Series: Harry Hole #1
Published by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard on July 2, 2013
Narrator: John Lee
Length: 9 hours, 39 minutes
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The electrifying first appearance of Jo Nesbø’s detective, Harry Hole.
Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad is dispatched to Sydney to observe a murder case. Harry is free to offer assistance, but he has firm instructions to stay out of trouble. The victim is a twenty-three year old Norwegian woman who is a minor celebrity back home. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Harry befriends one of the lead detectives, and one of the witnesses, as he is drawn deeper into the case. Together, they discover that this is only the latest in a string of unsolved murders, and the pattern points toward a psychopath working his way across the country. As they circle closer and closer to the killer, Harry begins to fear that no one is safe, least of all those investigating the case.
I had heard mixed reviews on the beginning of the Harry Hole Series before I picked it up. Some people said The Bat by Jo Nesbo wasn’t great and recommended skipping the first few books in the series. Some recommended starting at the beginning, knowing that it would get better with the progression of the series. I knew I wanted to read the books, especially with The Snowman movie being released, but I just couldn’t bring myself to start reading mid-series. I had to start at the beginning. I’m so glad I did because I liked this one.
Harry Hole is a Norwegian police detective that is sent to Australia after a Norwegian girl is found dead. He is supposed to assist with the investigation and keep himself out of trouble while he is there. When he arrives in Sydney, he is paired with an Aboriginal man named Andrew Kensington and the two begin their investigation.
I love Harry. He is flawed, and then flawed some more. Harry has a work history that isn’t exactly squeaky-clean but he is very good at his job. I love detectives that blur the lines between their work and their private lives. Harry got into some big trouble in the past because of some of his own issues, and this has followed him around since that time. I’m curious to see if this is an issue that works itself over the course of the series or if Harry’s demons are with him for the long haul.
I’m not entirely 100% sure why people dismiss this book so quickly. I wonder if it is because they’ve started with later books that are more developed because they author had gained more writing experience by then, and then they read this one and it felt “less good” to them? If that’s the case, then okay, but l’m excited about the prospect of the series becoming better and better as I read.
The Bat was really enjoyable; I can’t imagine skipping it in favor of later books. I feel like having this experience with Harry was valuable to see how he performs under pressure and because of his past. I also like seeing him work in a setting that is foreign to him (i.e., Australia vs his native Norway).
There are a few things about this book that make it a weaker than some others that I have read lately. Harry’s adventures in Australia are pretty weird and the trail that leads to the killer is full of odd details. Clowns, gay bars, aboriginal mythology – some of these things felt less-than-cohesive at times, even though the author did eventually weave them firmly into the story. Also, the ending was, just – sigh. I wasn’t expecting it to end like that, and I wonder how this outcome will affect Harry (if at all).
I’ve already gotten Cockroaches (Harry Hole #2) from the library in both physical copy form and audiobook form. I’m ready.
When I saw that John Lee narrates The Bat audiobook, it was a no-brainer that I wanted to listen to it and OH MY GOSH, this was such a great decision. First of all, John Lee is one of my favorite male narrators because he’s just awesome. Second, he was essential for me (a native Eastern North Carolinian) to be able to hear the pronunciation of most of these Norwegian and Australian accents and words. ESSENTIAL. Often when I read and listen to a book, I will alternate some of the chapters – audiobook, then physical copy, audiobook, then physical copy, etc. Not in this case. I listened to this book, word-for-word, in its entirety, as I followed along with both a paperback copy and a Kindle copy. I loved the audiobook that much.
I would wholeheartedly recommend listening to this book whether people plan to follow along with the print or not. If – for nothing else – John Lee’s accents. He narrates the second book in the series too and I’ve already gotten it from the library.