Harry Hole

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Harry Hole
Fassbender as Harry Hole.jpg
Michael Fassbender portraying Harry Hole
First appearanceThe Bat (1997)
Created byJo Nesbø
Portrayed byMichael Fassbender
OccupationPolice detective
AffiliationOslo Police Department
FamilySøs Hole (sister)
Rakel Fauke (wife)
Oleg Fauke (adopted son)

Harry Hole is the main character in a series of crime novels written by Norwegian author Jo Nesbø.[1] Hole is a brilliant and driven detective with unorthodox methods, a classic loose cannon in the police force.[2] Critics link the personality of Harry Hole to those of the famous literary detectives: Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Jules Maigret, and Nero Wolfe,[3] but in the word of Jo Nesbo himself it is to Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, that he refers as a tribute more than a simple inspiration.


Harry Hole is a police officer with the Oslo Crime Squad. He was born in 1965 and has a younger sister with Down syndrome to whom he is deeply attached. He lost his mother, a descendant of the Sami people, to cancer while he was in his twenties and has never had a close relationship to his father Olav, a former teacher. Hole is unmarried but has had relationships with a number of women throughout the series of eleven novels. Otherwise, he has few close friends. Hole frequently makes enemies among his colleagues who, nevertheless, grudgingly respect him.

He is a chain smoker and heavy drinker, although, at times, his alcoholism is under control. The effects of his problem sometimes bring him into repeated conflict with his superiors and some colleagues, but Bjarne Møller, head of Hole's department and one of his closest friends, manages to prevent him from being sacked as a result, primarily because he recognises that Harry Hole is a brilliant detective. Hole is one of few in the force to have undergone special training in interrogation techniques and firearms at the FBI.

Hole has few friends within the Oslo Police Department, exceptions being some staff at the forensics division of the Norwegian police, including Beate Lønn, whom he often uses to secure crucial information in critical situations where specialist knowledge is required, and Bjørn Holm, another skilled forensics officer. Harry is also friendly with Gunnar Hagen, his former senior officer prior to the case chronicled in Phantom.

In many ways, the author's home city of Oslo has the starring role in the Harry Hole novels. Much of the background detail of the stories involves real locations, and the city is shown "warts and all", ranging from Hole's favourite eating and drinking places that he frequents to the traffic of the so-called "Traffic Machine" road system, the real-life headquarters of the Police Department, the swimming pool at Frogner Park, to the haunts of neo-Nazis, drug addicts, and prostitutes, all of this described vividly in the various novels at different times of the year—in the snow and freezing weather of winter to the high temperatures of a particularly warm summer. Harry Hole's friends and acquaintances include city residents from every social background, including immigrants from other parts of the world to old school friends, such as taxi driver Øystein Eikeland—possibly the person with whom Hole is closest.

Harry Hole's home address is in Sofies Gate in Bislett, Oslo. As of the events in Phantom, he no longer lives here, as he has been in Hong Kong for three years. Near his place of residence is his favourite "watering hole", Restaurant Schrøder (Schrøder's, for short) in St. Hanshaugen, which figures in most of the novels. He has had a serious relationship with Rakel Fauke, whose son, Oleg, looks up to Harry as a father figure and sometimes calls him "dad". After the case chronicled in The Snowman, their relationship is put under severe pressure, but at the end of Phantom they resume their romance and finally get married at the end of Police.

"Hole", Harry's family name, is the name of a historic Norwegian town (Hole, Norway), with a heritage that goes back to Norway's origins in the Viking Age. The name is derived from Old Norse Hólar, the plural form of hóll, meaning "round and isolated hill". The word is pronounced as two syllables, with stress on the first (hoo-leh), as is implied in The Bat, where the Australian police call him "Harry Holy".


  • In Flaggermusmannen (1997), translated as The Bat (2012), Hole is sent to Sydney, Australia to aid the Australian police in their investigation of the murder of a Norwegian citizen.
  • In Kakerlakkene (1998), translated as Cockroaches (2013), Hole is sent to Thailand to investigate the murder of the Norwegian ambassador.
  • In Rødstrupe (2000), translated as The Redbreast (2006), Hole tracks an assassin planning an attack on a prominent member of the establishment.
  • In Sorgenfri (2002), translated as Nemesis (2008), Hole investigates a fatal bank robbery and becomes implicated in the apparent murder of an ex-girlfriend.
  • In Marekors (2003), translated as The Devil's Star (2005), Hole investigates a series of serial killings and suspects a fellow policeman of criminal activity.
  • In Frelseren (2005), translated as The Redeemer by Don Bartlett (2009), Hole is on the trail of a Croatian hitman who kills a Salvation Army officer during a Christmas street concert.
  • In Snømannen (2007), translated as The Snowman by Don Bartlett (2010), Hole struggles to identify Norway's first serial killer.
  • In Panserhjerte (2009), translated as The Leopard by Don Bartlett (2011), Hole returns from self-imposed exile in Hong Kong and unofficially investigates a serial killer.
  • In Gjenferd (2011), translated as Phantom by Don Bartlett (2012), Hole again returns from Hong Kong to look into a murder apparently committed by his would-be son, Oleg. His investigation draws him into Oslo's drug scene.
  • In Politi (2013), translated as Police (2013), Hole is needed once again to discover the identity of a serial killer who is stalking the streets of Oslo, killing police officers who previously investigated old cases.
  • In Tørst (2017), translated as The Thirst (2017), Harry has to find a killer who has been hiding for some time, but who has resurfaced and is masquerading as a vampirist.
  • In Kniv (2019), translated as Knife, Harry is waking up with a ferocious hangover, his hands and clothes covered in blood. Not only is Harry about to come face to face with an old, deadly foe, but with his darkest personal challenge yet.

In other media[edit]


The seventh novel in the series The Snowman was adapted as a film in 2017 starring Michael Fassbender[4] as Harry Hole, with Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Ronan Vibert, Val Kilmer and J.K. Simmons.


  1. ^ "A GUIDE TO HARRY HOLE". crimefictionlover.com. March 9, 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  2. ^ Birnbaum, Robert (February 17, 2012). "Crime Pays: Jo Nesbø Talks about Killing Harry Hole and the Best Job in the World". The Millions. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  3. ^ Лаптева, Елена (30 March 2013). "Ю.Несбе: "В каждом из нас есть немного зла"". Комсомольская правда (in Russian). kp.ru. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  4. ^ TRUMBORE, DAVE (September 5, 2017). "'The Snowman': New Trailer Introduces Michael Fassbender's Detective by Name". Collider.com. Retrieved 8 September 2017.

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