From the book
IAmid the noises of the night in downtown Oslo--the regular drone of cars outside the window, the distant siren that rose and fell and the church bells that had begun to chime nearby--a rat went on the hunt for food. She ran her nose over the filthy linoleum on the kitchen floor. The pungent smell of gray cigarette ash. The sugary-sweet aroma of blood on a piece of cotton gauze. The bitter odor of beer on the inside of a bottle cap, Ringnes lager. Molecules of sulfur, saltpeter and carbon dioxide filtered up from an empty metal cartridge case designed for a nine-by-eighteen- millimeter lead bullet, also called a Makarov, after the gun to which the caliber was originally adapted. Smoke from a still-smoldering cigarette with a yellow filter and blackpaper, bearing the Russian imperial eagle. The tobacco was edible. And there: a stench of alcohol, leather, grease and asphalt. A shoe. She sniffed it. The obstacle lay on its side with its back to the wall blocking the entrance to the nest, and her eight newly born, blind, hairless babies were screaming ever louder for her milk. The mountain of flesh smelled of salt, sweat and blood. It was a human body. A living human being; her sensitive ears could detect the faint heartbeats between her babies' hungry squeals.
The church bells were ringing in time with the human heart now. One beat, two. Three, four . . .
The rat bared her teeth.
July. Shit. It sucks to die in July. Is that really church bells I hear, or were there hallucinogens in the damn bullets? OK, so it stops here. And what difference does it make? Here or there. Now or later. But do I really deserve to die in July? With the birds singing, bottles clinking, laughter from down by the Akerselva and fricking summer merriment right outside the window? Do I deserve to be lying on the floor of an infected junkie pit with an extra hole in my body, as life rushes out of it along with flashbacks of everything that's led me here? Is that me, is that everything, is that my life? I had plans, didn't I? And now it's no more than a bag of dust, a joke without a punchline, so short I could have told it before that insane bell stopped ringing. Shit! No one told me it would hurt so much to die. Are you there, Dad? Don't go, not now. The joke goes like this: My name's Gusto. I lived to the age of nineteen. You were a bad guy who screwed a bad woman and nine months later I popped out and got shipped to a foster family before I could say "Da-da." I caused as much trouble as I could. They just wrapped the suffocating care blanket even tighter and asked me what I wanted. A fricking ice cream? They had no goddamn idea that people like you and me would end up shot, exterminated, that we spread contagion and decay and would multiply like rats if we got the chance. They have only themselves to blame. But they also want things. Everyone wants something. I was thirteen the first time I saw in my foster mother's eyes what she wanted.
"You're so handsome, Gusto," she said. She had come into the bathroom--I had left the door open, and hadn't turned on the shower so that the sound wouldn't warn her. She stood there for exactly a second too long before going out. And I laughed, because now I knew. That's my talent, Dad: I can see what people want. Do I take after you? After she left I looked at myself in the full-length mirror. She wasn't the first to call me handsome. I had developed earlier than the other boys. Tall, tight, already broad-shouldered. Hair so black it gleamed. High cheekbones. Square chin. A big, greedy mouth, but with lips as full as a girl's. Smooth, tanned skin....
Author: Jo Nesbo
JO NESBØ is a musician, songwriter, economist, and author. He has won the Glass Key Award for best Nordic crime novel. His other Harry Hole novels include The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil's Star, The Snowman, and The Leopard. He lives in Oslo. Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.
"Intricate, breakneck plotting makes for an addictive page-turner in Phantom . . . Brings to mind Michael Connelly's tortured LAPD detective Harry Bosch." - Los Angeles Times
"The Oslo depiction adds a contemporary heft to Phantom that expands Nesbø's reach . . . Suggests more than a few parallels to the great television series 'The Wire'; perhaps it is one master's nod to another." - Boston Globe
"Phantom will maintain Jo Nesbø's unstoppable momentum." - The Independent (UK)
"Easily the most troubling and heartfelt of this excellent series, Phantom is one of the finest suspense novels to come out of Scandinavia to date." - BookPage
"Nesbø's true subject is the deterioration of the social fabric that has made Oslo such a civilized place." - New York Times Book Review
"A compulsive page-turner . . . [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." - The Independent on Sunday (UK)
"Far more than a procedural . . . Personal and topical and hip, as usual." - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Nesbø has written a cunningly constructed thriller . . . running at Hollywood summer blockbuster speed." - Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Superb on every level . . . 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." - Booklist (starred)
"A first-class thriller . . . Contains several twists, some of which will make you gasp and at least one of which will make you cry . . . 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)
"Deeply moving . . . This is Harry's most personal case." - Publishers Weekly (starred)
"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
"The internationally popular detective series by the Norwegian author builds to a blockbuster climax [in Phantom] . . . Those hooked by [The Snowman] or earlier ones should make their way here as quickly as they can . . . Devastating for protagonist and reader alike." - Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Phantom is an astoundingly good novel. Nesbø has done it again." - Trouw (Netherlands)
"Another excellent example of why Nesbø has such a firm grasp on the Nordic crime crown . . . Nesbø's portrait of venality and corruption is bleakly angry, his peek beneath Oslo's gleaming façade disturbing; a fascination with addiction adds to his writing's unsettling intensity. But he doesn't let this overwhelm a tightly coiled plot." - Metro (UK)