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The Bat by Jo Nesbo
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The Bat (original 1997; edition 2012)

by Jo Nesbo

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1,175None6,834 (3.42)79
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Title:The Bat
Authors:Jo Nesbo
Info:Random House Canada (2012), Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:mystery, Scandinavian

Work details

The Bat by Jo Nesbo (1997)

2013 (13) 2014 (7) Aborigines (9) audiobook (7) Australia (64) crime (81) crime fiction (48) detective (31) ebook (17) fiction (96) Harry Hole (79) Kindle (16) Krim (11) Kriminalroman (9) murder (22) mystery (85) norsk litteratur (9) Norway (54) Norwegian (28) novel (10) police procedural (12) read (20) read in 2012 (7) read in 2013 (13) serial killer (11) series (19) suspense (9) Sydney (26) thriller (36) to-read (17)

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English (54)  Dutch (5)  German (4)  Swedish (3)  Norwegian (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (69)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
A Norwegian national is killed while working in Australia and Detective Harry Hole is sent to assist in the investigation. It’s not long before her death is linked to a string of murders and it’s believed a serial killer is on the loose. Can Harry and company track down and stop the murderer before he kills again?

Like seemingly everyone on the planet, I enjoyed Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and after I closed the book on the final novel, I began hearing that this Jo Nesbo guy was someone I should check out. I was hesitant at first as it felt like the publishing world was trying to cash in on Larsson’s success by quickly throwing out the first Scandinavian crime writer (similar to the influx of post-grunge music in the mid 1990s) they found in an effort to capitalize on the public’s newfound interest in Scandinavian crime. On the other hand, maybe it wasn't fair to judge Nesbo so quickly. Maybe this guy is a decent writer. Maybe Larsson opened the door for similar countrymen, giving them an opportunity to shine when the whole world was watching.

After doing a little digging, turns out Nesbo has been around a little longer than Larsson. Larsson’s Salander books hit it big in 2005 and exploded onto the worldwide literary scene in 2008. While Nesbo had been steadily writing his Harry Hole novels since the late 1990s and has achieved great success in his home country, it’s arguable that Larsson’s success played a key role in Nesbo’s breakthrough into the world stage.

When I initially decided to give Nesbo a go, I had stalled right out of the gate. Turns out that the first two novels in the Harry Hole series had yet to be translated to English. Unfortunately, I've never been comfortable with diving into a series with any novel other than the first. So, I waited. Finally, I got my hands on Harry Hole #1 (The Bat) and dug in. Maybe it was the hype or maybe I should have clued in that his publisher had forgone translating the first two novels in favor of starting with book five (The Redbreast) but I came away feeling underwhelmed.

The first half of this novel is hopelessly dull and while Nesbo throws everything on its head midway through, I felt in the end it wasn't enough to save the whole experience. Sure, while the mystery was intricately plotted and I certainly didn't foresee the identity of the killer coming, the whole lead-up to it felt flat and run of the mill.

The book is filled with countless info dumps that I’m not entirely sure are necessary to the story. Not only that, but they weighed down the pacing and were written in an uninteresting manner.

Given all the problems I had with The Bat, I’m still interested in Jo Nesbo. Judging by other reviews of subsequent releases, the series looks like it gets better. While I’m in no rush to get the second book, I can see myself picking it up down the road.

Oh, and Harry Hole.. what an awful name. ( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
Harry Hole is a detective from Norway, but when a Norwegian native is murdered in Australia, Harry must get on a plane to help solve the crime. The Bat is the first novel in the Harry Hole series by Jo Nesbo and it is an introduction to Harry as well as an interesting and twisty mystery. Harry Hole is a chick magnet (and he finds plenty of women who appreciate his good looks in Australia), but he also carries some significant emotional baggage and a history of alcohol abuse. In Australia, he is paired up with an Aboriginal detective named Andrew who also harbors some dark secrets. The plot initially appears simple, and then begins to veer along unexpected paths.

Nesbo explores Aboriginal history and lore, as well as revealing some of the racism that is apparently present in Australian culture towards the Aboriginal people. His characters are well developed and he inserts some black humor into the narrative (although there were times I wondered if the humor I was seeing was real or due to the translation from Norwegian).

The Bat is an engaging first in a series novel that was not without its flaws. At times I found the pace slow, and some of the twists at the end felt a bit contrived. Despite those faults, I did enjoy the book and look forward to picking up the next novel in the series. ( )
1 vote writestuff | Feb 19, 2014 |
I have read a few interviews and reviews of other Nesbo books so I was expecting a certain type of book. It is, however, pretty apparent that this book is still a learning experience since about half of the book is not quite what I expected. The more familiar themes started popping up later.

This book isn't yet worth the reputation that the Harry Hole books have but it shows promise. I will definitely read more but I don't know if one really needs to start with this. Unless the events are pointed to in later books?

I realised next day what the real problem with the book was for me: about half the book felt more like a tourist guide to Australia, or list of places where Nesbo visited while in Australia (he, after all, wrote this book during his vacation there). Just to emphasize this the characters go to great lengths to explain things that have no relevance to the story. It's interesting for a while but ultimately just makes the book longer without adding anything. If I want to read a book about Australia, I much rather read it by someone like Bill Bryson (whose book on Australia is brilliant).

On the other hand this realisation makes the other Harry Hole books more appealing. At least I hope there's less of this stuff in the books that are located in Norway and more of the good stuff that the second part of the book is about. ( )
1 vote Makis | Feb 17, 2014 |
Harry Hole is a pretty complex character. Easy reading. ( )
  sberson | Feb 8, 2014 |
Anything that Jo Nesbo writes is worth reading. In this book, Harry Hole isn't quite the same complex, driven, and damaged character that he is in later books. This makes him a little less fascinating. However, it was interesting to see what happened to Hole that turned him into that man. ( )
  eapalmer | Feb 3, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jo Nesboprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bartlett, DonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Noe var galt.
Something was wrong.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Original title: Flaggermusmannen
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Book description
Harry is out of his depth.

Detective Harry Hole is meant to keep out of trouble. A young Norwegian girl taking a gap year in Sydney has been murdered, and Harry has been sent to Australia to assist in any way he can.

He's not supposed to get too involved.

When the team unearths a string of unsolved murders and disappearances, nothing will stop Harry from finding out the truth. The hunt for a serial killer is on, but the murderer will talk only to Harry.

He might just be the next victim.

Appearing in English for the first time, The Bat is the legendary first novel from the worldwide phenomenon Jo Nesbo.

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Follows Harry Hole's efforts to solve the murder of a television celebrity whose demise is linked to a string of serial killings.

(summary from another edition)

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