The Bat


Jo Nesbo


Mystery / Thriller


Date Reviewed:

July 19, 2014

he Bat is the first novel in a series about Norwegian detective Harry Hole (pronounced "Holy"). The series is hugely successful, perhaps even more famous than The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series. I was happy to get my hands on this book and hoped to discover a new series worthy of all the acclaim. What I discover instead is just an average story that has some HIGHLY unlikely sequences - the last abduction by the killer is so implausible (how could the police be so stupid?) as too ruin the tension. The murder by "The Bat" - that also is impossible to accept as a plausible event. It seems that a lot of the scenes are rigged from maximum visual drama (perhaps with an eye toward an eventual movie deal) while the reader is supposed to just go along with all of the events.

Harry ends up in some violent encounters which ought to place him in hospital bed for a few months, but he keeps trundling along. The descriptions of alcoholism are well portrayed, and were perhaps the most interesting thing about Harry's character, but I don't think I could read a whole series of books if he keeps drinking like this. Indeed, how would a drunken Harry even function, let alone solve complex crimes?

I liked the other characters in the book a lot, even more than I liked Harry himself. Andrew Kensington is an aborigine who works as a detective on the Sydney police force, he shows Harry around the crime scenes and introduces Harry to some of the locals. Evan White is a wonderful portrait of a creepy, dangerous drug dealer. Toowoomba is a boxer who is an "adopted son" of Andrew. In the park, Harry meets Joseph, an alcoholic ex-skydiving coach. The life-story Joseph tells rings so true that I assume Jo Nesbo adapted it from a real life experience. Birgitta is a Swedish witness that Harry falls in love with, and she seems like a beautiful authentic character. Nesbo does characters well.

The story takes place in Australia. Harry is a Norwegian detective, but he has flown to Sydney to help out with a case of a minor Norwegian celebrity who was murdered there. Despite my complaints about the improbability of the crimes and subsequent violent events, there are some clever clues that Harry figures out that I admired. Over all, this a good read.