Book Review: The Bat

THE BAT | Jo Nesbo
(Harry Hole #1)
07.02.2013 (first published 1997) | Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Rating: 4/5 stars


Inspector Harry Hole has been sent to Sydney, Australia to investigate a series of murders. It appears that someone is hunting young, blonde-haired women. The latest victim is a twenty-something Norwegian woman names Inger, who is something of a celebrity in her home country. Harry instantly assimilates himself into the Sydney police force. Instead of sitting ideally by while they investigate, he fully submerges himself in the case.

The bat is the aboriginal symbol for death.

As Harry works to track this serial killer he begins to build relationships with those around him. He and the lead detective, Andrew, instantly form a bond, and it is through Andrew that Harry will ultimately be able to discover who is behind these murders. As Harry gets closer to the killer, it becomes clear that no one is safe. Harry is never one to back down, but how far is he willing to go to catch this killer?

You’re a tiny but damaged every time you unravel another murder case. Unfortunately, as a rule there are more human wrecks and sadder stories, and fewer ingenious motives, than you would imagine from reading Agatha Christie.

Last year I had the absolute pleasure of reading THE SNOWMAN and getting my first introduction to Harry Hole. I knew instantly that I wanted to go back and start the series at the beginning. It only took me a year to get my act together! There are a contingent of people who seem to believe that THE BAT is one of the slower books in the Harry Hole series, so I was a bit concerned. I actually found myself loving this book! THE BAT was such an exhilarating experience and a fantastic way to meet Harry Hole. I definitely had a lot of questions about Harry when I read THE SNOWMAN and I can easily assure you that this book provides an intriguing backstory, while not detracting from the overall case that Harry is working on. Nesbo does a brilliant job of weaving Harry’s life into what is happening around him.

In traditional crime fiction every detective with any self-respect has an unfailing nose for when people are lying. It’s bullshit! Human nature is a vast impenetrable forest which no one can know it’s entirety. Not even a mother knows her child’s deepest secrets.

Another element that I thought made THE BAT an excellent read was the inclusion of Aboriginal mythology. I haven’t read that many books set in Australia and I certainly don’t know much about the cultural history of the country, so this element enhanced the story for me. Whenever I read a Jo Nesbo book I always find myself sucked into the story right away and THE BAT was no different. Throughout the story I was invested in the case,learning more about Harry, and the journey to catch the killer. I think THE BAT is a great launch to this series and I am so excited to see where it goes next! I plan to tackle COCKROACHES next month, so be sure to follow along on my journey with Harry Hole!


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