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The Bat: Harry Hole 1 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.
Winner of The Riverton Prize (Rivertonprisen) for Best Norwegian Crime Novel of the Year
Winner of The Glass Key (Glasnyckeln) for Best Nordic Crime Novel of the Year
"For fans of uber-cool Jo Nesbo, The Bat is a must-read, but...also a great place to start on one of the 21st century's most thrilling Scandinavian crime series." TVNZ (New Zealand)
"His novels are maddeningly addictive: be prepared for more whirlwind rides through those unpronounceable Scandinavian street names." Vanity Fair
"With his labyrinthine, shiver-inducing plots, full-blooded characterizations and uncanny sense of mood and place, Nesbo is simply a master storyteller." Winnipeg Free Press
"Jo Nesbo is my favorite thriller writer and Harry Hole my new hero." Michael Connelly
"This is crime writing of the highest order, in which the characters are as strong as the story, where an atmosphere of evil permeates, and the tension begins in the first chapter and never lets up." The Times (UK) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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I enjoyed this book because Hole is a flawed yet lovable character that you can not help but root for. He is intelligent and has an interesting backstory. I also enjoyed how many other characters Nesbo gave us and how dense the suspect pool was. I figured out who the killer was pretty early on but was still keen to finish the book because I wanted to see how Hole would catch them. I also really enjoyed Nesbo's vivid descriptions of Australia. Nesbo's Australia felt very well researched and also well understood.
I am late to the party with the Harry Hole series and because of this I am able to read them in order as all the books in the series have now been translated. I am aware that quite a number of loyal fans more familiar with the series are of the opinion that this is the worst book in the series and advise newbies to give it a miss. Admittedly, it's not the best detective novel I have ever read but it is entertaining and I am looking forward to watching Nesbo and Hole develop as author and character respectively.
In The Bat, Harry is dispatched to help solve the murder case of Inger Holter, a young Norwegian woman. With the backdrop of Australia, Harry and his investigative team attempt to trace down evidence and clue that lead to the identity of the murderer.
Many reviewers who dislike the book complain about the incessant asides from characters about Australian travel or culture that seem a tad too forced. While characters seemingly breaking into spontaneous monologues about myths, legends or folklore was a bit distracting, it was not my biggest complaint. My biggest complain stems from a rather lackluster leading character in Hole--who comes across as unsympathetic and without much substance-- and a rather ridiculous direction to the novel. By all means a character can have faults (in fact, this is what gives them substance), but I felt a sense of indifference to Harry the further I read into this book. As far as the direction the book takes, it ventures into an absurd level of over the top action/violence that borders on silly and a general convolutedness that seemingly takes over the novel in the final stretches. And the ending alone, I mean, come on.
Something tells me the overall negative consensus for this book could be due to either a translation issue with this book, or simply that Nesbo was trying to find his footing with this character and the series.
At any rate, as the novel wore on, I like it less and less. I’ll probably have to wait before trying to pick it up again, but I do hear good things about The Snowman.
There’s certain bleakness to The Bat, but not a bleakness that has much dimension. It’s just bleak, period.
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.