Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Bat by Jo Nesbo

In Nesbo's first Harry Hole mystery, Hole, goes to New South Wales, Australia, to discover why a fellow Norwegian and gap-year student, Inger Holter, was murdered. 

The local police chief, Andrew Watkins, immediately tries to undermine Hole. Harry is told to take a vacation--enjoy the food and scenery--while the locals do the actual investigation. Naturally, Harry does the opposite, immersing himself in the case.

Readers are introduced to the flawed hero, Hole, who is a reformed drunk as well as many quirky characters. Andrew Kensington is an ex-hippie and ex-boxer while Otto Rechtnagel is a clown who discusses politics. 

Local detectives and Harry Hole, argue whether Holter's death is a random killing or the work of serial killer. 

Aboriginal myth pervade the story, including the "bat" of the title which is the aboriginal symbol of death.  In the aboriginal stories, the bat is called Narahdarn and plays an important part in their dreamtime myths.

Thoroughly enjoyable, The Bat has a fast-paced plot and a detective who makes intelligent observations and somewhat erratic decisions. I like the Norwegian title (Flaggermusmannen) better than the prosaic-sounding title in English (The Bat).

A BBC interview with Jo Nesbo below: