Thursday, 21 February 2013

Jo Nesbo's "The Bat" ....Great expectations

After reading all the Harry Hole books with relish I was dying to read the first in the series. I should have known it would be different, having been written over ten years earlier and set in sweltering Sydney, rather than bleak, wintry Oslo. Other books reference this Australian serial killer case so my expectations were high.
Well, for a start, there is soooo much dialogue compared to the other books. As an Australian, it is clear Mr Nesbo has visited Sydney and/or done copious research. He has the Australian lingo down pat. The colourful characters of Kings Cross and Darlinghurst Road show this. It's just a bit crass, a bit obvious. I found Andrew Kensington, the Australian Aboriginal detective with a dark secret (no pun intended) totally unbelievable. I miss the bleakness and subtlety of the later novels. I suppose Mr Nesbo was finding his feet with the genre in 1997. He was in his mid-thirties when he wrote The Bat. His writing has certainly matured - he is 52 now.
We do find out why Harry decides to give up alcohol  The book improves by the half-way mark when Harry stops being an observer with the Sydney police and becomes a protagonist. Plus he goes on a nice old bender in Kings Cross. Harry finally does some nifty detective work 70% into the book. The homeless guy who skydives was a bit much. Once again, Harry uses technology and intuition to track the serial killer
The ending is pure pulp cinema, although I like the poignant coda.

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