Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Bat (Harry Hole, #1)The Bat by Jo Nesbø
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"The Bat" is the first book in Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole series, but the English translation was first published several years after Nesbo's later novels. It is not as good a novel as the outstanding "Redbreast" nor is it as interesting as "The Snowman". Still, I like it better than the horrid "Phantom" (which I reviewed on Goodreads).

Harry Hole is sent to Sydney, Australia, to help investigate the murder of a minor Norwegian TV celebrity. He is teamed with an Aboriginal detective and the novel tells us quite a lot about indigenous Australians and the race relations in the country. Harry travels a lot while working on the case and much of the book is about the Australian society.

There are several memorable passages; for instance the story about a local boxing tournament in a small town or fragments about Hole's youthful love affair with Kristin. The Harry and Birgitta story is interesting and believable. We learn a lot about events in Harry's early life. On the other hand, the characterizations of his Australian colleagues are paper-thin. There is a bit too much cheap philosophizing and the purpose of including several Aboriginal legends is not clear - they must be metaphors for something, but for what?

I am unable to evaluate the writing as I have read the book in a non-English translation. The narration reads OK, but the dialogues sound awkward, which might have been the translator's fault. I am rounding my rating up, but "The Bat" clearly does not reach the three-star level.

Two and a half stars.

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