The Bat is the first of the Harry Hole series by Nesbo, and the 6th in the series I've read. I've read #'s 3, 4, 5, and 7. Still need to pick up #2 The Cockroaches and #6 The Redeemer, and then can proceed with The Leopard, The Phantom, and Headhunters. They have not been translated in order, which is why I'm only now reading the first in the series, a recent translation.
At first, I thought, ahhh, Harry hasn't always been such a dark character and The Bat isn't as dark a book as the later books. I was pleased with the humor and character of Andrew, the aboriginal detective that partners Harry when he is sent to Sydney, Australia to aid in the murder investigation of a young Swedish woman. I also enjoyed Harry's on-the-wagon self, dealing with mistakes he has made.
Silly me, the novel does, of course, turn into Swedish noir. Still, it was nice getting a bit more backstory on Harry and seeing a younger, lighter, and less depressed self--even as we learn more about his alcoholic tendencies in an investigation that adds more trauma to Harry's already troubled soul, pointing the way to the older, more cynical version to come.
What initially seems a straight forward murder investigation takes a turn when it appears that the young woman's murder is not an isolated one. A little statistical examination reveals similarities in crimes committed across the Australian continent that had not been previously connected.
The bat is a symbol of death in aboriginal culture, and Andrew is at his best trying to educate Harry about Dream Time mythology...and to use the mythology to point Harry in the right direction. Is it over done? Could be, but I was enamored of Andrew early on and love mythology, so I didn't mind.
The villain did come as a surprise, but somewhat of a reach.
**Hole is pronounced Ho-leh or as the Aussies put it, Holy. Nice to finally discover that.
NetGalley ARC/Knopf Doubleday
Thriller/Mystery. Trans. 2013. Originally publ. 1997.