A dealing junkie is killed. The suspect is another junkie, Oleg, the son of an ex-girlfriend of Harry Hole, a former detective living in Hong Kong. He can't believe that Oleg is a murderer, and so he returns to Oslo to find the real murderer.
I found the start of Phantom confusing and it took me a while to get into the story about drugs and corruption. There's a lot of action, with the main character, Harry Hole, being a bit too superman-like for my taste. What I liked were the flash backs told from the dead man's point of view. The end is unexpected, albeit with a cliffhanger, something I don't like...
Quotes from the book
Rakel. The great love of his life. As simple as that. And as complicated.
The reason it had to be with the knife was that the man he was going to kill was a policeman. And when policemen are killed the hunt afterwards was always more intensive, so it was vital to leave as few clues as possible. A bullet could always be traced back to places, weapons or people. A slash from a smooth, clean knife was anonymous.
"They hang them upside down, put a plastic bag over their heads and tie it loosely, around the neck. Then they begin to pour water down their heels. It follows the body down to the bag and fills it up. The method's called the Man on the Moon."
"What do you know about him?" - "What I've just told you, Harry." - "You didn't tell me anything." - "Exactly."
[...] as resistance was useless I began to think about a proper price. Paid rape is better than unpaid, after all.
Behind the wheel sat a little guy with much too small a head for all the big things that should fit in it: a huge nose, a white, lipless shark-mouth and bulging eyes that looked as if they had been stuck on with crap glue.
[...] there's something odd about screwing a woman who howls like a model aircraft two metres from sturdy, ruminating horses, which watch you with a semi-interested stare.
If there were new goods in town you went to where the most desperate junkies hung out, the ones willing to test anything so long as it's free, who don't care if it kills them because death is round the corner anyway.
If he had been a domestic pet he would have been put down on purely aesthetic grounds.
[...] he stank of an indefinable mixture of dental surgery and excrement.
He eyed his suit hanging in the wardrobe. It looked as though it had been through two world wars.
No suspicious types. Or, to be more accurate, loads of suspicious types, but no one who could be presumed to be police.
"I know nothing", he said. "About what?" Harry asked. "About what I know you're going to ask."
He had to become rich. Because money is like cosmetics, it conceals everything, it gets you everything, including those things which it is said are not for sale: respect, admiration, love. You just had to look around; beauty marries money every time.
He felt like punching her, a right hook, with all his strength, he didn't need to worry about his knuckles with those bloody hamster cheeks.
"I know what you're thinking", Harry said. "But before you make any phone calls or try to stop me in any other way perhaps you should bear in mind that everything I know about you and this case is held by a solicitor. He has been instructed how to act if anything should happen to me. Understand?" Lies, Truls thought, and nodded. Hole chuckled. "Think I'm lying, don't you. But you can't be one hundred per cent sure, can you?"
From the chest a tattoo of the Virgin Mary stared up at him. Which, as Harry knew, symbolised that the bearer had been a criminal since his childhood years.
"[...] for him prison was worse than death. Prison eats your soul, death only liberates it. Prison was what he wished for those he hated most."