Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Bat

The Bat
Jo Nesbo
Translated by Don Bartlett

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Vintage Books
Random House
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-345-80709-0
Trade Paperback
$ 14.95
369 pages
Having previously read other books in the Harry Hole series by Jo Nesbo, why wouldn't I want to read the first book of the series introducing the main character, Harry? These books have been translated and available in English, but not in the order they were written or in the series.

Harry Holy is a disgraced Norwegian investigator. Being in an accident has left him battered, bandaged, and carrying feeling of guilt about the death of a fellow officer. Yes, he is an outstanding investigator and a member of the Oslo Crime Squad. His superiors have covered up the fact the Harry was intoxicated as he was driving the vehicle. Now, what do they do with him?
The Bat explains Harry's past and the decision by his superiors to send him to Australia to assist in the death of a Norwegian female. Harry is to assist and not to cause any trouble, in any way. Inger Holter hosted a children's television program for a few years making her a celebrity in her homeland. She was brutally strangled by what is appearing to be a serial killer. There is definitely a pattern to this death.

As he arrives at the Sydney airport, Harry meets his investigative partner, Andrew. Andrew, a former boxer, explains his own Aboriginal heritage as the case develops. Andrew immediately warms to Harry as they investigate every aspect of the crime while noticing that their murderer is beginning to resemble a serial killer with a preference for blonds. As their friendship and trust grows, Harry learns more about Australia and the people and possibly even begins to develop a new special relationship with a woman.

What he did not plan on was becoming too close to this case and people that he questions, quickly become victims.

Jo Nesbo has won numerous writing awards but the one that stands out is for his book, The Redbreast which is considered to be the best Norwegian crime novel of all time which was compiled by Norwegian readers.

Whenever I read an excellent book that was translated, I always wonder if the talent is due to the writer, the translator, the editors, or a winning combination of all three.

Harry Hole in The Bat is a simpler mystery without the darkness of The Redbreast. However, this novel is instrumental in understanding the flawed and fascinating character, Harry Hole.

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