Review – Phantom (Harry Hole #9) by Jo Nesbo

13256064Remember the complaints I listed in my review of Book 8?  Well, forget them.  Book 9 is freaking brilliant and justified none of the worries I had a few weeks ago.

I won’t spoil this book for you but might spoil prior installments.  Be forewarned.

Phantom begins with Harry living on the wagon in Hong Kong.  He is now a collections agent (ha!) and is keeping his act together.  When he gets a call from Beate Lonn that Oleg has been arrested for murder, he comes back to Oslo to help clear the boy who once called him Dad.

Where to begin?  Nesbo didn’t use serial killers or grisly, inventive murders.  Instead he focused on the characters.  Specifically, Harry, Rakel and Oleg.  Both Harry and Rakel admit that they are the loves of each others lives.  But they haven’t been able to make it work because of his job and addiction to alcohol.  She pulled back even more after the events of The Snowman and Oleg lost his father figure.  It would be easy to blame all of his problems on this but that would give him a free pass that he doesn’t deserve.  Oleg has had some tough times in his life but his mother has loved him unconditionally and when it mattered, Harry was always there for him even with they weren’t together.  Phantom is, put simply, heartbreaking because we know the boy that Oleg was and glimpse the man he may become – both good and bad.

Secondary characters are familiar.  Gunnar Hagen as the head of the Crime Squad, Beate, Bjorn Holm, Mikael Bellman and even Martine, who we met The Redeemer.  We have finally narrowed down those that are truly Harry’s friends.  Hint: not everyone on the list above is a friend to Harry.

Nesbo slips in and out of the timeline to keep us on our toes.  The murder victim narrates a portion of the flashbacks to allow us to see the entire picture.  And, yes, the author does use misdirection to his advantage and you will never see it coming.  It isn’t manipulative but, as a reader, take nothing for granted!  Pay attention to the details and you will be glued to the pages until the end.

5/5 stars.  So far, there is one more book in the series.  It’s possible that it is the final installment for Harry and I cannot wait to see what Nesbo has in store for us.

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