How to Read Jo Nesbø Books in Order | The Ultimate Guide

Jo Nesbø is a Norwegian author that writes exciting thrillers. His books were originally written in his native language, but have since been translated into English. You’ve probably read at least one of them if you’re here looking for a list of Jo Nesbø books in order.

Jo Nesbø’s books are engaging and a international sensation. One of the characters, Harry Hole, is a complex one and, for many readers, an ultimate detective, brilliant, and a fascinating anti-hero. 

Join the fun as you travel with Harry all through Oslo to Australia and Thailand in this international series that is worth the read.

Who is Jo Nesbø?

Jo Nesbø was born in 1960 in Molde. He grew up and attended the Norwegian School of Economics, where he graduated with a degree in Economics and Business Administration.

Today this Norwegian-born wears many hats as an author, musician, economist, former soccer player, reporter, and TV producer. Nesbø is most famous for the Harry Hole series, but he also writes children’s fiction books (the Doctor Proctor Kid series) and more crime novels. 

He is also the main vocalist and songwriter for the Norwegian rock band Di Derre.

How to read Jo Nesbø Books in Order

Let’s take a look at the best way to read Jo Nesbø books in order by series. These are the Harry Hole novels, Doctor Proctor Kid series, and the author’s standalone novels.  The best way to read all these books is to follow the publication order within each series.

Jo Nesbø Books in Order – Harry Hole

  1. The Bat (1997)
  2. Cockroaches (1998)
  3. The Redbreast (2000)
  4. Nemesis (2002)
  5. The Devil’s Star (2003)
  6. The Redeemer (2005)
  7. The Snowman (2007)
  8. The Leopard (2009)
  9. Phantom (2011)
  10. Police (2013)
  11. The Thirst (2017)
  12. Knife (2019)

Jo Nesbø Books in Order – Doktor Proktor

  1. Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder (2007)
  2. Bubble in the Bathtub (2008)
  3. Who Cut the Cheese? (2010)
  4. The Magical Fruit (2012)
  5. The Great Gold Robbery (2013)
  6. Silent (but Deadly) Night (2016)
  7. Can Doctor Proctor Save Christmas (2017)

Jo Nesbø Standalone Books

  1. Headhunters (2008)
  2. The Son (2014)
  3. Macbeth (2018)
  4. The Kingdom (2020)
  5. The Jealousy Man and Other Stories (2021)

Blood on Snow Books

  1. Blood on Snow (2014)
  2. Midnight Sun (2015)

Summary of Harry Hole Books in Order

Jo Nesbø’s most prolific series follows the main character, Harry Hole, in these epic thrillers that are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Below is a brief summary of all the Harry Hole books in order.

The Bat Jo Nesbø Books in Order

1. The Bat

Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad travels to Sydney to observe a murder case. Harry is free to offer assistance, but he has firm instructions to stay out of trouble. The victim is a twenty-three year old Norwegian woman who is a minor celebrity back home.

But never one to sit on the sidelines, Harry befriends one of the lead detectives. As well as 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.


Cockroaches Harry Hole Books in Order

2. Cockroaches

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. He passes 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 Jo Nesbø

3. The Redbreast

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. To a time when members of the nation’s government willingly collaborated with Nazi Germany. 

More than sixty years later, this black mark won’t wash away. 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.


Nemesis Harry Hole

4. Nemesis

Detective Harry Hole must use his maverick methods once again as he investigates a slew of brutal bank robberies and the suspicious suicide of a female artist.

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 twenty-five. 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 former girlfriend Anna Bethsen, Police Detective Harry Hole wakes up at home. He has a headache, no cell phone, and no memory of the past twelve hours. The same day, Anna is found shot dead in her bedroom, making Hole a prime suspect in the investigation led by his hated adversary, Tom Waaler.

Meanwhile, the bank robberies continue with unparalleled savagery. It sends 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 Jo Nesbø Books in Order

5. The Devil’s Star

In the heat of a sweltering Oslo summer, a young woman is found murdered in her flat. One of her fingers is cut off and a tiny red star-shaped diamond is found 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. He is 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. He must make difficult decisions about a future he may not live to see.


The Redeemer

6. The Redeemer

Christmas shoppers stop to hear a Salvation Army concert on a crowded Oslo street. A gunshot cuts through the music and the bitter cold. One of the singers falls dead, shot in the head at point-blank range.

Harry Hole is the Oslo Police Department’s best investigator and worst civil servant. But he has little to work with: no suspect, no weapon, and no motive. But Harry’s troubles will only multiply. As the search closes in, the killer becomes increasingly desperate, and Harry’s chase takes him to the most forbidden corners of the former Yugoslavia.

Yet it’s when he returns to Oslo that he encounters true darkness. Among the homeless junkies and Salvationists, eagerly awaiting a savior to deliver them from misery. Whether he brings new life or immediate death.


The Snowman Harry Hole Books in Order

7. The Snowman

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.


The Leopard Jo Nesbø

8. The Leopard

Inspector Harry Hole has retreated to Hong Kong. He is 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. But 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 then take over, and nothing can keep him from the investigation. Even though there is little to go on.

Worse, he will soon come to understand that he is dealing with a psychopath. Harry will be put to the test, both professionally and personally, as never before.


Phantom Harry Hole

9. Phantom

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. It 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.


Police

10. Police

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 Jo Nesbø Books in Order

11. The Thirst

The murder victim is 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.


Knife Harry Hole Books in Order

12. Knife

Harry Hole is not in a good place. For 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. 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.

Because then Harry wakes up the morning after a drunken night with blood that’s clearly not his 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.


Conclusion

Now you’re ready to read the Jo Nesbø books in order, which will be a delightful reading experience.

While many English-speaking fans had to read the books out of chronological order for the first time due to the publication order of the translated editions, this is no longer a problem.

Like many thriller series, each book tackles a new case, so it is possible to read the books in a different order from the original publication order and still enjoy the world Nesbø has created. However, your reading experience will be greater if you choose to read the books in the original publication order.

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