Harry lost his mother, a descendent of the Sami people, to cancer while he was in his twenties, and he has never had a close relationship to his father Olav Hole, who is a teacher. Harry has an older sister with Down syndrome.
Two of Hole's partners are killed in the line of duty during the series of novels. Proving that a highly regarded colleague is actually corrupt and responsible for the first of these murders becomes at some point Hole's main mission in life.
Harry Hole's home address is Sofies gate in a part of Oslo called Bislett. Close by is also Holes favourite "watering hole", Schrøder's Cafe.