Pages: 374
Format: Paperback
Language: English
ISBN: 9781846556005

This is chilling, spectacular stuff, and anyone looking for serious and seriously compelling crime writing need look no further.
-Mark Billingham

With over 14 million books sold worldwide, ‘The Bat’ is Jo Nesbo’s first Harry Hole thriller and has been translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett. Published in Norway in 1997, it became an instant bestseller. The novel has a pleasant overlay and begins with the Detective Harry Hole travelling to Sydney, Australia to investigate the murder of a young Norwegian girl who had been taking a gap year in the city. The story starts to get more interesting as a string of murders, rapes and disappearances are unearthed, which are linked to one another and the particular case.

The novel is written in the third person perspective, which makes it all the more interesting to experience. Since most of the novel unfolds in Sydney, we are shown an exquisite yet dark side of the city. Ancient Australian and Aboriginal traditions and tales make it more exciting, along with the more than abundant homosexual community of the city. Another interesting element about the book is that many of its chapters have peculiar names such as A Pleasant Prostitute, A Fish, A Box Jellyfish and Four Thousand Feet and an end. Besides, some exceptional dialogues in the book make it a joy to read.

‘Are you a tourist as well?’

Harry had a think. It must have been a really good think, because when he was ready to answer, the Danes had gone.

Although the book might lack something in terms of action, there is this slow, building thriller of a plot that intensifies over the pages. The story had lost its track somewhere in the middle and begins to get a tad dull and might have gone a bit too long, frustrating the readers who just want to find out who the serial killer is. However, the way the author slowly and steadily releases the curtain over the suspense- one chapter at a time- is remarkable. One must keep in mind that in its slow pace lays the novel’s advantage.

Credit must go first to the author who has written this as his debut Harry Hole novel. The ingenuity and the originality are to be applauded. One must not forget the translator Don Bartlett who has done a wonderful job of bringing Scandinavian literature from its depths to the readers. All in all, I look forward to reading more of Jo Nesbo’s works and seeing more of Detective Harry Hole.

Overall Rating: 7/10

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