Jo Nesbo, a Norwegian author, wrote the Harry Hole crime fiction series. Harry Hole is an indigenous detective working for the Oslo Crime Squad. Harry Hole, like most detectives in crime fiction, has a complicated past. His mother died when he was a child and he doesn’t talk to his dad and tries to take care of his sister with Down Syndrome. A recovering alcoholic, he struggles with his addiction. The majority of the Harry Hole series is set in Oslo, Norway’s capital.
The Bat, Harry Hole’s first novel, was released in 1997. Our protagonist is dispatched to Australia to investigate the death of a Norwegian celebrity.
The Bat addresses the cultural barriers that Hole should face to solve this crime.
Cockroaches, the second book in the series, was published in 1998. It is set in Thailand, where Hole investigates the death of the Norwegian ambassador. Following Cockroaches, The Redbreast, released in 2000, was the first book in the series to be set in Norway. It features Hole investigating a neo-Nazi organization. It is also set in part during World War II.
The Snowman is possibly the most well-known novel in the Harry Hole series. It was released in 2007 and it follows our hero on the trail of Norway’s first serial killer.
In the twelve books, the readers get on a fascinating voyage through the character’s realm. Nesbo creates a complex and refined story, filled with suspense and superb characters.
Harry Hole Books in order
- The Bat (1997)
- Cockroaches (1998)
- The Redbreast (2000)
- Nemesis (2002)
- The Devil’s Star (2003)
- The Redeemer (2005)
- The Snowman (2007)
- The Leopard (2009)
- Phantom (2011)
- Police (2013)
- The Thirst (2017)
- Knife (2019)
- Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell follows Kurt Wallander, a detective in a tiny town in southern Sweden. He is faced with the murder of an elderly couple on a cold January morning.
- Tess Gerritsen’s The Surgeon follows a serial killer stalking the streets of Boston. He tortures and murders vulnerable women using his medical knowledge. See also: Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli And Isles Books in Order.
See also: The Dexter series Books in Order.
Most recommended books of the series
- Knife (Harry Hole, #12) (4.27 Goodreads score)
- Police (Harry Hole, #10) (4.22 Goodreads score)
- The Thirst (Harry Hole, #11) (4.18 Goodreads score)
- Phantom (Harry Hole, #9) (4.11 Goodreads score)
- The Leopard (Harry Hole, #8) (4.08 Goodreads score)
Some of Jo Nesbo’s awards are The Riverton Prize, CWA International Dagger Award, and The Glass Key Award.
Upcoming releases in the series
The next Harry Hole book is called Knife and it’s going to be released on June 2nd, 2022.
Movies based on the books
The Snowman, the seventh novel in the series, was turned into a movie in 2017 starring Michael Fassbender.
The Bat (1997)
The victim is a twenty-three year old Norwegian woman who is a minor celebrity back home. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Harry befriends one of the lead detectives, and one of the witnesses, as he is drawn deeper into the case. Together, they discover that this is only the latest in a string of unsolved murders, and the pattern points toward a psychopath working his way across the country.As they circle closer and closer to the killer, Harry begins to fear that no one is safe, least of all those investigating the case.
When the Norwegian ambassador to Thailand is found dead in a Bangkok brothel, Inspector Harry Hole is dispatched from Oslo to help hush up the case.But once he arrives Harry discovers that this case is about much more than one random murder. There is something else, something more pervasive, scrabbling around behind the scenes. Or, put another way, for every cockroach you see in your hotel room, there are hundreds behind the walls. Surrounded by round-the-clock traffic noise, Harry wanders the streets of Bangkok lined with go-go bars, temples, opium dens, and tourist traps, trying to piece together the story of the ambassador’s death even though no one asked him to, and no one wants him to—not even Harry himself.
The Redbreast (2000)
Detective Harry Hole embarrassed the force, and for his sins he’s been reassigned to mundane surveillance tasks. But while monitoring neo-Nazi activities in Oslo, Hole is inadvertently drawn into a mystery with deep roots in Norway’s dark past—when members of the nation’s government willingly collaborated with Nazi Germany. More than sixty years later, this black mark won’t wash away, and disgraced old soldiers who once survived a brutal Russian winter are being murdered, one by one. Now, with only a stained and guilty conscience to guide him, an angry, alcoholic, error-prone policeman must make his way safely past the traps and mirrors of a twisted criminal mind. For a hideous conspiracy is rapidly taking shape around Hole—and Norway’s darkest hour may still be to come.
Captured on closed-circuit television: A man walks into an Oslo bank, puts a gun to a cashier’s head, and tells her to count to 25. When he doesn’t get his money fast enough, he pulls the trigger. The young woman dies—and two million Norwegian kroner disappear without a trace.After a drunken evening with his former girlfriend, Anna Bethsen, Police Detective Harry Hole wakes up at home with a headache, no cell phone, and no memory of the past 12 hours. That same day, Anna is found shot dead in her bedroom, making Hole a prime suspect in an investigation led by his hated adversary, Tom Waaler.Meanwhile, the bank robberies continue with unparalleled savagery, sending rogue detective Hole from the streets of Oslo to steaming Brazil in a race to close two cases and clear his name. But Waaler isn’t finished with his longtime nemesis quite yet.
The Devil’s Star (2003)
In the heat of a sweltering Oslo summer, a young woman is found murdered in her flat—with one of her fingers cut off and a tiny red star-shaped diamond placed under her eyelid. An off-the-rails alcoholic barely holding on to his job, Detective Harry Hole is assigned to the case with Tom Waaler, a hated colleague whom Harry believes is responsible for the murder of his partner. When another woman is reported missing five days later, and her severed finger turns up adorned with a red star-shaped diamond ring, Harry fears a serial killer is at work.But Hole’s determination to capture a fiend and to expose Waaler’s crimes is leading him into shadowy places where both investigations merge in unexpected ways, forcing him to make difficult decisions about a future he may not live to see.
The Redeemer (2005)
Shots ring out at a Salvation Army Christmas concert in Oslo, leaving one of the singers dead in the street. The trail will lead Harry Hole, Oslo’s best investigator and worst civil servant, deep into the darkest corners of the city and, eventually, to Croatia. An assassin forged in the war-torn region has been brought to Oslo to settle an old debt. As the police circle in, the killer becomes increasingly desperate and the danger mounts for Harry and his colleagues.
The Snowman (2007)
One night, after the first snowfall of the year, a boy named Jonas wakes up and discovers that his mother has disappeared. Only one trace of her remains: a pink scarf, his Christmas gift to her, now worn by the snowman that inexplicably appeared in their yard earlier that day. Inspector Harry Hole suspects a link between the missing woman and a suspicious letter he’s received. The case deepens when a pattern emerges: over the past decade, eleven women have vanished—all on the day of the first snow. But this is a killer who makes his own rules . . . and he’ll break his pattern just to keep the game interesting, as he draws Harry ever closer into his twisted web. With brilliantly realized characters and hair-raising suspense, international bestselling author Jo Nesbø presents his most chilling case yet—one that will test Harry Hole to the very limits of his sanity.
The Leopard (2009)
Inspector Harry Hole has retreated to Hong Kong, escaping the trauma of his last case in squalid opium dens, when two young women are found dead in Oslo, both drowned in their own blood. Media coverage quickly reaches a fever pitch. There are no clues, the police investigation is stalled, and Harry—the one man who might be able to help—can’t be found. After he returns to Oslo, the killer strikes again, Harry’s instincts take over, and nothing can keep him from the investigation, though there is little to go on. Worse, he will soon come to understand that he is dealing with a psychopath who will put him to the test, both professionally and personally, as never before.
When Harry Hole moved to Hong Kong, he thought he was escaping the traumas of his life in Oslo and his career as a detective for good. But now, the unthinkable has happened—Oleg, the boy he helped raise, has been arrested for killing a man. Harry can’t believe that Oleg is a murderer, so he returns to hunt down the real killer.Although he’s off the police force, he still has a case to solve that will send him into the depths of the city’s drug culture, where a shockingly deadly new street drug is gaining popularity. This most personal of investigations will force Harry to confront his past and the wrenching truth about Oleg and himself.
For years, detective Harry Hole has been at the center of every major criminal investigation in Oslo. His brilliant insights and dedication to his job have saved countless lives over the years. But as the killer grows increasingly bold and the media reaction increasingly hysterical, the detective is nowhere to be found. This time, when those he loves and values most are facing terrible danger, Harry is in no position to protect anyone—least of all himself.
The Thirst (2017)
The murder victim, a self-declared Tinder addict. The one solid clue—fragments of rust and paint in her wounds—leaves the investigating team baffled. Two days later, there’s a second murder: a woman of the same age, a Tinder user, an eerily similar scene. The chief of police knows there’s only one man for this case. But Harry Hole is no longer with the force. He promised the woman he loves, and he promised himself, that he’d never go back: not after his last case, which put the people closest to him in grave danger. But there’s something about these murders that catches his attention, something in the details that the investigators have missed. For Harry, it’s like hearing “the voice of a man he was trying not to remember.” Now, despite his promises, despite everything he risks, Harry throws himself back into the hunt for a figure who haunts him, the monster who got away.
Harry Hole is not in a good place. Rakel–the only woman he’s ever loved–has ended it with him, permanently. He’s been given a chance for a new start with the Oslo Police but it’s in the cold case office, when what he really wants is to be investigating cases he suspects have ties to Svein Finne, the serial rapist and murderer who Harry helped put behind bars. And now, Finne is free after a decade-plus in prison–free, and Harry is certain, unreformed and ready to take up where he left off. But things will get worse. When Harry wakes up the morning after a blackout, drunken night with blood that’s clearly not his own on his hands, it’s only the very beginning of what will be a waking nightmare the likes of which even he could never have imagined.