Monday, July 25, 2016

The Bat by Jo Nesbo

Fans of Jo Nesbo and his flawed detective, Oslo Police Inspector Harry Hole, will be thrilled to read this first entry in the series.  Harry is sent to Australia to help investigate the murder of a Norwegian woman there.  Unsaid is the fact that the police in Oslo are sending Harry to evaluate his fitness as he has just been involved in a major scandal.  Is he worth retrieving for his brilliant mind and ability to close cases others can't or is he just too much of a risk?

Hole is told by the Australian police that he is there to observe and just add an international flavor to the investigation.  He is paired with an Australian detective, Andrew Kensington, who is also considered to be a detective who works outside the system.  Andrew is one of the first Aboriginal detectives and introduces Harry to the non-tourist Sydney, one of boxers, prostitutes, circus performers, alcoholic natives and other characters living on the fringe.

As the case progresses, Harry realizes that this murder is not a stand-alone but one in a series of murders of blonde women.  There appears to be a serial killer at work, one who has gone unnoticed and undetected for his string of murders.  Harry and Andrew set to work, although in unconventional ways.  Along the way, we discover more of Harry's backstory and are dismayed to see him starting the pattern of resorting to an alcoholic spree that threatens to end his career.

Those who read the Harry Hole books are seldom content with reading just one.  Harry is one of the most interesting detective characters in the genre, a flawed man with a talent for detection but none for making his own life a success.  Readers cheer for him while knowing that despair and drink are probably in the works.  This first novel in the series outlines the broad strokes of the series that are later refined as Harry emerges as a character.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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