B is for Bat. I recently listened to The Bat by Jo Nesbø and a review follows. The story takes place in Australia, so first I thought I’d talke a bit about bats “down under,” large fruit bats actually. In the sandstone caves of Northern Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, there are numerous depictions of flying foxes, some dating back tens of thousands of years. In The Bat, several Aboriginal stories are referenced but not the one about a confrontation between Tjinimin the Bat God and the Great Rainbow-Snake. Tjinimin wanted to have sex with the Green Parrot-Girls that were the consorts of Great Rainbow-Snake and of course Great Rainbow-Snake objected to this. At the end of the story Tjinimin hangs upside-down in a tree to admire the stars and decides never to try having sex with anyone again, whereupon his nose falls off. Which is why bats have such short faces, apparantly.
Flying foxes eat fruit and this has inevitably brought them into conflict with humans who grow fruit, especialy when the bats preferred natural resources have been logged out of existance. Flying Foxes, along with all other native bats, are now protected in Australia.
The Bat is named after an Aboriginal myth where the bat is associated with death, a story I can’t seem to find on-line.
Title: The Bat (Harry Hole #1)
Author: Jo Nesbø
Read by: John Lee
Audio published: July 2, 2013 (first published 1997)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Harry Hole is sent to Sydney to investigate the murder of Inger Holter, a young Norwegian girl, who was working in a bar. Initially sidelined as an outsider, Harry becomes central to the Australian police investigation when they start to notice a number of unsolved rape and murder cases around the country. The victims were usually young blondes. Inger had a number of admirers, each with his own share of secrets, but there is no obvious suspect, and the pattern of the other crimes seems impossible to crack. Then a circus performer is brutally murdered followed by yet another young woman. Harry is in a race against time to stop highly intelligent killer, who is bent on total destruction
Although The Bat is the first in the series, it’s the second I’ve listened to and maybe the third or fourth that was translated into English. I found it interesting that to introduce his character, Nesbø takes his character out of his home, puts him in contact with all new people. It lets us meet Harry Hole as he introduces himself to others. Except I’d already met him on his home turf.
In a way, The Bat was similar to The Redbreast, which is the other I listened to. Harry’s on a case; Harry meets a woman who he’s not destined to spend the rest of his life with, probably not even another book; a colleague is killed; Harry, the “recovering” alcoholic, gets drunk for days on end and then needs to solve the case to find justice for his friend; Harry solves the case but it takes an emotional toll on him. I wonder if that’s the general layout of each, or it’s just coincidence that is was in the two I’ve read.
As a whodunit, it was good. There were several potential suspects. I like the variety of character, both suspects and assistants. There are hookers and drug dealers, shady cops and strong boxers, a drunk sky-diver in the park and a gay clown. Harry himself is an odd duck, an outsider, not good at dealing with authority, a loner, but then he falls pretty hard for a random girl he meets. In a lot of ways, he’s the typical detective these days.
John Lee, the narrator, does a good job with different personalities and accents. It’s clear who is speaking and his reading faded into the story.
It is amusing too, in a dark way. I don’t want to spoil anything but there’s a bet partway through. Harry loses and it’s funny and sick at the same time.
One thing I especially liked was the weaving of Aboriginal folklore into the story. Several of the characters tell Harry the myths of the country, hoping to give him a little light into how they think, feel, how the country runs.
I’ll keep listening to these for a while, although based on this and The Redbreast, it hasn’t turned into one of my favorites yet.
Harry Hole Series
- The Bat
- The Cockroaches
- The Redbreast
- The Devil’s Star
- The Redeemer
- The Snowman
- The Leopard
And a quick thanks to all of you who left comments on A yesterday, some regular readers, some folks stopping by for A to Z.
Mary at Play off the Page
Marie from Every Day Is a Miracle
marcuslee2401 from The Masquerade Crew
Sabrina Garie, Romance Author
Chrystal from Housewives of Blogdom
blodeuedd from Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
Christine from The Dead Writers Society
Elle from The Erratic Project Junkie
Stacy from Stacy’s Books
The Childlike Author from The Playground
Cheryl from Cheryl’s Random Thoughts
Ryan from Wordsmithsonia