leopard, every twist in this book is riveting and while nearly every character is flawed, their flaws only serve to make them feel more real. I was stunned by the final twist at the end and reading the book I actually felt a gut-wrenching pain in my stomach and horror at what was revealed. The cons of this book such as learning the back story through the eyes of a dead character (an unnecessary plot device, in my opinion), are far outweighed by the pros. Phantom is a fantastic, fast paced, exciting, thrilling and touching novel that packs an emotional punch. Although I recommend newcomers read all the Harry Hole series in the right order otherwise some of the novel's resonance will be lost. Phantom deserves high praise for being such a thoroughly enjoyable and brilliantly plotted novel with a lead character you really root for. While I think The Snowman is Nesbo's best work, Phantom reminded me of The Redeemer, another excellent novel in the series. I give Phantom five stars, not simply, for the novel itself, but for Harry Hole who, along with his creator Jo Nesbo, deserves to become the biggest phenomenon in publishing since the dream team of Lisbeth Salander and Stieg Larsson. A delight from start to finish, Phantom is an unforgettable, masterful novel written by an author at the height of his powers. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Read it, you won't regret it. 10 out of 10!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak but still excellent, 20 Feb 2013
By 
Jim Gardner (Egginton, Derbyshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Phantom: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 7) (Kindle Edition)
I have read, and re-read, all the Harry Hole books (with the exception of The Bat - waiting to come down in price on the Kindle first!). I have really enjoyed all of them, with perhaps The Leopard being the least satisfying. This is, at times, a bleak book as it deals with the drug sub culture of Oslo. Never the less, I wasn't dissappointed with The Phantom and it is up there with the best. The main character of Harry is great - flawed but still likeable and I will be sad when the Hole novels end as I look forward to each installment. I had to read the ending twice ( you will know what I mean when you read it)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hole in a hole again - but what a ride!, 17 July 2013
By 
Nick "clubenic" (Stevenage, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I thought the Phatom was the best Harry Hole novel yet despite its detractors and then there is this. It's full of surprises, twists and turns in the same way but is altogether fresh in its approach. What really obsesses the reader is the eternal HH question - will this amazingly talented and principled man ever get a real break in life? I'm not sure that's Nesbo's style but I can't help feeling very sorry for Harry's long-suffering lover, Rakel. At least give her a break!
There is a strong current of nihilism in this instalment of the series broken only by the kindnesses of Harry's love interest from 'The Redeemer', and I wanted to scream at Harry to get over his issues with God and to find the reson for his underlying humanity and commitment to doing the right thing. Thank goodness there is that positive here at least, and it's what ultimately keeps this novel from sinking the reader into despair.
Can't wait for the next one, titled 'Police' apparently!
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's everything you want from a crime thriller, 16 Mar 2012
By 
Bookie (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Phantom: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 7) (Kindle Edition)
Wow, this is a story that just blew me away. I've not read anything by Jo Nesbo, and although this book features the rehabilitated return of a character from earlier works, this one stands alone very well. The prose, pace, characters, plot and dialogue are absolutley first class.

This is a book that hooks the reader from the very first page. I like the use of maps, particularly as this story is set in a country and city which I'm not familiar with. It adds to the feel and sense of reality which makes the story even more plausible. At times it's easy to imagine you are actually in Oslo. But it's the dark and seamy underbelly of the city which we explore. The filth, smells, squalor and low life. I became absolutely immersed in the story immediately and found it very difficult to put down. Nothing is straightforward. Little is as it seems and each page leaves you wanting to turn to the next to see where it's going. And it doesn't always go where you think; it's full of unexpected twists. The pace borders on frightening at times! Truly, it's fast and furious and gets even faster as the story develops. I found the characters compelling. There is angst, conflict, corruption and betrayal all par for the course, but the mix of ingredients here is just right. There's empathy for those who deserve it and I liked everything about the way the narrative storms forward. Another new author for me and I'll certainly be reading the earlier works as well. Brilliant and highly recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A murder is a white whale. A missing person is a white whale. If you've seen a white whale twice, it's the same whale.", 14 April 2012
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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(4.5 stars) In this seventh novel in the Harry Hole series to be translated into English, author Jo Nesbo, with over eleven million thrillers in print, continues to detail Harry's fight against the symbolic "white whales" of injustice. Here, all Harry's experience and knowledge as an Oslo policeman are readied for the biggest fight of his life, one to which he willingly makes a complete emotional commitment. Though he has lived in Hong Kong in self-imposed exile for three years, Harry has just learned that Oleg, the son of Rakel, the love of his life, is now jailed on remand in Oslo for the murder of a drug dealer. Harry has always had problems with alcohol, bureaucratic nonsense, and self-control, even during his career with the Oslo Police, and he has battle scars, both visible and invisible, which have made him a cynical man, but he immediately returns to Oslo to review the case, hoping that he can save Oleg, who has always thought of him as "Dad."

What follows is the most emotionally involving of all the Harry Hole novels to date. Readers should be cautioned, however, that the mainstream press, in their reviews, have included a number of unforgivable spoilers, and one of them in the UK nearly ruined this book for me. This is a book that will strike chords with diehard Harry Hole fans throughout the world, though Nesbo does not give as much background information as many new readers may want in order to appreciate the action surrounding Harry and Oleg and their history.

(No spoilers.) Gusto, a friend of Oleg for several years, has been working for an Oslo drug dealer nicknamed "Dubai," who controls "violin," the most addictive new drug ever to have appeared on Oslo's busy drug scene and for which there is the biggest demand in the city. Dubai is in the catbird seat, eliminating his competition, and when the supply of violin itself begins to dry up due to a shortage of materials relative to demand, Harry begins to investigate whether Dubai and his street dealers are being protected by police and politicians.

Nesbo is a bit "cute" (or darkly humorous) at the beginning, which he tells from the point of view of a rat trying, unsuccessfully, to reach its hungry babies. The body of a wounded young drug addict is blocking her access to them. The point of view then switches to that of the dying young man, Gusto, who is reviewing the circumstances of how he ended up where he is, providing information which connects later with other aspects of the plot. This pattern repeats at the beginning of the next two sections. Phantom provides enough action to keep even the jaded reader actively engaged, however, and Harry is a constantly moving target who must tread carefully, remembering that a misstep can endanger both Oleg and Rakel. Occasionally, the details of the various thread lines become a bit fuzzy and some local slang (not familiar in the US) can sometimes be mystifying. Parts of the story are absurd, even bleakly funny, in retrospect, but Nesbo's pacing will keep most readers reading so fast they will not stop to question what is happening. Ultimately, Nesbo brings this novel to a blockbuster conclusion in emotional and cinematic fashion. Readers who have read the previous Harry Hole novels will not want to miss this one, preferably before the spoilers begin to get more publicity than the novel itself. Mary Whipple
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scandinavian convert, 16 Dec 2012
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I introduced my wife to Harry Hole and she is now obsessed. Well, not quite, but the stories are good and make for enjoyable reading. This is a Christmas present and I know will be well received. From a supplier who delivered quickly and efficiently.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tried once. now I'm addicted, 23 Jan 2014
By 
H. Hulme "helenieh" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is the first Harry Hole book I've read. It works well as a standalone novel, but now I will go back to the beginning and start with The Bat. Nesbo revisits enough background for the new reader to get what they need - hopefully without irritating the loyal fans who have read every last book.
The novel focuses a lot on father (figure)-son relationships, and the effects of father absense - Harry is back to look out for his ex's son, to make up for not being there. The strange, kooky priest figure/nutcase/tramp mentions Abraham and Isaac, although he mainy just rambles on. Q. How much danger will a dad risk for his boy, even though he shares no DNA A. Everything, because he is harry hole, ace detective, intuit, reformed alkie and street fighter extraordinaire!
Another Dad-link is that the junkie/dealer murder victim addresses all his part of the story to his unknown dad.
In fact, this back story coming from the last thoughts of a victim is a device which usually puts me off, but I enjoyed those sections as much as the main novel, because they pushed the story along with some nice reveals, without any of the metaphysical pondering that would have bogged it down.
There are various "Phantoms", from Russian ghost stories, phantom one legged beggars, to the shady identities of those running the city's several drug pushing networks. All very neat.
I loved the style and complexity of the writing, and it goes without saying that it was certainly exciting enough.
I will try to read the other harry hole novels, though I know I won't manage all of them - I started on Leopard long ago and found the opening scene too distressing - the randomness of being picked to be an innocent victim, and the gruesome method haunted me for always and I gave up. Phantom is more bearable because the murder is not random, but a fairly inevitable result of the junkie's own actions. And he is far from innocent, although sometimes I found myself rooting for him against the more powerful or despicable characters, just until he surpassed himself by doing the next truly awful thing, and the next, and the next.
A great tale with believable characters, unbelievable action and survival, and interconnections galore
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and far too gruesome for me., 6 Jan 2014
By 
Babs (Buckinghamshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Phantom: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 7) (Kindle Edition)
I'd read, and really enjoyed, The Redbreast and The Snowman so I fully expected to get as much enjoyment from Phantom. Sadly I found that Harry's character wasan't particularly interesting or engaging in this book and the drugs related plot was much too gory and convoluted, to the point that I lost track of who was selling to whom. It's made me wary of downloading other Harry Hole books as I really couldn't connect with this one and I kept looking at the location numbes and thinking 'surely I must be near the end by now'.
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