Length: 425 pages
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Detective Harry Hole was sent to Australia primarily as a formality. A Norwegian girl working in Sydney has been murdered and Norway wants a man on the scene, even if it is just to make his presence known. His few days in Australia were meant to be spent on the perimeter of the investigation – never getting too involved and enjoying the tourist sights of the city. But that was before the Australian police discovered that the murder was one of many and the work of a serial killer who has no reason or intention to stop. Now nothing can keep Harry away from the investigation, and the Australian police know that they need his talent and experience. But the more Harry chases after the killer, the more his past catches up with him. How many demons can one man fight, especially when some of them have a hold on your soul?
There are many reasons The Bat makes for an interesting read. The first is the story – crisp, twist filled, surprising and shocking, emotional to the right degree, and just complicated enough. Nesbo creates a really interesting story, one that keeps you turning the pages as it unfolds bit by bit while never becoming boring.
The second thing that the book has going for it are the little facts it contains. Nesbo seamlessly intertwines fact with fiction, bringing into play those integral aspects of a culture that really breathe life into a story. The third factor is, quite simply, Nesbo’s style.
The writing style is quite unique. Nesbo doesn’t spell anything out. Most of the book goes on with situations and emotions that are implied. A chapter will start somewhere and the end is abrupt, yet fulfilling – it doesn’t leave you hanging, but leaves you to use your imagination and fill out the rest. The conclusion is obvious – you just get the fun of reaching there. This happens a lot with the characters’ changing emotions too. The reader is left with the task of understanding what led to a meeting that ended on an ugly note to continue days later on a better one. There is an innate understanding that is tacitly stated in his work. Some may find that frustrating, but I thought it was a very interesting style.
The dynamics between the characters are oddly human – glorious in its reality and oddity. And the story itself carries on with this underlying sense of urgency, something that you can feel perfectly from the point of view of the main character.
All in all, The Bat is a book that is ideal for those who like mysteries and suspense stories. Why it doesn’t rank higher than a 3.5 is because it is really good in many ways, but isn’t a spectacular read as a whole. It isn’t a book that you can read repeatedly. But it is perfect to become the beginning of the series that you return to after a period where you’ve read other authors, making it perfect for a relaxed holiday. That being said, I don’t think you should miss Nesbo if you like mysteries. He’s got a unique style and is one of those authors whose books can be read anytime and anywhere. And The Bat clearly hints at the potential of the following books of the series. I’d definitely read Nesbo again, especially books from his Harry Hole series.