Reading dates: 18 November – 17 December 2017
Phantom is crime fiction as I like it: a well paced story, in an atmospheric place, with good, solid characters and a plot I can follow to the minutiae while it still surprises me. The storyline is clever, involving Harry Hole’s personal and professional lives as well as big picture issues (drug cartels, immigration, families falling apart). Two things let it down: Harry’s ability to recover from injuries which would kill anyone else (the gaffa tape around the neck was too much) and the word-smithery. Nesbø has tried to experiment by intermingling Gusto’s account (a letter, a recording, a ghost?) with the third person narrator telling most of the story, but they do not work together. Why is Gusto telling this to his foster (or perhaps real) dad? Just to mirror Oleg’s narrative with Harry? I just found that odd, even though his view point is necessary in the novel. It is not David Peace, though, and perhaps some of it might be due to the translation.
In any case, I cannot stop now. I found this to be my perfect Christmas read and it is not yet Christmas, so I will be going to the next Harry Hole straight away. I needed a bit of good old silly escapism, and Phantom is 4 stars because it fulfils that role very well.