Jo Nesbø has been called the next Stieg Larsson, and this month, our Whodunit columnist calls his newest thriller, Phantom, “one of the finest suspense novels to come out of Scandinavia to date.” It's our Top Pick in Mystery, and it's “easily the most troubling and heartfelt” of the Harry Hole series.
We checked in with Nesbø to talk a bit about reading, Harry Hole and great writing advice.
Describe your book in one sentence.
Harry, back in Oslo from Hong Kong to prove that Rakel's son Oleg is not a murderer, sets out on a dangerous investigation that takes him deep into the world of the most lethal drug to ever hit Oslo, and into the maze of his own past, where he will find the truth.
If you woke up in Harry Hole's shoes one morning, what would you do?
I have no idea. Harry is good, and although he may not be my alter ego, I’ve certainly used a lot of my own person in Harry. Let’s say 70%. The best parts. Well, some of the not so good, too. But I must have put some of my analytical abilities in there, I believe.
What is one book readers might be surprised to know you have read?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I'm glad it was short.
What is the greatest compliment you've received for your books?
When young people says it inspired them to write.
What is the best writing advice you've ever received?
Be the psychopath. You have to be able to identify with a character, similar to how an actor works. It might be scary sometimes, but that's what you have to do. Humans are complex; you'll be able to find most things within yourself. Just use your imagination.
Some readers might not know that you are also the author of several children's books in the Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder series. What was your favorite book as a child?
My favorite book as a child was Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. It was funny, had bizarre characters and suspense. And a bona fide murder.
Writing. Always writing.