Tag Archives: Trafficking

Book Review: Phantom by Jo Nesbo

Title: Phantom
Author: Jo Nesbo
Publisher: Harvill Secker, Random House UK
ISBN: 978-1846555220
Genre: Crime Fiction
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Everyone who was a Swedish crime writer came to front after Stieg Larsson. Stieg’s entry in the popular crime fiction stream through the highly popular Millennium Trilogy paved way for all of them. One of the writers being Jo Nesbo, for which I am glad and thankful.

I have read all the Harry Hole (Nesbo’s protagonist and major detective) novels and been thoroughly entertained by all of them. When I got the opportunity to review Nesbo’s latest Harry Hole novel, “Phantom”, I was ecstatic. Phantom is a riveting read (like most of his earlier books), tightly plotted and fast-paced. The proverbial, never a dull moment is most appropriate to this book.

Harry Hole returns to his home city. Oslo has changed. The drug task force has been successful in erasing the heroin problem from the city. A new drug menace has risen and it’s been delivered by a completely faceless and ruthless gang. The Eastern Europeans are there to stay and aren’t taking no for an answer. Oslo has also had a facelift in its structure. The dirt exists, only needs to be dug deep.

Harry is back and is not wanted or needed anymore. His former girlfriend Rakael’s son Oleg is in trouble. Arrested for murder of his friend Gusto (barely a young boy) and involved with the new drug gang. Harry but of course has taken it on him to save Oleg and find out the real murderer. At the same time, the new gang and the old one do not want Harry alive. It is where the action starts.

The threads are well-connected throughout the book. The book is not cluttered by the over-complication that existed in the earlier books. More so Don Bartlett has provided a brilliant translation keeping in mind Harry’s jokes and the underbelly of Oslo and its description as Nesbo would have originally written.

Phantom’s strength is that it can be a standalone book and readers do not have to refer to the previous Harry Hole books to make sense of what is happening. It is however great to start reading about this detective and what he does right from the beginning to get more perspective. Nesbo’s writing as usual hits the sweet spot of crime and mystery. Phantom is somewhat bleak and realistic portrayal of the drug culture and its impact. The book has clever twists and does not get sentimental, which could have been the danger. It is a captivating read for sure. Top-Drawer.

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Book Review: The Red Market: On the Trail of the World’s Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers and Child Traffickers by Scott Carney

Title: The Red Market: On the Trail of the World’s Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers and Child Traffickers
Author: Scott Carney
Publisher: Hachette India
ISBN: 978-93-5009-351-1
Pages: 241
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Let me make you aware right at the outset: The Red Market is not going to be an easy read. If you are looking for something nice and warm and mushy, then don’t even pick it up, however if you want to know reality and what goes unnoticed and unseen, then this is the book you must read. Through ten detailed, sometimes nauseating chapters (trust me at one point I thought I would throw up), Scott Carney removes the mask from the many layers of exploitation, experimentation, harvesting, and piecemeal selling of humans and human organs.

Targeted subjects include: the organ harvesting of corpses; the selling of kidneys and lungs and the thin red line of social acceptance it has reached in certain provinces in India; the kidnapping and subsequent cross-continental adoption of children from third world nations; the pharmaceutical practice of using willing human guinea pigs to test potentially dangerous new medicines; and even the growing market for real human hair.

I was astounded on reading some of the chapters. To know what takes place behind the curtain is discomforting for sure, however this kind of education is much needed. Carney an investigative reporter is allowed that insider’s perspective into the on-goings of the market of organ trafficking and selling. The book is full of individuals whose lives have literally been taken from them – who have been coerced into selling their blood (drained almost), women and men who owing to circumstances have no choice but to sell their kidneys and other body organs, of parents whose child is taken away from them (in the name of adoption) and settled in America, only to be abused for work.

The writing is frank and not for once does Carney mince his words. He tells it the way it is even if it means that readers have to squirm at the thought of it. It is not easy to take note that even during the age of globalization and policies and procedures, there are brokers who are adept at finding loop holes in the system – from selling of organs to surrogate pregnancies to stealing babies. Carney also takes a close look at the underlying issues – the anonymity in organ donation (which works best for the middlemen), the nature of fluctuating demand where growing technology is concerned and the relationship between the free market and the individual’s choice or the lack of it.

Carney writes in first-person, making you feel that you are right there as the events unfold. The reading is not difficult – it is simply written. Just that I had to pause several times while reading it, so I could move on with it, considering the topic. Scott Carney has done an outstanding job with this book. He has unearthed the darker side of humanity and the extent to which human beings reach the bottom-most level. He asks difficult questions for which there are no answers. The Red Market is a gripping account of an invisible crime wave that lurks between us and wings itself in every medical breakthrough. It will make you wonder and think a lot about the issue on hand, probably not the way that you would have earlier.

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