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179 of 183 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
When I first read "The Redbreast" I assumed that it was the first in the Harry Hole series, only to discover there were mentions of past events in the life of character Harry Hole that suggested earlier books. In fact the English publisher had opted to publish the third book in the series first, leaving the first two books - The Bat and The Cockroaches - untranslated into English. Therefore, if like me, you hate reading series books out of order, you will be glad that The Bat has finally arrived.

Harry Hole is in Sydney to investigate the murder of Inger Holter, a Norwegian citizen working in Australia. Inger was young, blonde and she was found dumped in Gap Park, having been raped and strangled. As Inger was a minor television celebrity in her home country, having hosted a children's television programme a few years previously, the case is considered important enough to have aroused interest in Norway's press. In this book we discover much about Harry's character, as he investigates a possible serial killer. Admittedly, I can understand the publisher wishing to begin the series with another book - in many ways this is pretty standard fare, and the digressions in Aboriginal culture and folk tales are, frankly, pretty boring in parts. However, there is much in this novel which is good, the plot is fast paced and Andrew Kensington, an Aboriginal detective, is a great side character. More to the point, this is the starting point of the series and, as readers, we should be given the chance to read them in order and not have publishers decide how and when we can read them. I hope they will publish the second book in the series as quickly as possible in English, so readers of the series can read them completely in the order the author intended.
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107 of 114 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
Like most fans of Nesbo's addictive Harry Hole series, I was looking forward to reading this long-delayed English language translation of the first HH novel. Even though the main character is Norwegian, this story takes place in Australia. Sort of a weird touch, but actually the "foreign" setting is one of the strengths to this story. All in all, this is not a bad read, but many elements aren't up to par with the later novels in Nesbo's series. For example, the dialogue isn't as sharp, the characters are a mixed bag as far as believability (the Aboriginal characters are well done, whereas the other police officers come off mostly as buffoons), and the plot loses some focus along the way. At one point --- or two --- I thought the story was about to come to its climax, but then it went on and on again. All in all, this one lacked the suspense and tension of the other novels and just didn't grip me as much. By no means awful, but clearly the work of a writer that hadn't quite found his groove yet. Most fans of the series will find some enjoyable elements to this story, but if you haven't read the others in the series I don't think you should necessarily start with this one simply because it was the first one.
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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Jo Nesbo left me hanging at the end of the previous Harry Hole novel - Phantom. Phantom was the 9th book in this Scandinavian series that features the conflicted and complicated Detective Hole. But the first book - The Bat - that introduces us to Harry is only now newly released in North America. You can bet I jumped at the chance to read it!

Harry is sent to Australia to assist with a murder investigation as the victim was a Norwegian national. But the local cops define 'assist' differently.

"What you're gonna do is watch carefully while we haul the bastard in, tell the Norwegian press along the way what a wonderful job we're doing together - making sure we don't offend anyone at the Norwegian embassy, or relatives, - and otherwise enjoy a break and send a card or two to your dear Chief Constable."

Harry is not the focus of the first part of the book. Instead we are introduced to Aussie detective Andrew, who has a sense of where he wants the investigation to go. Andrew was a strong personality and I felt slightly overwhelmed by this character. Nesbo weaves much Aboriginal history and lore into the narrative, which I found really interesting. It also added much to the plot.

Harry and his personality begin to emerge slowly as the book progresses. I was hoping that Nesbo would allow us some insight as to where Harry's tortured psyche springs from and I wasn't disappointed. And, as the case develops, the Harry that I've come to enjoy so much emerges. The character of Harry has been refined and darkened and sharpened over the course of the next eight books, but in The Bat we meet a raw, wounded version of the detective to come. One with "a weakness for living."

But, what hasn't changed is Nesbo's plotting. The Bat is an excellent detective novel that provided a 'kept me guessing' plot with lots of suspects to choose from. Reading the first in this series just confirmed why I have Jo Nesbo and Harry Hole on my must read list. Nesbo combines fantastic characters, great plotting, lots of action and suspense and yes, social commentary into addictive reads.
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147 of 166 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I first fell a little in love with Harry Hole with the first Nesbo book I read, The Snowman. Ever since then, I've been devouring all his books. This one, The Bat, was not available in the US, so I had it shipped to me from the UK. I'm so glad I did! This story takes place Down Under, where a Norwegian woman on visa in Australia has been murdered. Harry is sent there to "observe", which is made clear to him by the Sydney police chief. This, of course, Harry takes to mean get right down in it. His Aboriginal "partner", Andrew, shows him around town and brings him to all the particular places involved in the investigation. Something is not quite right, Harry discovers. At the bar where the murdered girl worked, he meets a Swedish woman and immediately clicks. After interviewing her, he can't help but turn himself around, go right back in and ask her to dinner! Loved the tender scenes between these two. And, Harry reveals things about his "first love" as well. Bodies turn up and Harry turns on the heat, as well. His mind works far faster than any of the other investigators and he is soon laying a trap. But, will the trap backfire on Harry and his new love?
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I have read all Jo Nesbo's books, and couldn't wait when I saw that the first Harry Hole "The Bat" was finally translated. Wow, I think I know why it took so long to be available. I am only half way through and am really thinking seriously of not finishing it. It is badly written, filled with really unrelated drivel and reads more like a schoolboy (or girl) writing. The characters do not ring true and Harry's stupid actions made me cringe. Being an Aussie the descriptions of places I know were good, but this is a detective novel, so help me, not a travelogue. I know Jo Nesbo visited Australia and obviously loved it, but this story is a MAJOR disappointment - not sure I will bother to finish it - which really is something for me. Lack of disciplined storytelling and self indulgent drivel - all I can say is I am glad I read the others first otherwise I would never have picked up another Nesbo......guess what, I couldn't finish it - I found myself skipping great lumps just to get to the end but then thought - why bother....Sorry Jo
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I am so glad that I read this book, The Bat, after I had read all the other Jo Nesbo books. If I had read this one first, then I would have given his subsequent books a miss.
There are several inaccuracies about location; people in the city hardly use that type of Aussie slang, it is more confined to the rural areas or 'the bush" and The Dreamtime stories are used as padding and seem to have very little relevance to the denouement of the novel.
The characters aren't as well developed or complex as in his other books.
All in all a huge disappointment.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 20, 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
While The Bat is the first book written by Jo Nesbø chronicling the cases of Norwegian police detective Harry Hole (pronounced HOO-leh), it is the seventh to be published in the United States. At an author event a couple years back Nesbø explained that the decision to release the books out of order was made by the publisher who thought it best to release the books in the order that they thought would most appeal to American readers.

I never agreed with this logic.

Until now.

Jo Nesbø is one of my favorite authors. I've been hooked on his books ever since reading The Devil's Star, one of his earlier U.S. releases. His raw and edgy writing is as compelling as it I disquieting. His plotting, while requiring some suspension of disbelief, is original in his later books.

Sadly, this cannot be said about The Bat. The plot is not unlike a typical television mystery show where the police bounce from suspect to suspect, making foolish mistakes that cost people their lives before finally figuring out who the killer is. In the real world, such blunders by a policeman would be career-ending at best. In The Bat, Harry is in Sydney, Australia, helping the police there find the killer of a minor Norwegian celebrity. The fact that she is a celebrity appears to serve no purpose other than to explain why the Norwegians sent one of their officers half way around the world. When he arrives in Sydney Harry is told in no uncertain terms that his role would be as an observer but from that point on his behavior is more lead detective than observer.

The setting is another problem. The story reads like a book an author would write after returning from an Australian vacation. It includes a lot of information about Australia and its people that, while interesting, belongs more in a travel guide than in a police procedural. I can understand that Norwegian readers would find a Norwegian detective's impressions of Australia interesting. As an American, though, I am more interested in a Norwegian detective's impressions of Norwegians. I suspect that this was part of the reasoning behind publisher's decision to release the books out of order. After Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, Scandinavian crime fiction was a hot item and Nesbø was an established and award winning author. While The Bat does feature a Scandinavian policeman, its Australian setting isn't exactly what the publishers were looking for. They therefore chose as their first offering to their American readers a Nesbø book where Harry Hole sticks closer to home.

On a positive note, Nesbø's skill at developing characters was well developed even in his first book. We learn much about Harry's back-story and his struggle with alcoholism. Nesbø just as ably fleshes out the other characters so that the reader is likely to overlook weaknesses in the plot and keep reading to find out what happens to the characters.

The bottom line is that Jo Nesbø is a very talented author but that he had a bit of a learning curve to go through before hitting his stride. If The Bat were the first of his books that I read, I probably would not have read any others. Fortunately, though, my first introduction to Jo Nesbø came in a later book. I strongly recommend Jo Nesbø's books but The Bat is not the best place to start if you want to get a good appreciation of his talent.

* The review copy of this book was obtained from the publisher via the Amazon Vine Program.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Hard book to pick up, I took 3 weeks to finish reading it. As an Australian I did not believe a lot of the references, very cliche. Would not recommend this book. I enjoyed other books by this author but not this one.
Diane
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I'm a great fan of Jo Nesbo, but there's a very good reason it took so long to translate this first novel into English...it's a shocker. The plot, characters and dialogue are a mishmash of poorly researched, cliché-ridden stereotypes. The attempted retelling of Aboriginal Dreamtime stories is patronizing, ill-informed and tedious. In fact I would go so far as to say that many indigenous Australians will find it offensive. This book should have been sentenced to life without parole in Norwegian. Thankfully Nesbo eventually learned how to write.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I have read most of the Nordic mysteries, some of them quite predictable and not too well written. Joe Nesbo's The Bat makes the most boring ones worthy of a literature prize.
The Bat is a story of a Norwegian detective sent to Sydney to help investigate the death of a Minor Norwegian celebrity. In the process, he meets characters who could have been interesting had they been better developed by the writer, and learns aboriginal lore to resolve the death as well as several connected murders.
The plot is very predictable, characters could have been very fascinating if properly developed, the drunken stupors seemed irrelevant, and many situations seemed improbable.
I would not recommend this book to anyone.
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