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Harry Hole #1


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Politimannen Harry Hole er i Sydney for å bistå australsk politi i etterforskningen av drapet på en ung norsk kvinne. På sin vei gjennom lysskye miljøer treffer han horer og halliker, transer, klovner og pushere. Og noen aboriginer, Australias urinnvånere. Harry Hole har reist så langt vekk fra Norge som det er mulig å komme. Saken er komplisert, og i den blinde nattejakten på morderen har han bare svake ekko å navigere etter.
«Flaggermusmannen» er den første boken om Harry Hole, og den ga forfatteren både Rivertonprisen og Glassnøkkelen for årets beste skandinaviske kriminalroman.

339 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1997

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About the author

Jo Nesbø

155 books20.3k followers
Jo Nesbø is a bestselling Norwegian author and musician. He was born in Oslo and grew up in Molde. Nesbø graduated from the Norwegian School of Economics with a degree in economics. Nesbø is primarily famous for his crime novels about Detective Harry Hole, but he is also the main vocals and songwriter for the Norwegian rock band Di Derre. In 2007 Nesbø also released his first children's book, Doktor Proktors Prompepulver.

* Harry Hole
* Doktor Proktor

For exclusive content about Jo Nesbø and his books, register for the official fan newsletter: https://jonesbo.com/newsletter/

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,574 reviews
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,482 reviews79k followers
September 28, 2017
I know that the first two Harry Hole books are generally the least popular of the series, but I couldn't be persuaded to jump in at book three and altered my expectations accordingly. While I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that I've not experienced this character or series before, I actually loved THE BAT! Perhaps it was having the opportunity to learn Hole's backstory and read the books in their intended order, or maybe simply the fact that I don't know any differently, but I was in the mood for a slow burning police procedural and that's exactly what I got.

The overall feel of the story reminded me a bit of Ragnar Jonasson's Dark Iceland series, except the setting was drastically warmer. I really appreciated the severely flawed nature of Harry and his past which has shaped who he has become up until this point. The mystery kept me guessing and I did not have any of it figured out prior to the reveals, which was a nice change of pace. I'm not really sure why the first two books are set outside of the intended long term atmosphere of the series, but it works well for me so far, and even though everyone and their mother has told me to skip COCKROACHES, I'll be reading it solely just to gain whatever information there is to glean from it.

I would say if you haven't read any books in the Harry Hole series, take a gamble and risk a bit of time and energy on THE BAT. I can see how trying to come back to this book might be a chore after beginning with the others, but it was refreshing and exhilarating to read these in their natural order and learn Harry's backstory in its initial form. Highly recommended to fans of Nordic Crime Fiction in the form of a police procedural!

*Thanks Abby for helping my pick this one out!
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
July 28, 2019
”A sudden, uncontrollable fury rose in him, and he cast around for something to smash. He snatched the whiskey bottle from the table and was about to launch it at the wall, but changed his mind at the last moment.
Lifelong training in self-control, he thought, opening the bottle and putting it to his mouth.”

 photo TheBat2_zps01299094.jpg

As you read this novel you are going to realize just how much sarcasm is loaded into that statement. Harry Hole, pronounced Hoo-leh, is dispatched to Sydney Australia to investigate the murder of a Norwegian woman. He soon discovers with the help of the Australian half caste Aboriginal officer, Andrew Kensington, that this murder is not an isolated case. The victim is one of a string of blond women who have been killed over a series of months.

This is a different Harry Hole than the man that shows up in Redbreast and Nemesis which are number three and four in the series. Because the American publisher decided to publish those books before publishing The Bat I started the series in the middle. I rarely do that. I usually insist on reading a series from the beginning because I find in later books there are generally significant revelations that may harken back to an earlier book in the series. In this case instead of ordering an intensive Rosetta Stone course on learning Norwegian I decided to suspend my controlling need for order and read book three first.

 photo JoNesbo_zpsef48f6eb.jpg
The Jo Nesbo Invasion

I now understand why the US publishers elected to start with book three. We have been experiencing an invasion of Scandinavian mysteries similar to the invasion of Rock and Roll from England in the 1960s. You can’t swing a backpack in a bookstore anymore without knocking down a display of the latest author to be touted as the new Stieg Larsson. I too have been seduced by the work of our Nordic neighbors. In this book Hole spends the entire time in Australia, so introducing this regionally misplaced character to a reading public desperate for a new mystery from the frozen North doesn’t really work. Now that his works have been doing very well in the English speaking world publishers have decided to go back and publish the first two in the series.

His Australian colleagues call him Holy instead of Hoo-leh and Harry makes the decision that Holy isn’t too bad and doesn’t bother to correct their pronunciation. He prefers it to being called something most people associate with an orifice.

He meets a lovely Swedish girl named Birgitta. Everything is going well between them until Harry falls of the wagon. Andrew Kensington ends up dead and even though Harry only knew him a week they had become good friends. Harry wraps both arms around the shock and the grief of his friend’s passing. Resuming drinking is an allure he can no longer ignore. Now there are drunks and then there are Harry Hole drinking binges.

”Harry woke with a splitting headache. The light hurt his eyes, and no sooner had he registered that he was lying under a blanket than he had to throw himself to the side. The vomit came in quick spurts and the contents of his stomach splashed on the stone floor. He fell back on the bench and felt the gall sting his nose as he asked himself the classic question: where on earth am I?”

During the times that he is halfway sober he continues to investigate the serial killings and the death of Andrew Kensington. The more he finds out about Kensington the more secrets that are revealed. These shrouded bits of information lead to more secrets and many of them seem to involve a friend of Andrews, a German gay man named Otto. He is a friendly chap and Harry soon learns just how friendly.

”Let’s make a tasteless and wonderfully vulgar wager, “ Otto said, his eyes glinting with amusement. “I bet one hundred dollars that this soft, slim hand of yours will have felt my vitals before you leave for Norway. Do you dare to accept the bet?”

Harry loses this bet, but you will have to read the book to find out how.

The more Harry drinks the more maudlin he becomes. He seems to be punishing himself for past crimes (which are revealed in vivid detail in this book). The death of Kensington brings back the past, but it seems drinking himself into a staggering state of ineptitude is not enough. He decides to hire a hooker and of course he gets caught by Birgitta. One must destroy one’s life completely before one can make better decisions it seems. I only wish that Birgitta would have hopped the next flight out of there back to Sweden or Paris or Timbuktu anywhere to get away from Harry.

Harry without barely a shred of evidence makes suppositions that are not only incorrect, but turn out to be colossally wrong. As he should be, he is a much better investigator in later books. He is more violent and reckless as a young man. Aren’t we all? I spend a large part of this book not liking Harry very much. We do, though, see glimmers of the seasoned cop he will become.

”Does this remind you of anything you’ve seen before?”
Andrew shrugged. “When you’ve worked here long enough all murders remind you of something you’ve seen before.”
No, Harry thought. It’s the other way round. Work long enough and you see the tiny nuances each murder has, the details that distinguish one from another and make each one unique.

 photo TheBat_zps10f08be1.jpg
I was fortunate enough to get my books by Jo Nesbo signed when he was in Houston recently.

This book has a nice twisty plot and certainly kept me turning the pages. I didn’t mind spending time in Australia even though if I’d been able to step into the book I certainly wouldn’t have spent any time with Harry. I prefer spending my vacations not wringing vomit out of my clothes. I do wonder if reading a couple of the later books didn’t add to my enjoyment in reading this book. I meet the older Harry and then meet the younger Harry several years later. It made me appreciate the man, still flawed, but maybe not as much so, that Harry becomes a few books later. He still gets in trouble with his superiors. He still screws up relationships, but I feel more sympathy when it happens to the older Harry. 3.5 stars.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Profile Image for Federico DN.
396 reviews801 followers
July 16, 2023
A very disturbed serial killer, and an even more problematic detective.

In this first novel of the series we learn the beginnings of the enigmatic Harry Hole, a renowned but highly problematic detective from Oslo, Norway. A rape and murder of a norwegian citizen takes place in Sydney, Australia. The indecipherable detective is sent as support to carry out the investigation. But one murder turns into many, and a simple investigation quickly turns into a desperate hunt for a very disturbed serial killer, that threatens even the ones closely involved in the police investigation.

Harry Hole is a sort of anti-hero detective. Which works quite well, in contrast to the complete perfectionism of Sherlock Holmes. He pretty much screws up as much as he solves, but in the end the guy kind of grows on you. Looking forward to reading the next installment.

Very interesting for various reasons. Intriguing, gripping. Not nearly as gripping as was reading 'Snowman', but still a highly enjoyable read. It left me with some very nice moments (and others not so nice) and several things I know I will not soon forget.

[1997] [369p] [Crime] [Recommendable] [Birgitta <3]

★★★★☆ 1. The Bat
★★★☆☆ 2. Cockroaches
★★★★☆ 3. The Redbreast
★★☆☆☆ 4. Nemesis
★★★☆☆ 5. The Devil's Star
????????? 6. The Redeemer
★★★★★ 7. The Snowman


Un muy perturbado asesino serial, y un incluso más problemático detective.

En esta primera novela de la serie conocemos los principios del enigmático Harry Hole, un destacado pero altamente problemático detective de Oslo, Noruega. Una violación y asesinato de una ciudadana noruega sucede en Sydney, Australia. El indescifrable detective es enviado como soporte para llevar a cabo la investigación. Pero un asesinato se convierte en varios, y una aparentemente simple investigación rápidamented se convierte en una desesperada caza de un muy trastornado asesino serial, que puede llegar a amenazar incluso aquellos más cercanos a la búsqueda policial.

Harry Hole es una especie de detective anti-heroe. Lo cual funciona bastante bien, en comparación con el completo perfeccionismo de Sherlock Holmes. Arruina casi tantas cosas como las que resuelve, pero al final el personaje termina agradando. Viendo con buenos ojos leer el próximo libro.

Muy interesante por muy diversas razones. Intrigante, atrapante. No tan atrapante como fue la experiencia de leer "Snowman", pero igualmente una lectura muy disfrutable. Me llevo varios buenos momentos (y otros no tan buenos) e incluso algunas cosas más que sé que no voy a olvidar.

[1997] [369p] [Crimen] [Recomendable] [Birgitta <3]
Profile Image for Noeleen.
188 reviews142 followers
November 12, 2012
As a huge fan of Jo Nesbo and the Harry Hole series, I waited eagerly, like many other fans, for The Bat, the first book in the Harry Hole series, to finally be translated into English. It was like waiting for Santa to arrive on Christmas Eve and deliver that wonderful present that you are hoping you will get, the pure excitement of it all! Unfortunately, Santa didn’t deliver that wonderful present in the form of The Bat, instead of receiving that perfect present, Santa delivered to me (oh the disappointment)..... a pair of socks...which is the equivalent of what this book ended up being; basic, practical and not very exciting. This book was a huge disappointment. I’m really glad that I wasn’t able to read this first book in the series until now. I wouldn’t have continued with the series if this had been the case and would have missed out on all of the rest of the wonderful Harry Hole books.

In The Bat, Harry finds himself in Australia when a young Norwegian girl is murdered and he assists the Australian police with the case. While the book served its purpose in giving us the background to Harry, this was the only good thing about it. I much prefer Harry working in Norway on home ground. There was a lot of Australian and Aboriginal history in the book which in itself was very interesting and I learnt a lot, but it wasn’t necessary to the story at all. In addition, there were many times when the book went off with reminisces of Harry’s past relationship and this really happened at odd times in the book and it too was unnecessary. These aspects of the book seriously ended up taking away from the momentum, pace and interest in the main plot which in itself was mediocre at best. At times I almost forgot about and lost focus on the main plot because of the way the story went off course throughout.

It’s very obvious from the writing and plot in The Bat that this is a debut novel and that it is the first book in the series. It’s also evident now how much better the books become in the later works. I’m still a huge fan of Jo Nesbo and the Harry Hole series, from The Redbreast through to Phantom, each one of them has kept me very entertained, I’m just not a fan of this book. I don’t like giving one of my favourite authors, Jo Nesbo, a negative review and I can’t believe I am giving one of his books only two stars but this book just didn’t work for me. I would recommend reading the series from book three, The Redbreast. You don’t really need to read this book to enjoy the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Evgnossia O'Hara.
102 reviews206 followers
January 8, 2018
Review was originally published on Through the Chapters|Blog

*3,5 stars*

“I have an idea for Harry’s life, for what is going to happen to him. Harry’s near future looks bleak. After that it’s getting even worse. And after that everything is going to hell”
-Jo Nesbø interview, January 2010


This is the major reason I’m rating the first book with 3.5 stars. The second reason, equally important, is the connection that I had with the main character from the very first page. Harry Hole, pronounced as Hoo-leh, is a young innocent guy, with good intentions, even if sometimes he behaves in irrational patterns. In other words, when he faces impediments which he cannot control he falls under the influence of alcohol. This decision automatically activates a domino effect and things coming to fall apart.

“The human soul was a deep, dark forest and all decisions are made alone”
–The Bat

He is determined that he can do nothing to transfigure the unfortunate events that keep haunting him and therefore he resort to beverage not to comfort himself as he might believe but mostly to punish himself for the past he cannot change, for the lies he had to tell, for the love he had lost.


The first installment in the Harry Hole series, “The Bat”, provides the readers with background information of Harry’s life. It gives some very significant insights into the emotions, the inner world and a past that made him a person he is now. It was a little bit slow with many information about the Aboriginals in Australia, but it didn’t destroyed the main purpose of the author, to introduce us this young, impulsive cop who came to investigate the murder of his compatriot. Moreover, the fact that he gets involved with a potential witness proves again his young age and inexperience, a detail that pictures him as an innocent guy with a sombre past and a darkness that everyone hides inside.

Moving on, I appreciate the author’s boldness and the moments where he isn’t intimidated to cauterize his main character.

“A sudden, uncontrollable fury rose in him, and he cast around for something to smash. He snatched the whiskey bottle from the table and was about to launch it at the wall, but changed his mind at the last moment. Lifelong training in self-control, he thought, opening the bottle and putting it to his mouth.”
– The Bat

In addition, I have to acknowledge the aboriginal myths which Nesbø has incorporated into this novel. It was very enlightening and frustrating at the same time since everyone had to tell his myth to Harry to give him a clue about who the murderer might be.

In the first chapters Hole states that: “You’re a tiny bit damaged every time you unravel another murder case” , something that works as a prophecy to the development of his personality in the next stories, and connects with the statement of Jo Nesbø himself, who prepares a hell ride for his hero. Forthwith, the first case of Harry Hole, functions as a very good baseline for the next stories and I’m eager to dive into them in order to travel with him through his intimidating life path.


I can’t wait for it!

What do you want people?

I have this dark side inside me, I never denied it.

Profile Image for Baba.
3,619 reviews985 followers
September 12, 2021
The first Harry Hole case, which was not translated into English until 2013, sees Harry begin his series investigating the murder of a Norwegian woman in Australia. A bit of a continuity nightmare for readers with many of us having read his later cases first, so I found this a difficult debut to fairly judge, as I went into it with a lot of Harry Hole foreknowledge which nullified a lot of the mystery and questions about his personal life and police career. Still very easy to read for Nordic Noir and an interesting case. 7 out of 12
Profile Image for Matt.
3,821 reviews12.8k followers
December 9, 2015
In my other binge-reading project of the winter, I thought that there was no better time to explore the Harry Hole series by Norwegian Jo Nesbø. I had heard much about the series, and with a keen interest in all things Scandinavian when the thriller genre is involved, I thought I could do no wrong. As the series begins, Harry Hole (that's two syllables, Holy) finds himself in Sydney, Australia where he's been sent to represent the Royal Norwegian Police Directorate to investigate the murder of a Norwegian national. Working alongside some of Sydney's finest, Hole discovers that there may be a serial rapist and murderer on the loose, whose penchant for blondes leaves a trail that grows every few days. Alongside the murder investigation, Hole discovers a woman who pulls on his heartstrings and becomes an integral part of his time in Oz. The reader is also introduced to Hole's checkered past, including an addiction that almost got him fired from the force and one that reemerges at the worst possible moment. With no firm leads and Hole's secondment running to an end, a serial killer continues to elude the authorities and baffle Hole to no end. While soaking up the history of this foreign land, Hole may be too distracted, which hinders his ability to bring answers to a grieving family back in Oslo. In this series debut, Nesbø tells a very interesting tale, both about his protagonist and the race for justice.

I was pleasantly surprised at Nesbø's work and found that the story flowed very effectively, full of wonderful tidbits to lure the reader in a little deeper. Harry Hole is a complex man, whose background is multi-layered and will likely take the entire series to unravel. However, Nesbø does a stellar job by paving the way with a thorough glimpse into the man's foibles, as well as the strengths that shape him. I cannot leave this review without pondering a glaring question that leapt off the page for me, especially as a reader who loves to immerse myself in a character. Why would Nesbø choose to use his opening novel and take Hole away from his native Norway? I could see this in the third or fourth novel, but the story begins and remains in Australia for its duration. I could never fully understand this, as it makes logical sense to lay some groundwork before taking the character out of his environs. Allow the reader to learn about local friends and family, plant roots before jetting off to places unknown. That said, perhaps Nesbø has a plan here and I am too cerebral in my analysis this early in the series.

Kudos Mr. Nesbø for a great opening novel. I cannot wait to get deeper into the series to see what else you have in store for us.

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Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
March 10, 2019
The Bat, by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo is the first of the Inspector Harry Hole (pronounced Hoo-leh) novels.

Set in Australia of all places, Nesbo introduces our hero as a foreign policeman sent on a diplomatic mission to assist with the investigation of the murder of a minor Norwegian celebrity in Sydney. The novel starts slowly but builds to an exciting, if somewhat minimalistic, and troubling, ending.

Nesbo does an above average job of introducing an array of characters and develops some intriguing dynamics and complexities for Hole. For a crime mystery, Nesbo also shows a flair for Holmesian attention to detail and logic. There are some inconsistencies and some loose ends but I can understand how this character and this series have become so popular.

I will read more from Nesbo.

Profile Image for Suz.
1,158 reviews606 followers
May 2, 2017
A very different experience this one was for me. Harry 'Hoo-ley' is an experienced detective with a story of his own to tell, bought out to Sydney, Australia to assist Australian Police in a murder of a Norwegian woman. The poor man is called Harry Holy by everyone, he's given up on correcting people. An interesting one here as this is a Norwegian writer delving strongly into Aboriginal culture, and even re-telling some dream time stories. I am not at all good at concentrating at the best of times, so I really do feel this was my undoing. I did not feel a connection with Harry, and although the narrator did quite an outstanding job of flicking between male/female/drag queen and Aus/Aboriginal/Norwegian accents, it did come across a little 'okka'. I think this author is worth investigating, but possibly not on audio, at least for me. The Australian imagery was great, I think Jo Nesbo creates a lovely scene. As for the rest of the series being for me? Not sure.
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 9 books6,943 followers
July 20, 2013
This is the book that introduced Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad--or it least it would have been had not several of the later Harry Hole novels reached the U.S. ahead of it. The wait is finally over, though, and The Bat is now at last available in a U.S. edition.

It seems a bit odd that the first book in a series featuring a Norwegian police inspector would be set in Australia. Nonetheless, that's the case. A young Norwegian woman who had been something of a minor television celebrity back home, has been raped and murdered in Sydney. Harry is sent to Australia to act as a liasion with the Sydney police in the investigation. His instructions are clear: he is to be an observer and he is not to actually meddle in the investigation. The Sydney police clearly expect that Harry will spend most of his time seeing the sights and will be content to go home and report after a few days at most.

Even if you've never read another Harry Hole novel, if you've read any crime fiction at all, you know that's never going to happen. From practically the moment he arrives in Australia, Harry develops his own ideas about the case and is anything but shy about pursuing them.

The principal merit of this book is that the reader gets to meet a younger Harry Hole and to learn a bit more about his background. The case itself is intriguing and Harry meets a number of interesting characters along the way. If there is a problem with the book it rests with the fact that Nesbo spends quite a bit of time as a tour guide and cultural anthropologist, exploring the land, its mysteries and its peoples, and sometimes the travelogue gets in the way of the story itself.

Actually, The Bat seems more like one of those books that you would find much later in a series, at a time when the author has begun to run out of ideas and so sends his character off to an exotic land to mix things up a bit--and, not incidentally, to give the author a great vacation that he can deduct as a business expense.

Still, though it's not up to the standards of some of Nesbo's later Harry Hole novels, this is a fun story with a lot of unexpected twists and turns. And for those of us who are compulsive completists when it comes to our crime fiction, it gives us the chance to finally start reading this series in order. The problem remaining is that the second book in the series, The Cockroaches will not be released in the U.S. until December. At that point, all of the Harry Hole novels will finally be available here and all will be right with the world.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
September 13, 2021
Flaggermusmannen = The Bat (Harry Hole, #1), Jo Nesbø

The Bat is a 1997 crime novel by Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø, it is the first book in the Harry Hole series.

Norwegian police officer Harry Hole is sent to Sydney, Australia to serve as an attache for the Australian police's investigation into the murder of a young female Norwegian girl residing in Australia, Inger Holter. Her boyfriend, Evans White, is initially approached as a suspect.

Hole is assisted by Aboriginal colleague Andrew Kensington; together they find out that they are dealing with a serial killer who strangles blonde women.

Hole befriends a red haired Swede named Birgitta.

As the story becomes more complex, Hole struggles to find the killer and falls deeper into alcoholism.

There are more back stories about Harry's past and culture in Australia.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش

عنوان: ��فاش کتاب نخست از سری کارآگاه هری هوله؛ نویسنده یو نسبو؛ مترجم رودابه جم؛ ویراستاران فرشته ابراهیمی، فروزان سلیمانی؛ تهران، نگارش الکترونیک، 1397؛ در 464ص؛ شابک 9786008299783؛ 1398؛ در 350ص؛ شابک 9786227033069؛ چاپ دیگر در سال موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان نروژ - سده 20م

عنوان: خفاش؛ نویسنده: یو نسبو ؛ برگردان: عباس کریمی‌عباسی؛ ویراستاران شیرین شکراللهی ، نهال غفوری؛ تهران، چترنگ؛ 1398؛ در 438ص؛ شابک 9786226220057؛

کتاب «خفاش»، اثر «یو نسبو»، نویسندۀ «نروژی»، نخستین رمان از سری رمان‌های «کارآگاه هری هوله» است؛ «هری» به «استرالیا» فرستاده شده، تا روند پژوهش در پرونده ی تجاوز وحشیانه، و قتل «اینگر هالتر»، زن جوان «نروژی» را، پیگیری کند، او به یاری سایر افسران پلیس «استرالیا» بسیار زود پی می‌برند، که مرگ «اینگر»، بخشی از سری قتل‌های حل‌ نشده است، که در ادامه، به شکل‌گیری تعدادی مظنون، و رویدادهای تکان‌دهنده، در رمان می‌شود؛ «یو نسبو» در کتاب «خفاش» برای نخستین بار «هری هوله» را به خوانشگران خویش معرفی می‌کند و با ظرافت قلم خویش، شخصیت‌هایی را می‌آفرینند تا در پیشبرد رویدادهای داستان جالب‌ توجه و تأثیرگذار باشند؛ «یو نسبو» در این اثر، در کنار ماجرای قتل، به زیبایی، برخی از جنبه‌های تاریخ اجتماعی، و سیاسی «استرالیا»، از آنجمله سیاست‌های نژادی، و درگیری‌های تاریخی، میان بومیان «استرالیا» و سفیدپوستان مهاجر از «انگلستان» به این منطقه را، با واژه های خویش به تصویر می‌کشند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 21/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Peter.
472 reviews2,555 followers
August 11, 2019
The Bat is the first book in the Harry Hole series and while this was an average story it did establish the character that has since gone on to facilitate some very engrossing thrillers. This book had too many plot holes and a constant question of why start a series about a Scandinavian investigator travelling to Australia. I can only presume that Jo Nesbo felt his home location may not have provided the most appealing setting for his debut. Perhaps my criticism is influenced by knowledge of how the series subsequently developed. It is clear that Jo Nesbo has an eye for suspense, surprises and a deadly killer.

There is a lot to play within the Harry Hole character: his alcoholism, his psychological burdens, his maverick approach and his romantic entanglements. If he'd had military training and an ability to mince everyone that would have been a step too far on the bad boy superman hero front. What is actually good is that he IS found wanting on the fighting side, which is more realistic than typical main characters and often finds himself in the wrong place.

The plot was slow particularly in the first half and the ending was a bit overdramatic. I'm finding it difficult to recommend this book although it is the first in the series and maybe a necessary step to enjoy some of the following great books.
Profile Image for Brian.
707 reviews354 followers
November 24, 2018
“I think our common sins in many ways bound us closer together.”

“The Bat” is the fourth novel of Jo Nesbø’s that I have read, but the first one in his Harry Hole series. To me it reads like a first book. Norwegian police inspector Harry Hole is dispatched to Australia to work on the case of a murdered Norwegian citizen, and we are off to the races.
Many of the reviews I saw for this text say how genre busting this novel is. I disagree. This text features an alcoholic detective (will he fall off the wagon?…spectacularly) a woman the detective starts sleeping with (will she survive the book?…duh) and coworkers (do they know more about the case then they can say?…duh again). These are not criticisms on my part by the way, they make for fun reading, but “The Bat” is a basic detective crime noir novel, nothing more.
Stylistically the text is very abrupt. A scene just ends, and then a new chapter begins with a different focus, or one further down the road of the story then the reader was last engaged with. It did not bother me, but I have some friends who hated that about the book. There are also some eye rolling moments in the story, as I think Mr. Nesbø seems to enjoy shock value. I have noticed this feature in every book of his I have read.
I do not think “The Bat” is particularly good, or bad. It kept me entertained while ocean waves roared outside the window. I can’t complain about that. There are moments that the writing brings up some intriguing thoughts about human nature, etc. The chapters are short and move quickly, and once I was about 50 pages in the book, I could sit and read for a stretch at a time.
I purchased the first and second book in this series together, so I will read Harry Hole #2, but unless something really grabs me I can’t say I will continue the series past that. We will see what happens…
Profile Image for Beatriz.
834 reviews720 followers
January 19, 2021
Un comienzo bastante digno para una serie que, por lo que he leído, mejora notablemente en sus próximas entregas. Por lo mismo, lo sentí como un libro más bien introductorio, que ocupa varias páginas en presentarnos a su personaje principal, Harry Hole, un policía noruego, que lucha permanentemente para mantener controlado su problema de alcoholismo (no siempre con mucho éxito, la verdad).

Respecto de la historia, hasta la mitad del libro se siente bastante simple; una investigación que avanza sin muchos sobresaltos por diferentes localidades de Australia, hasta donde llega Harry para colaborar con la policía australiana en la resolución de un caso de violación y asesinato de una ciudadana noruega residente en Sidney, que en el pasado había logrado cierta fama animando programas infantiles. En esta primera parte se disfruta mucho el relato de varias leyendas del pueblo aborigen australiano, principalmente narradas por Andrew, el compañero asignado a Harry por la policía local y que, al menos para mí, se roba el protagonismo de la novela.

Sin embargo, pasada la mitad, la historia da un giro inesperado y la acción toma un ritmo realmente frenético que hace difícil despegarse del libro. Llegando a las últimas páginas, algunas cosas fueron bastante obvias, pero otras las sentí un poco deux ex machina, que la verdad no me gusta mucho como recurso literario.

De todas maneras, lo recomiendo sobre todo para continuar la serie y entender mejor los demonios de Harry Hole.

Reto #5 PopSugar 2018: Crimen negro nórdico
Profile Image for Kostas Papadatos.
51 reviews21 followers
January 21, 2018
Ο Χάρι Χόλε βρίσκεται στην Αυστραλία για να βρει το δολοφόνο μιας νεαρής Νορβηγίδας που δολοφονήθηκε στο Σίδνεϋ… και πέρασε καταπληκτικά. Έφαγε, ήπιε, χόρεψε, σεξ έκανε, σεξ επί πληρωμή επίσης, για τους αβορίγινες έμαθε, θρύλους και μύθους τοπικούς του διηγήθηκαν, τη χλωρίδα και τη πανίδα γνώρισε και επειδή το βιβλίο έφτανε στο τέλος του είπε να ασχοληθεί και με την υπόθεση.
Άντε και του χρόνου διακοπές στα νησιά του Πάσχα.
Μέτριο βιβλίο και ψιλοβαρετό για όλους τους παραπάνω λόγους. Το δεύτερο μισό ήταν κάπως καλύτερο.
2.5 αστεράκια.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,529 reviews979 followers
February 14, 2018

"You're a tiny bit 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. At first I saw myself as a kind of knight dispensing justice, but at times I feel more like a refuse collector"

If you are into gloomy police procedurals there's no better place to go than Scandinavia. These writers would make even sunny, laidback Australia look like a dismal place filled with existential dread. Detective Harry Hole is sent to Sidney to assist the local police investigating the murder of a young Norwegian girl. Pretty soon it becomes apparent that what appeared initially as a straightforward mugging on a dark street is in fact the work of a serial killer that has flown under the radar for many years. Like a bat, the Aboriginal symbol of death. Harry finds himself partnered with Andrew, an Aboriginal man who managed to integrate himself in the white society and to become a police officer.

To have survived for so long there's nothing random about it. There is a pattern. There's always a pattern. Not because you plan it, but because all humans are creatures of habit, there's no difference between you and me and the rapist. It's just a question of finding what this particular creature's habits are.

The investigation has many of the classic elements of a police procedural: the disillusioned detective that is too stubborn to give up, the slow accumulation of evidence, the interviews with the witnesses, the stakeouts – all of it building up towards a final showdown between the killer and the policeman. Yet Jo Nesbo, even in this first book in the series, shows that he can take a classic tale and make it his own, give it that personal touch that will soon make him a bestseller author.

Violence is like Coca-Cola and the Bible. A classic.


I read "The Bat" after I started the series with the third book "The Redbreast". I find the later book to be better written and better plotted, but I am glad I went back to the beginning. This trip to Australia did feel sometimes like a tourist brochure, but it is also the Origin story of the lead character in the series. We are given a lot of background information of what makes Harry Hole tick, going all the way back to beautiful memories of a fjord valley in Romsdalen, a youthful romance on a roadtrip through Italy, what turned him into an alcoholic and how the booze made him a pariah at a very young age.

The book also reads a lot like a movie script for a big budget production, which is not a bad thing in itself (it just feels a tad contrived). I wish Hollywood would make fewer remakes and sequels of superhero movies and tap into some of these well plotted action thrillers. There are enough red herrings thrown at the reader to make Agatha Christie jealous. She's already mentioned by Harry, because there's a major difference between her cozy mysteries and the blood-soaked, shockingly personal trauma that defines a Harry Hole investigation.

Another thing worth mentioning, because I want to avoid talking about the actual plot, is that Nesbo did his homework on Australia thoroughly. Sidney and the countryside comes alive under his pen as Harry checks out burlesque shows, amateur boxing, aboriginal homeless, drug dealers, the gay community, the beaches, the Aquarium, (not the Opera House, though), skydiving and rock festivals. I may have skipped some of the sights, but I recommend checking the book for yourself.

I plan to continue reading the books in the order they were published, even if each of them is structured to function also as a standalone.

Profile Image for Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling.
1,141 reviews119 followers
May 28, 2013
My View:
I am a Jo Nesbo fan. I have read all his other books in the Harry Hole series and mostly have been very impressed with the action, the narrative, the character development, the intrigue and the resolution. This book however is an exception to the series. It is banal, its language wooden, stilted and as an Australian reading Hole’s experience of his adventures in Sydney, Australia and of Australians, I generally felt let down and uncomfortable with the stereotypes and colloquialisms - of big waisted, slow witted, “dinkum” white Aussie males and the Indigenous cop’s voice felt stunted and farcical too – continually explaining the world in Dream-time stories and explaining everything very carefully... all the Australians had a dumbed down quality I did not like and I did not appreciate reading this interpretation of Australia and Australian life. (I did however enjoy the Dream-time stories perhaps worthy of a book in their own right but not relevant in this book) The political voice in this book was ...annoying.
The first 160 odd pages of this book were flat, dull, convoluted and clumsy and did I mention far fetched and I could not stretch my imagination to believe the premise of the murders and the police procedures or rather the lack of procedure and lack of professionalism. How disappointing. This is the first book I have read on NetGalley where after 50 pages I thought I would just not bother to continue, that my time was being wasted trying to find something interesting or redeeming in this book. Stupidly I continued on. The story did not improve – it worsened becoming more incredulous and bumbled along with the addition of masses of blood and gore and torn apart limbs and should have been read whilst listening to the theme track of JAWS!
Jo Nesbo – I am glad some publisher somewhere saw the potential in your writing – I did enjoy your other books in this series but think that the publisher did me a favour by not translating this first novel of the series any sooner – if I hadn't read this book at all I would be perfectly happy and not felt as if I had been cheated of a potentially great read.

Do your self a favour - skip this book and read the others in the series.
Profile Image for Salamon.
95 reviews39 followers
June 3, 2023
گروهی معتقدند که این کتاب به عنوان اولین جلد این مجموعه‌ی کارآگاهی و معرف کارآگاه هری هوله (به قول استرالیایی‌های داستان هولی) مقداری شلوغ و مشوشه. این درسته و من به همین دلیل بیشتر ازش خوشم اومد؛ چرا که این سرگشتگی در خدمت عمق بخشیدن به درک ما از شخصیت هریه و اتفاقا برای جلد اول تکنیک مناسبیه تا در نهایت ما هر حرکت و تصمیم کارآگاه رو در روشنایی‌ نوری که اینجا نویسنده بهش تابونده ببینیم.

از این ضعفِ از نگاهِ من قوت که بگذریم، دو ویژگی دیگه‌ای که این داستان رو یه سر و گردن از خیلی از داستان‌های جنایی دیگه‌ای که من خوندم بالاتر قرار میدن یکی رنگی از فلسفه‌ی زندگی در مسیره و دیگری حضور پررنگ قصه‌گویی تمثیلی که واقعاً برای من تکنیک جذابیه. کتاب از نگاه کاراکترای مختلف به ارزش و معنی زندگی نگاه میکنه. شاید همیشه واضح و رک و راست نباشه ولی همین جالب‌ترش میکنه چون اکثر ما واضح و رک و راست درد وجودیم رو بیان نمی‌کنیم. همچین تمثیل‌های بومی استرالیایی که به داستان هم رنگ میدن و هم رمزگونگی به کشش اون کمک میکنن گرچه به نظرم اگر نویسنده با ظرافت بیشتری در روند قصه اون‌ها رو تفسیر می‌کرد بهتر بود.

در نهایت شاید عجیب باشه که من به هوای غرق شدن در سرمای اسکاندیناوی دوباره سراغ نسبو رفتم ولی با گرمای نفس‌گیر سیدنی مواجه شدم و با وجود این کتاب به هیچ‌وجه مایوسم نکرد. موضوع اینه که هوله نه تنها ابرقهرمان نیست که از بعضی جهات از آدمای معمولی هم نقاط ضعف بیشتری داره و از اون بدتر خیلی با سلیقه‌ی موسیقیاییش هم ارتباط برقرار نمی‌کنم. گرچه اخیراً به این برخوردم که الزاماً شباهت‌هایی که من می‌بینم برای بقیه ملموس نیست بازم این خبط رو می‌کنم و میگم که کاراکتر هوله به صورت رقیقی من رو یاد ایده‌ی جیمز باند ناقص انداخت. جیمز باندی که گرچه اقبال عمومی بهش کم بود یکی از محبوب‌ترین باندهای من شد چرا که هم انسانی بود و هم باورپذیر. اشاره‌ی من به فیلم On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) عه که تنها باریه که کاراکتر باند رو جرج لزنبی بازی می‌کنه.

در هر صورت با اظهار تأسف از اینکه جلد بعدی مجموعه رو ندارم باید بگم که اگه مایلید چیزی متفاوت رو در این ژانر امتحان کنید، خفاش گزینه‌ی مناسبیه.

بریده‌هایی از کتاب


"《و چقدر زمان لازمه تا یکی رو بشناسی؟》
《می‌دونی هری، اگه از بیراهه‌های یک جنگل وسیع و تاریک بری، خیلی طول نمی‌کشه. بعضی آدم‌ها راه‌های صاف و چراغونی با تابلوهای راهنما دارن. اون���ها همه‌چیز رو بهت می‌گن، اما باید حواست جمع باشه، چون حیوون‌های جنگل رو می‌تونی توی بوته‌های تاریک پیدا کنی، نه در مسیرهای روشن.》
《و چقدر طول می‌کشه که پیداشون کنیم؟》
《بستگی به جا و جنگلش داره. بعضی از جنگل‌ها تاریک‌ترن.》
《اون‌وقت جنگل تو چه‌جوریه؟》
سیگار را در کشور کنار تخت گذاشت و نگاهی به هری کرد و گفت:
《تاریک مثل سیگار مادورا، اما انگار تو یه چیزهایی فهمیدی.》"

"   هزار و پانصدمتری.
   شاید کریستین انتخاب درستی کرده بود. قوطی خالی قرص‌ها شاهدی بر آن بود که او تردیدی برای انجام این کار نداشته است و یک روز به هر حال باید تمام می‌شد؛ یک روز وقتش می‌رسید. احساس نیاز به ترک دنیا با شیوه‌ای خاص که نشان از پوچی داشت و فقط عده‌ی کمی از انسان‌ها از این ضعف برخوردار بودند.
   بقیه ضعف زندگی کردن داشتند. ساده و بدون پیچیدگی. خب شاید هم خیلی ساده و بی‌پیچیدگی نباشد؛ ولی حالا دیگر همه‌ی آن‌ها در فاصله‌ای خیلی دور زیر پایش بودند.
   دقیقاً هزار و دویست متر پایین‌تر. دسته‌ی نارنجی‌رنگ سمت راست شکمش را گرفت، بند را با چرخشی محکم کشید و شروع کرد به شمردن: هزار و یک. هزار و..."
Profile Image for Ken.
2,206 reviews1,329 followers
April 27, 2020
The first in the Harry Hole series which sees the detective sent to Australia to help assist in a murder inquiry of a young Norwegian student whilst on a gap year in Sydney.

Like many it was the adaptation of 'The Snowman' that alerted me to these stories, but that's the 7th book in the series.
I've finally gone back and brought the earlier ones, as I'm a stickler for reading in the correct order.

While the case isn't the strongest we really get a good idea of Harry's flawed character, straight from the opening chapter we are presented with him frantically trying to find his Visa at passport control.
His unconventional and flawed, we see him struggling with his demons as he turns to the bottle.

It's quite nice to have some foreknowledge that the series will get better, so took this as an opportunity to get to know our main character as the case itself felt secondary at times.
Through the murders were gruesome and dark!

I think its telling that the first two books were the last to be translated, but there's promising signs that I'm going to love the rest of the series and enjoyed many aspects of this debut.
3.5 Stars.
Profile Image for Tim Null.
131 reviews78 followers
October 19, 2022
I read Jo Nesbo when I should have been reading Henning Mankell. Some people never learn nothing.
Profile Image for Juli.
1,899 reviews490 followers
April 25, 2018
I really want to watch the movie The Snowman, based on a Harry Hole book by Jo Nesbo. But I have a rule...if a movie is based on a book, I have to read the book before I watch the film. There is a bit of a problem with that rule sometimes. I am a bit OCD when it comes to reading a series. I always have to start at book 1 and read through in order. The Snowman is book #7 of #11 in the Harry Hole series...so I have a bit of reading to do before I can watch the film.

Jo Nesbo is Norwegian, and his Harry Hole series was not translated into English in order. The first book, The Bat, was written in 1997. But it wasn't published in English until 2012. From what I read, the delay is probably because the novel is set in Australia, not in Oslo as the later books. The second book, The Cockroaches, was also not translated until many years after it's publication in Norwegian. The second book is set in Thailand, as Harry Hole is sent there to assist in a murder investigation. So, technically a reader could jump in on book 3 where Hole is at home in Norway. Word is that the books set in Norway are better. I can't be a judge of that since I haven't read them yet. I'm reading in order.....it's just my way.

The basics: Norwegian detective Harry Hole is sent to Sydney, Australia to help investigate the murder of a Norwegian woman, Inger Holter. Australian officials don't really want his help, but he digs into the case anyway. He's paired up with an Aborigine detective, Andrew Kensington. Hole (pronounced Hole-y) finds that there are similar killings of other blonde women, turning the investigation into the search for a serial killer.

If I had to judge the Harry Hole character from this first book....I would have to be honest and say he's pretty unlikable. He makes some really crappy decisions in this first book...from falling off the wagon and making a total drunken ass of himself on more than one occasion to stupidly putting an innocent woman in danger to solve the case. Not to mention the really bad stuff in his past....yikes! Is he a good investigator -- yes. Is he perfect, or even respectable? Not really. But being an asshole and making some huge mistakes doesn't mean he's a bad detective.....just a flawed one. I know this series gets better as it goes along.....so I'm going to give Harry the benefit of a doubt and not declare him too douchey for my reading tastes....yet. He makes some whopping bad judgement calls in this first novel....but he is flawed and undeniably human. And a damned good investigator, drunk or sober.

There is a lot of interesting discussion about Aborigine history, life and beliefs. I enjoyed those portions of the story immensely. And the criminal investigation was engaging and suspenseful, if a bit far-fetched in spots. I liked the way the story ends -- it was perfect.

All in all, Harry Hole is a very flawed character....but I like him anyway. I'm going to keep reading this series and see the development of the character over time. I'm glad I'm coming in when the series is already translated. It does make me wonder how many outstanding similar series I am missing out on because they aren't in English. I love discovering authors who are new to me.....I'm really looking forward to reading more books by Jo Nesbo.
Profile Image for Francesc.
459 reviews221 followers
October 10, 2019
Mala novela. Le pongo 2 estrellas (y soy muy generoso) porqué demuestra un gran conocimiento de Australia y de su cultura, sobre todo, aborigen. Le sobran muchísimas páginas. Da la sensación de que el autor no sabe cómo continuar con la novela y la alarga con monólogos de diferentes personajes; con sueños del protagonista en momentos que no toca; con historias de juventud que no vienen a cuento. Además, muchos de los monólogos son muy filosóficos y metafóricos y son narrados por personajes en los que no concuerdan con su nivel intelectual. Es como si el autor pensara:"A ver, estoy atascado. Ya he contado unas tres o cuatro historias de leyendas aborígenes sobre serpientes, canguros y más alimañas, pero como no tengo ni idea de como alargar innecesariamente el libro le voy a meter una más sobre un hombre o una mujer aborigen que tenía que conseguir el amor o algún otro propósito. Así, me hago el interesante y demuestro que sé mucho de Australia".
Un despropósito total.
Me ha costado mucho acabarlo porqué no me apetecía nada cogerlo. Ni la trama es buena. Ni Harry Hole atrae lo más mínimo. Es un policía de perfil bajo. Un exalcohólico que, de repente, se pone hasta las cejas a beber y se pasa medio libro sobrio y el otro medio, borracho y contándonos como se va cayendo y vomitando por las calles. Nada. Un fiasco horrible y una gran decepción.
No quiero ser injusto con la saga porqué este es el primer libro, pero no me apetece nada seguir con ella, visto lo visto.
Lo siento mucho.

Bad novel. I put 2 stars (and I am very generous) because it demonstrates a great knowledge of Australia and its culture, especially aboriginal. He has many pages left over. It seems that the author does not know how to continue with the novel and extends it with monologues of different characters; with dreams of the protagonist in irrellevant moments; with stories of youth that don't come to mind. In addition, many of the monologues are very philosophical and metaphorical and are narrated by characters who do not match their intellectual level. It's as if the author thought: "Let's see, I'm stuck. I've already told about three or four stories of aboriginal legends about snakes, kangaroos and more vermin, but since I have no idea how to unnecessarily extend the book I'm going to put a more about an aboriginal man or woman who had to get love or some other purpose. So, I become interesting and show that I know a lot about Australia. "
A total nonsense.
It cost me a lot to finish it because I didn't feel like catching it. Neither the plot is good. Not even Harry Hole attracts the slightest. He is a low profile cop. An exalcoholic who suddenly starts to drink a lot and spends half a book sober and the other half, drunk and telling us how he falls and vomiting through the streets. Nothing. A horrible fiasco and a big disappointment.
I do not want to be unfair to the saga because this is the first book, but I do not want anything to continue with it.
I'm sorry so much.
Profile Image for Rosa, really.
584 reviews312 followers
February 8, 2016

I love you, Harry, but--

And I love this series and would highly recommend it, but--

This was kind of an odd experience because although The Bat is the first book in the series, it's the 9th or 10th book published in English. When I first started the series I was most seriously disturbed that they chose to start with The Redbreast, the third book (IT'S JUST NOT RIGHT), but I read an article about the author where he said he thought the first 2 books were not well-done and he was happy the English-language pubs were starting where they did. Okay, fine, I suppose the man knows his own series. (IT'S JUST NOT RIGHT.) However, no one predicted the popularity of the series and, as you can see, they eventually published the first 2 books.

Anyway. It's just odd, though, because while Harry is going through all this traumatic shit for the first time, for me it's the 6th or 7th. I think. And it's the same shit over and over: there's a crime, Harry wanders around talking to people and philosophizing, there's another crime, something traumatic happens to Harry, Harry goes binge drinking, Harry figures out who done it in the midst of a drunken haze, Harry sobers up, solves the crime and attempts to move on with his life.

I loved this pattern in The Redbreast, Nemesis and The Devil's Star but was growing a wee bit tired of it by The Snowman & The Leopard. (I would HIGHLY recommend those first three though.)

Here's the thing: if these cops/PIs/tough guys are so fucking smart shouldn't it occur to them at some point that they seem to run into an awful lot of serial killers? I don't know shit about math, but I feel confident saying it's a mathematical improbability to face this many killers without being the main character in a mystery/thriller/crime book series. And at some point in almost every book the main character gets all maudlin and feels like he just gets the people around him killed -- and I want to say "YES! Yes, you do!" That's what happens when you're in a book and people love you: THEY ALL DIE. (Or leave. Leaving is good.)

I feel like it's time for Harry Hole to get a clue and move to a remote farm or island.

Still gonna read book #2, Cockroaches, though. (IT'S JUST NOT RIGHT.)
Profile Image for Shile (Hazard's Version) on-hiatus.
1,106 reviews838 followers
February 19, 2020
Audiobook - 4 stars
Story – 3.5 stars

I was only supposed to sample this, I found myself sampling and eventually getting the audiobook and ended up enjoying it.

Set in Sydney Australia, the story follows Inspector Harry Hole, pronounced Hooleh as he races against time and his own personal demons to catch a serial killer. The story is easy to follow, and the investigation process is so much enjoyable.

Harry is a well-developed character, his smart mouth and sarcasm made me fall in love with him. I love the fact that he was very flawed. He has his demons, we get to see how messed up he is and relate to him somehow, I love this type of characters. I wanted to hug him and let him know everything will be ok and slap him at the same time.

As for the case! Welp! The serial killer is one individual with issues, his murders are gruesome. *shivers* The writing is so good that I was hooked from the start.

A good start. I will be reading/listening to the next book.
Profile Image for Kris.
175 reviews1,468 followers
July 9, 2013
Although I love mysteries and thrillers, and have collected the Harry Hole series, this is the first mystery in the series that I have read. My procrastination meant that I could begin with the first book in Jo Nesbø's acclaimed series -- sometimes procrastination does pay off.

In this book, Harry Hole has just arrived in Sydney, Australia, after being assigned by the Oslo Crime Department to liaise with the local police department in investigating the recent death of a beautiful Norwegian citizen. Inger Holter was young, beautiful, somewhat famous, and leading a fairly complicated personal life. As Hole, along with his assigned Australian partner Andrew Kensington, begins to explore Holter's professional and personal life, he is confronted with the possibility that Holter is a victim of a serial killer.

I found The Bat to have some the weaknesses typical in first books in an established series. The pacing and tone are somewhat inconsistent, there are some plot holes and leaps of faith you must make as a reader, and the resolution of the case is rather sensational. However, there are many pleasures to be had from reading the book. Hole is a complicated and appealing protagonist, and newcomers as well as current fans of the series will enjoy reading his back story. Nesbø's choice of setting for the novel surprised me a bit, but Hole's status as a visitor and his pairing with Kensington provide Nesbø with ample opportunity to introduce some local color and background -- he even incorporates some myths and legends in the novel, sometimes awkwardly, but always intriguingly.

In summary, I found The Bat to be a welcome summer read -- engaging and difficult to put down. Definitely recommended for current and future fans of Harry Hole alike. I'm looking forward to reading more books in the series.

I received an ARC of The Bat from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jon Kurtz.
Author 4 books76 followers
November 21, 2014
My first novel by author Jo Nesbo, left me nearly as schizophrenic as a Jim Carey character. From the beginning, I found the writing difficult to digest. Set in Australia, authored by a Norwegian, and translated into the Queen's English, my American brain sloshed through the idioms saturating the pages. But I remained engaged. With a background in law enforcement, I viewed the portrayal of protagonists and antagonist as over-the-top and not realistic. But I stayed entertained. With the same eye, I felt the storyline was improbable, yet my interest in the outcome persisted. In addition, I became lost on occasion, yet found my way back. Two points of clarity for me, Nesbo does a wonderful job of character development, especially with the main character, Inspector Harry Hole (pronounced like holy). A recovering alcoholic, Harry's fall from the wagon is described in gritty detail. Likewise, other scenes are presented in a similarly thorough fashion, giving the reader a front row seat as the tale unfolds. To sum up my thoughts, I liked the story, but it left me feeling, well, unbalanced. Yours truly, Jon...or is it John?!?
Profile Image for Helena Halme.
Author 24 books223 followers
October 22, 2012
I really wanted to like this first Harry Hole novel, but I'm afraid I found it rather far fetched and dull.

For me the best thing about Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole novels is their dark and moody Norwegian setting, so perhaps I didn't like The Bat because it's set in Sydney.

A Norwegian girl is found brutally murdered, and the Australian police send for a Norwegian policeman to pacify the country's Embassy.

What follows is Australia through the eyes of a damaged, t-toal, young Norwegian policeman. There are several long passages explaining the multiculturalism, and the racial relations, in Australia. At times it felt as if the Australian tourist bureau had paid for the translation of this novel.

Harry, the foreigner, is teamed with another outsider, a senior aboriginal detective, and together they make inroads into the mystery killing. But it seems his fellow policeman knows rather more than he is willing to reveal.

Harry, who himself is struggling to come to terms with already a checkered police career at home, tries to make sense of murder mystery down under. As usual he first fails, but his doggedness pays off and in the end, he finds the solution and the murderer.

But before we get to this, there's a love affair, several wrongly accused people, more bodies and so many characters that in the end I started skimming the text instead of reading each word. I just wanted the book to end.

Profile Image for Emma.
2,509 reviews854 followers
February 4, 2018
I really enjoyed this first novel! Although Nesbo’s first novel, publishers took the decision to publish his novels from the third in the series onwards. Only in retrospect were the first two published. Apparently this first is different in tone and lighter than its sequels...some say that Nesbo has matured as a writer in later books..others speculate that maybe the translations were better later on. Well I found this story dark enough and I thought the translation, a good one, not clunky as some translations suffer from. I look forward to reading more about Harry Hole back on his home turf.
Profile Image for Carolyn Walsh .
1,542 reviews595 followers
March 20, 2023
2.5 stars. The Bat is the 1st in the Harry Hole crime series written by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo in 1997. It was not translated and released in English until some of his later books were available in translation and became popular bestsellers. Jo Nesbo's books featuring Harry Hole were heavily promoted as the next big thing in Nordic Noir. There are now 12 books available in this series, and I have read and mainly enjoyed six of them. I became familiar with Nordic Noir through Sieg Larsson's splendid Blomkist and Salander stories set in Sweden. I also enjoyed TV series with mysteries set in this bleak and dark environment.

I was disappointed that this first book was set on the other side of the world in sunny Australia, moving it far away from Nordic Noir in mood and substance. I found The Bat to be slow-paced, convoluted and dull, with little indication that his later books would contain much energy and excitement, with well-written, twisty surprises. Harry Hole is sent to Sydney, Australia, to consult with their police department on a brutal assault and murder of a young Norwegian woman working in a bar. Harry is told on arrival that he is to follow orders and not to investigate on his own.

He is partnered with an Aboriginal detective, who takes Harry on a sightseeing tour of some local tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, and a stage show featuring a flamboyant character who performs as a clown, in drag, and a magic act. They visit a boxing match. There is a lot of filler about areas around Sydney. Harry is told Aboriginal folktales and legends and learns how indigenous children were separated from their families and divorced from their tribes and culture.

Setting the story in Australia seemed a peculiar choice for a Nordic writer. I don't know if Australian readers will approve, but having worked in and around Sydney years ago, I was slightly amused. It is discovered that a serial killer may be travelling around the country, abducting, raping and strangling young blond women. The police force and Harry begin to see a pattern of murder here. As Harry meets more people associated with the dead Norwegian woman through his partner, they both turn their attention to the drug trade and local sex offenders. Harry becomes the object of jokes as he offers a new name as a probable suspect at most meetings.

Much reads like a travel guide for places around Sydney and native legends and philosophizing. The murder case that Harry came to oversee is forgotten chiefly for periods of time. We learn some background history in flashbacks that helps us understand Harry's flawed and damaged character. He is guilt-ridden and self-destructive but determined to bring criminals to justice. His self-esteem seems low, and he treats women poorly. His failed romances in the past and now in Australia and his sex exploits do little to edify his character. He is a recovering alcoholic but goes on drinking binges while on the Australian serial killer case, to the point of falling down drunk and throwing up, but still, he prevails.

If The Bat had been my first Harry Hole book, I doubt if I would have continued with a series that later became compelling and addictive for readers. At the end of this book, there is an excerpt from the 13th Harry Hole crime thriller, The Killing Moon, to be published May 30th. This takes Harry far away from Norway once more. It is to be set in LA. Apparently, he does not like the cold Norwegian winters. It looks exciting. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a chance to better understand Harry Hole and allowing me to read the ARC.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,094 reviews1,538 followers
February 11, 2014
Good for a first Harry Hole novel as it was the first in the publishing sequence in Norway, though a late arrival to these shores in translation. I had the pleasure of his background and personhood on an away game in New South Wales, where his sister was murdered in Sydney. Away games for detective characters is a common practice, but rare for a first time at bat. But it works for me as a way to know Harry without his team, a pure form so to speak.

Harry turns out not to be a cold fish or totally cynical noir character. What he lacks in Chandleresque wisecracks, he makes up for in heart and human fallibility. He’s the type of guy to takes the time to forge serious personal connections while he works, despite the seriousness of his investigation. Here he befriends an Aborginal cop who bends his mind with folktales (including one about a bat) and a Swedish barmaid who bends his heart and the rest of his body. He gets to liking Sydney and environs and learns through his nightlife how the city has become the gay capital of down under.

But the ante is upped, and the case starts to look like the path of a serial killer with a long term spree over a large geography. Harry follows hunches without quite the full logic he needs and starts missing trouble signs. His stupidity over solo forays puts him in harm’s way. And when some bad things happen to more than one of his new friends, sorting things out start getting desperate. His old alcoholism starts shaking up his wagon. Harry is the man to get the job done if he just find enough inner reserves.

The plight of the Aborigines is woven into the story without making a sociology run. As with Native Americans, many tribes got jumbled together, and cultural traditions have gotten worn away. For example, his cop friend was adopted by a non-native family. Other little windows on Australian society and ecologies and contrasts with the Nordic north add to the satisfaction of the read. I render 3 and a half stars rounded down to leave room for higher reviews later in the series. Because Harry is only visiting, I am expecting gains in pleasure from a wider ensemble of long term characters.
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