The bat: a Scandiwegian whodunit set in Australia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is Jo Nesbø’s best novel yet — the only problem is that it is his first.
Nearly four years ago I read The Redeemer by Jo Nesbø.I thought it was the best Scandiwegian whodunit I’d read till then, and it was the first one I’d read by Nesbø. But the later novels of his that I read were rather disappointing (see reviews here). Perhaps if one reads them backwards, there will be a steady improvement.
In The bat Norwegian detective Harry Hole is sent to Australia to help with the investigation of the murder of a Norwegian citizen in Sydney. The book is therefore quite an interesting guide to Australian geography and culture, which Nesbø explains to his Norwegian readers, to whom it would be unfamiliar. Books set in Australia and written by Australians don’t generally do this, since the authors no doubt assume that their readers will be Australian, and therefore familiar with the social demographics of Sydney suburbs, and the appearance of the Queensland countryside. I found that Nesbø’s explanations of these added to the interest of the book
There are also some Australian folk tales (the title of the book is based on one of them) and more about the different cultures in Australia — as seen through Norwegian eyes. I found all this far more interesting than the lengthy descriptions of Harry Hole’s hangovers, which seem to take up more and more space in the later books, though even in this one they are not entirely absent. One of the plot holes of this one is that one is never told when he stops drinking and is able to function again.
If anyone in Australia is reading this, and has read the book, I’d be interested in your take on Nesbø’s descriptions of Sydney suburbs, and Australian culture generally. I got a fair bit of it in The slap, which I read a few months ago, but that was written in Oz and for Australians.