THE FIRST HARRY HOLE THRILLER
HARRY IS OUT OF HIS DEPTH
Detective Harry Hole is meant to keep out of trouble. A young Norwegian girl on a gap year in Sydney has been murdered, and Harry has been sent to Australia to assist in any way he can.
HE’S NOT SUPPOSED TO GET TOO INVOLVED
When the team unearths a string of unsolved murders and disappearances, nothing will stop Harry from finding out the truth. The hunt for a serial killer is on, but the murderer will only talk to Harry.
… BUT HE MIGHT JUST BE THE NEXT VICTIM
I’ll comment first on the book’s title…
If there’s anything I’ve learnt from reading Jo Nesbø’s novels is that the man does a great job at coming up with cleverly thought titles. And this one was no exception. Towards the beginning of the novel, we read about the Australian Aboriginal take on the story of creation – “the Dreaming” – and the fall of Man – “The Coming of Death” – where Narahdarn the Bat (the equivalent of the devil as a snake in the Bible, in the story of Adam and Eve) is released into the world after the first woman attempts to take honey from the “sacred tree”. And I’m quite certain that that’s where Nesbø got his book title inspiration from. The bat being the Aboriginal symbol of death; and “death” being a metaphorical reference to the novel’s main antagonist.
On to the story itself…
Before Harry took on the neo-Nazi gangs of Oslo, before he met Rakel, before The Snowman tried to take everything he held dear, he went to Australia. The Bat takes us back to Harry Hole’s early days as a police officer, where he’s sent to Sydney to aid in the murder investigation of Inger Holter, a young Norwegian girl, who was working in a bar.
We get to see a different Harry Hole, at first, in this novel. It seems he has less of a burden upon his shoulders; free of worries and troubles. We also learn about how a horrific car accident, several years earlier, involving Harry and his best friend, has left him a teetotaller. However, those booze-less days are short-lived as another friend of his is found dead, which leads Harry down the dark path of alcoholism once again.
This, however, does not stop him from solving the case, because as the book progresses, Harry does more than just help out. He ends up taking charge of the entire investigation himself.
The Australian Aboriginals, their cultures, and their stories and myths – The Dreamtime – also feature prominently in the book. And no, these have nothing to do with bedtime stories that parents read to their kids. Dreamtime stories reveal the Aboriginal understanding of why the world operates in the way that it does. The Dreamtime, according to the Aboriginals, is the beginning of all the world’s knowledge, and from this, laws came into existence that must be observed in order to survive. I must add, I had never heard of these tales, before, so it was very interesting to read about them.
The short chapters made this book more fast-paced, which added to the slow build-up of suspense leading up to the nail-biter of an ending.
My review doesn’t finish there, though, as I’ve got some bonus content for you, dear readers.
I came across a few song references whilst reading The Bat. So, just for fun, I took the liberty of creating a Spotify playlist with the songs mentioned in the book. Feel free to check it out by clicking here. This is something I’ll definitely be doing again in the future, with other books I read. Hopefully the playlists will be longer, though.
– Preston Carbonaro