Rating: 3.5 Stars
Sometimes, I’m too arrogant for my own good. Everyone told me not to start reading the Harry Hole books from the first book, because it will be boring for me. I refused to listen to them, because I’m arrogant like I mentioned above, and also because I’m a bit crazy, and not reading something from the beginning is anathema to me. Well, it took me 18 days, and I read three other books while reading it, but I finally managed to finish The Bat by Jo Nesbo. I’m so glad I decided to stick to it and not give up.
I wanted to say that the book starts off slow, but it doesn’t. I have read books with a much slower pace. It’s the story that seems so boring and fails to capture your interest in the first 100 pages of the book. I was ready to give up. There were days when I just looked at the book and didn’t want to read anything at all! I was just too stubborn to give up and have people tell me they told me so.
The book picked up speed, and my interest, after about 130 pages. Before that, the only reason I insisted on reading on, was that I had started liking the Norwegian detective, who seemed a bit unhinged. I have found a new favourite contemporary detective after Cormoran Strike! Harry Hole (pronounced Hoo-Leh) is a bit mental, thinks too much and is an alcoholic. He has a very complicated backstory, but that was perhaps the least confusing of all the stories in the book.
I can see why people think that The Bat is not the best book to introduce Harry Hole. The story itself is very cliched. A Norwegian girl is raped and murdered, and the police is trying to find the murderer. Harry’s government has sent him to help in the investigation and tie up any lose ends. If it had been a normal whodunnit, it would have been easier to read, but it is not your average crime thriller with a swashbuckling hero.
Every character in this book has a story to tell, and these stories range from stories of their life, to stories of their parents’ lives, to stories of Aboriginal legends. It becomes too much to sort through the relevance of each story to what is happening in the book. However, this was the reason I decided to stick with the book. It was interesting to relate all the stories to what was going on in the book, and it gave my mind some much needed exercise! I had my suspicions but, like Harry, I couldn’t be sure.
There was also this feeling of affront because all the female characters were only good for one thing, and that was not bartending. Then I remembered that this was written in the late 90s when macho detectives did everything themselves, and poor females were either the victims, or extremely grateful to said detectives. Still, it was good to read about a hero who has little to recommend him, is an alcoholic, and is guilty of a lot more than what his superiors are willing to admit. I just hope there are better female characters in the other books in this series.
In the end, I was glad that I had stuck by this book. It gave me an introdution to a well-loved character, who I am beginning to like. Next time however, I will take others’ advice and read the third book instead of the second one, if only to keep my sanity and to keep my reading progress on track.