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The Bat: The First Harry Hole Case Paperback – 2013
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*Starred Review* When Nesbø’s Harry Hole novels began appearing in the U.S., the Oslo police detective was well into his spiral of alcoholic self-destruction. With the recent appearance of earlier books in the series (The Redeemer, 2013), fans have been able to catch up on the backstory that put Harry in such a bad way. With the U.S. publication of this series debut, we see still more of the detective’s evolution. In Australia as a consulting detective on a murder case in which the victim is a Norwegian native, Harry does what will eventually become his signature: spotting the signs of a serial killer at work and following a convoluted trail with an obsessiveness that puts not only himself but all those around him at risk. Reading this wrenching, emotionally charged tale, which features a fascinating take on the lives of Aboriginals in contemporary Sydney, with full knowledge of what awaits Harry in succeeding, similar cases over the years, we find ourselves wanting to scream, “No, Harry, not again!” But, in fact, this is the first time he loses himself in the chase, inflicting lasting, self-administered body blows on his fragile psyche, and while the chronological confusion is disconcerting, it adds a layer of dramatic irony to the tale and enhances its tension and power. With the future of the series still up in the air after Phantom (2012), this is an absolute must for devotees of the riveting train wreck that is Harry Hole. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Any Harry Hole novel is big news in the crime-fiction world, and this retrospectively published series debut will thrill its built-in audience. --Bill Ott --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
A USA Today Critic’s Pick
“This is an absolute must for devotees of the riveting train wreck that is Harry Hole. . . . While the chronological confusion is disconcerting, it adds a layer of dramatic irony to the tale and enhances its tension and power.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“Harry is already every bit as volcanic as in his later cases. The big difference is Australia, which Nesbø, seeing it through the eyes of both a tourist and a cultural pathologist, makes you wonder how much different it is from Norway after all.”
"This debut effort shows Nesbø as an already confident genre craftsman, striking sparks from the familiar genre material of Harry’s fish-out-of-water experience in a foreign land and odd-couple pairing with a mismatched partner."
Advance praise from the U.K.
“Even with this first book Nesbø’s command of the idiom is completely in place—there is absolutely no sense that the writer was finding his feet and aficionados will be very pleased to slide this on to their bookshelves alongside the other Harry Hole novels.”
--The Daily Express
“It is fantastic to see a younger Harry, a more loquacious Harry. . . . [Nesbø is] a terrific writer who knows how to build a story, taking you slowly to the top of a rollercoaster before sending you hurtling towards a solution that you never see coming.”
“Nesbø is already taking on the clichés, ruthlessly tearing them apart and coming up with new riffs. . . . Most satisfyingly, we can now see the organic shape that Nesbø always intended his work to take.”
--The Independent (London) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.