Gjenferd Phantom

Harry Hole #9

Summer. A boy, Gusto, is lying on the floor of an Oslo apartment. He is bleeding and will soon die. He is trying to make sense of what has happened. In order to place his life and death in some kind of context he begins to tell his story. Outside, the church bells chime.

Autumn. Former Police Detective Harry Hole returns to Oslo after three years abroad. He seeks out his former boss at Police Headquarters to request permission to investigate a homicide. But the case is already closed: a young junkie, Gusto, was in all likelihood shot dead by a fellow addict in a squabble over drugs. 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, Gusto continues his story.

A man walks the dark streets of nighttime Oslo. The streets are his and he has always been there. He is a phantom.

“I’ve just finished the latest Jo Nesbo thriller Phantom; I love the series of Harry Hole thrillers.”
—Roger Moore

Click here for a video interview in English with Jo Nesbø about Phantom.
Click here to watch a book trailer on Phantom made by Jo Nesbø’s US publisher Knopf.
Click here to watch a book trailer on Phantom made by Jo Nesbø’s Swedish publisher Piratförlaget.
Click here to watch a book trailer on Phantom made by Jo Nesbø’s UK publisher Harvill Secker.
Click here to watch a book trailer on Phantom made by Jo Nesbø’s German publisher Ullstein.


Shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger (Best Translated Crime Novel of the Year) UK 2012
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  • “Deeply moving /…/ This is Harry’s most personal case, and yet Nesbø never allows Harry’s paternal feelings for Oleg cloud his need for truth, however costly that pursuit may be.”

    Publishers Weekly, US

  • “Norwegian crime fiction writer Nesbø is one of the best. /…/ Oslo’s gritty and violent drug world is brought to life through the characters. The fast-paced plots are twisted and riveting, and the two stories collide to reveal a shocking climax. Nesbø is on par with the original Scandinavian duo Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, authors of the Martin Beck series.”

    Library Journal, US

  • “Intricate, breakneck plotting make for an addictive page-turner in Phantom, the latest in the Harry Hole detective series by Jo Nesbo.”

    Los Angeles Times, US

  • “Nesbø has written a cunningly constructed thriller with a lot of moving parts, and once he sets the machinery in motion, the pace accelerates. A lot. By the time he reaches the middle of the book, Nesbø has got it running at Hollywood summer blockbuster speed, with the chases and armed showdowns to match. Throw in the seedy setting — Oslo's dark underbelly is Nesbø's wheelhouse — and it's no wonder Martin Scorsese is slated to direct a big-budget film adaptation of Nesbø's 2010 novel, The Snowman. It will be the first English-language adaptation of Nesbø's work, but I guarantee it won't be the last. Gritty noir sells, especially when it's as good as Nesbø's.”

    Richmond Times-Dispatch, US

  • “[Phantom] is personal and topical and hip, as usual. /…/ Mr. Nesbo, who knows his hometown of Oslo from the inside, also knows how to build tension both in his fiction and in our expectations /…/ Phantom is far more than a procedural /…/ Mr. Nesbo's storytelling from inside Gusto's head, presented in italics as if it were a dream, is something fresh for a Harry Hole novel. It's dramatically effective, casting a kind of spell even as it develops scaffolding for the increasingly serpentine plot. /…/ Phantom bristles with violent scenes, an unusual form of torture involving a brick, nails and an ear, evocations of Oslo's atmosphere so vivid they put you there, and even romance. In addition to being a mystery, Phantom is a love story; Mr. Nesbo, like fellow Scandinavian noir auteurs Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell, characterizes women with affection and understanding, and his keen depiction of Rakel, though minimalist, explains Harry's love for her.”

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, US

  • “Nesbø begins with an emotionally gripping family drama but surrounds it with an elaborate, beautifully constructed plot involving [a] new drug and the ruthless man who rules its distribution. The subplots, plot twists (especially the last one), and the fully fleshed supporting characters – many of whom could drive their own novels – are all testament to Nesbø’s remarkable talent, but finally, it all comes back to Harry and the pain he endures in trying to carve out a separate peace from a world and a past that won’t let him go. Superb on every level.”

    Booklist, US

  • “[The Harry Hole series is] one of the finest set of crime fiction works available in any language, one in which each successive volume tops its predecessor. Phantom, Jo Nesbo's latest offering, is no exception; it is his most challenging and complex work to date, a novel that brings Harry so close to his own heart of darkness that it is at times painful to read yet compels one to do so, and as quickly as possible. /…/ Comparisons of Phantom with Breaking Bad are inevitable but simplistic, though both share the overall subject matter of drugs as well as an occasional gloriously dark humor. However, there are more differences than similarities between the two, and each can be enjoyed on its own terms. As far as Phantom is concerned, the haunting ending will leave new and old readers alike hungry for the next installment. If you don't read another book this year, please read this one.”

    The Book Reporter, US

  • “An ace in the Hole /…/ Phantom is [Jo Nesbø’s] most realistic and most affecting. The villains – and there are quite a few – are people you might meet on the street or who even live next door, making Phantom even more chilling. /…/ Phantom, released last month, delivers an unnerving view of the far-reaching drug trade and the market for synthetics, which might be even more dangerous.”

    The Columbus Dispatch, US

  • “The Nesbø phenomenon has transcended "next Stieg Larsson" status. In practically every comparison except books sold (and, with millions to date, Nesbø's catching up), he's superior to his late Swedish counterpart: more imaginative, better plotting, richer characters, stronger narrative momentum, more psychological and philosophical depth. /…/ [Phantom is] one of the most cleanly plotted novels in the series /…/ Where earlier novels provide a better introduction to [Harry] Hole, this one best takes the full measure of the man.”

    Kirkus Reviews *Starred Review*, US

  • Phantom is a tragedy in several ways yet it doesn’t drip with typical Scandi gloom. What’s more, and what’s more important, is that it is a first-class thriller — Harry is in constant jeopardy — and the complex plot — peopled by carefully delineated characters not puppets — contains several twists some of which will make you gasp and at least one of which will make you cry. There is no shortage of special claims for crime novels that escape the straitjacket of genre. The consolations of genre are not to be underestimated but Phantom is Nesbø’s finest novel, a novel for grown-ups, which triumphantly proves, as Harry says, that "humans are a perverted and damaged species and there is no cure, only relief ".”

    Evening Standard, UK

  • “[Phantom] is a gritty, pared-back thriller.”

    Esquire, UK

  • “Nesbo, as ever, is not interested in painting a tourist-friendly view of his country. He banishes cliché in this overworked genre – his recovering-alcoholic, shambolic, rule-breaking detective is somehow always surprising us. /…/ The relationship between Harry and Rakel is truly multifaceted, and richer in nuance than anything else in the crime genre. Phantom will maintain Jo Nesbo's unstoppable momentum.”

    Barry Forshaw, The Independent, UK

  • “Perhaps it was unrealistic to expect Nesbo to reach the dizzying heights of his two previous books, The Snowman and The Leopard. How wrong I was. Phantom is arguably a much better book than any previous installments. Nesbo wrings out the tension, by turns painful and delicious, with consummate skill. The surprises come like an avalanche as the end nears, engulfing everything in its path, including Harry Hole. The final mystery will be what is left standing in its aftermath.”

    Daily Express, UK

  • “[Phantom] is expertly plotted and structured, with all the requisite twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. The latter half of the book is also relentlessly paced, reading at times like a Scandinavian police version of the Jason Bourne series.”

    Doug Johnstone, The Independent, UK

  • Phantom is an astoundingly good novel. Nesbø has done it again.”

    Trouw, Netherlands

  • “Harry Hole is back, a detective in the classic hard-boiled mode, world weary, flawed, but with a passion for justice. Harry is also Norwegian, and his creator, Jo Nesbo, stakes a claim to being the best crime writer to emerge from Scandinavia. The comparisons are with Henning Mankel and Wallander rather than Stieg Larsson /…/ Another winner for Nesbo.”

    The Independent, Ireland

  • “Extremely thrilling!”

    Die Zeit, Germany

  • “A brilliant thriller rife with exciting twists by one of the best Scandinavian crime authors.”

    Bücher, Germany

  • “As for imagination and beauty, Phantom is in good company with such novels as Don Winslow's The Power of the Dog and TV-series as Breaking Bad and The Killing.”

    La Repubblica, Italy

  • “Overwhelming”

    Le Figaro, France

  • “Very suspenseful”

    Le Point, France

  • “With Phantom, Jo Nesbø is at the top of his game and establishes him as the Grand Master of international thrillers”

    20 Minutes.fr, France

  • “One of the most captivating plots of the year”

    Le Monde, France

  • Phantom has an absolute darkness that holds one in suspense from the first to the last sentence. Addictive.”

    Avantages, France

  • “Jo Nesbø has never before had a better command of his material and told his story with such a confident sense of style. One takes pleasure in sarcastically hard-boiled phrases that could not have been delivered any better by Hammett or Chandler over there on the mean streets of California. The crime plot provides one delightfully nail-biting twist and turn after another.”

    Jyllands-Posten, Denmark

  • “Yet another excellent crime novel where hope for the best and despair for the worst fight until the very last page /…/ A volcano of human drama, spanning from the sweetest to the foulest feelings”


    Ekstra Bladet, Denmark

  • “Nesbø is one of the best suspense writers in the world and this novel fully confirms that claim. The novel is suspenseful, moving, well written and impossible to put down. /…/ I just can't recommend this enough.”

    Litteratursiden, Denmark

  • Phantom must be the crime novel of the year. There is no one better or even equal to Jo Nesbø in Scandinavian crime fiction. /…/ You are pulled into to the most raw, unsettling and tragic situations – it hurts to read Nesbø, that's just the way it is. It is written in a minor key and it ends in a minor key and leaves no hope for the future. Or does it, Jo Nesbø? Please!”

    Weekendavisen, Denmark

  • “Harry Hole returns in one of the best crime novels of our times. /…/ [Nesbø is] Scandinavia's greatest plot and intrigue maker, the most intelligent and well researched crime writer.”

    Politiken, Denmark

  • “[Phantom] requires strong nerves and stomach as [Nesbø] masters the plot and the violence like no other. And in addition, he simultaneously endows the crime genre with a deeper resonance. /…/ Nesbø masters the legacy of the American Noir tradition (Chandler, Hammett, Ellroy) with an impressive confidence and independence. His character portrayal, the dark humor and candid violence sometimes resembles Frank Miller's dark comic hell Sin City, but not exclusively as he finds room for more nuances. It is violent, fiercely entertaining and wide-ranging enough to awake the reader's imagination and keep it alive all the way through.”


    Berlingske, Denmark

  • “As always, Nesbø writes with gruesome effectivity /…/ This is a crime novel without any dead spots, cleverly constructed and with a constantly fascinating story.”

    Göteborgs-Posten, Sweden

  • “Just as dark, just as well-written and just as dreadfully suspenseful as the previous novels in the series”

    Värmlands Folkblad, Sweden

  • “Fantastic /…/ The pace is high and the violence plentiful, and Jo Nesbø does what he is so impressively good at – mixing action with a powerful depiction of a frightening big-city reality that is both engaging and upsetting.”

    Norra Skåne, Sweden

  • “Fast-paced, entertaining and frightening. Moreover, [Nesbø] is good at dialogue, characterization and unpredictable endings.”

    Svenska Dagbladet, Sweden

  • “Truly fascinating… One can almost hear the western soundtrack when [Harry] clinks his spurs and steps into the saloon… Nesbø’s novels about Harry Hole are earnest action stories in straightforward prose, but they contain a great deal beyond the plot itself.”

    Dagens Nyheter, Sweden

  • “The return of the Master /…/ I have always praised Nesbø's books and Phantom offers no reason to revise the opinion that Jo Nesbø is one of the best in his genre.”

    Kristianstadsbladet, Sweden

  • “Once again Nesbø demonstrates that he is a crime writer of absolute world class /…/ It is an amazing achievement for a crime writer to put as much effort into the characters as the plot. And it is never trivial. Even the love scenes are believable (and they seldom are in literature). /…/ You will understand what I mean when you read Phantom. And please do, this is a masterpiece of the genre. Jo Nesbø just gets better and better.”

    Västerbottens Folkblad, Sweden

  • “Clever and suspenseful… full of twists, turns and impressive stylistic devices.”

    Sundsvalls Tidning, Sweden

  • “Harry Hole, better than ever.”

    Dagsavisen, Norway

  • “I’m happy to announce that all expectations are met. /…/ What’s most salient is Jo Nesbø’s intense, eloquent yet terse prose. The same goes for his talent as a story teller, as well as his eye for narrative construction.”

    NRK, Norway

  • “Jo Nesbø has driven Harry Hole’s somber love story all the way into the dark. It is masterfully done.”

    Vårt Land, Norway

  • “With a steady hand, Jo Nesbø deftly ties together the different narratives, steering the novel towards its goal with great precision. /…/ The fact that Harry Hole is a character in constant development makes the book even more interesting. /…/ Great, somber summer reading.”


    Verdens Gang, Norway

  • “The latest novel about Harry Hole, Phantom, is possibly the best in the series.”

    Dagens Næringsliv, Norway

  • “Jo Nesbø is a master of his craft. His latest novel, Phantom, is world-class crime writing. Phantom is a crime novel that pleases on every level.”

    Dagbladet, Norway

Photo: Stian Broch Jo Nesbø
  • Crime
Reading material

Norwegian edition

English edition

Rights sold

Arab World, Arab Scientific

Azerbaijan, Qanun

Brazil, Record

Bulgaria, Emas

Canada, Penguin Random House

Catalonia, Proa

China, Booky (Simplified Chinese)

Croatia, Fokus

Czech Republic, Zlin

Denmark, Modtryk

Estonia, Varrak

Finland, Johnny Kniga

France, Gallimard

Germany, Ullstein

Greece, Metaixmio

Hungary, Animus

Iceland, Forlagid

Israel, Babel

Italy, Einaudi

Japan, Shueisha

Korea, Viche

Latvia, Zvaigzne ABC

Lithuania, Baltos Lankos

Netherlands, Cargo

North Macedonia, TRI

Norway, Aschehoug

Poland, Dolnoslaskie

Portugal, Dom Quixote

Romania, Trei

Russia, Inostranka

Serbia, Laguna

Slovakia, Ikar

Slovenia, Didakta

Slovenia, Mladinska

Spain, Mondadori

Sweden, Albert Bonniers

Taiwan, Azoth (Complex Chinese)

Türkiye, Dogan Egmont

UK, Harvill

Ukraine, Folio

US, Knopf

Film rights sold

UK/US, Working Title / Gjenferd

More From Jo Nesbø

Harry Hole

Short Story Collection

Doctor Proctor

Blood on Snow