Book Review: The Bat by Jo Nesbo

Jo Nesbo’s The Bat is the first book in the author’s series featuring Norwegian detective Harry Hole. Having heard great things about Nesbo’s Nordic noir crime fiction, I was excited to finally pick up The Bat and see what the fuss was about. I have to say, this book completely lived up to the hype and then some – it truly gripped me from the very first page!

The bat by Jo Nesbo

TitleThe Bat
AuthorJo Nesbo
GenreCrime, Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Publication DateJuly 2, 2013
Length386 pages

Where to Purchase

Introduction and Overview

The Bat takes place in Australia, which provides an interesting change of scenery from the stereotypical Scandinavian setting for Nordic crime fiction. The story follows Harry Hole, who is sent from Norway to Sydney to assist with an investigation into the murder of a Norwegian minor celebrity named Inger Holter. With his deep knowledge of the psychology of killers, Harry teams up with an Australian detective named Andrew Kensington to unravel the complex mystery.

As you would expect from a Scandinavian crime thriller, The Bat features gruesome murders, expansive drug rings, intricate police procedural details and troubled investigators with major personal demons. The book is dark, gritty and pulls no punches, while also showing off Nesbo’s skill at plotting an addictive page-turner.

My Thoughts on the Plot and Storyline

One of the main things that impressed me about The Bat was how clever and multifaceted the plot was. From the very beginning, I found myself constantly trying to piece together the mystery of what really happened to Inger Holter. Just when I thought I had it figured out, Nesbo would reveal a new twist that forced me to reconsider all the clues.

The storyline takes readers through the seedy underworld of the Sydney drug trade, while also exploring the Australian Outback and Aboriginal culture. Nesbo does a fantastic job painting a vivid picture of the setting and making Sydney into an equally important character alongside Harry Hole.

Some of the most intense scenes involve Harry going undercover to infiltrate a drug ring in order to identify Inger’s murderer. Nesbo had my heart racing as Harry deals with dangerous criminals who could discover his true identity at any moment. It’s this thrilling combination of gritty mystery, high-stakes police work and vivid location that makes The Bat so hard to put down.

My Take on Harry Hole as the Flawed Protagonist

Of course, a big part of this book’s appeal comes from the complex, damaged character of Harry Hole. While brilliant at his job, Harry is also dealing with alcoholism and severe guilt over his failed marriage and affair back in Norway. This backstory provides a fascinating psychological dimension to Harry’s character and his motivations for throwing himself headfirst into this case in Australia.

Nesbo does an excellent job conveying Harry’s cerebral detective skills, while also showing his more reckless tendencies when interviewing suspects or diving into dangerous situations. I found myself really rooting for Harry while also seeing that his self-destructive behavior could jeopardize the entire investigation at any time. This duality makes for a captivating flawed hero to follow through all the twists and turns of the mystery.

Final Impressions – A Stellar Nordic Noir Thriller

The Bat was a fantastic introduction to Harry Hole and Jo Nesbo’s gritty style of Nordic crime fiction. I truly had a hard time putting the book down as I followed along with Harry’s dangerous undercover operation to find Inger Holter’s murderer. Nesbo deftly combines pulse-pounding thriller scenes with insightful psychological drama, while bringing the setting of Sydney vibrantly to life.

For any fans of authors like Stieg Larsson, Ian Rankin or Henning Mankell, I can’t recommend The Bat highly enough. It has all of the chilling atmosphere and complex plotting that makes Scandinavian crime novels so compulsive and satisfying. I’m eager now to dive into more of the Harry Hole book series now that Nesbo has me well and truly hooked! The Bat shows this Norwegian author is a master at merging action and atmosphere within the confines of the clever detective story.


  • Paula Davis

    Paula Davis is a dedicated and seasoned content writer for Dreaming and Reading, where she brings her extensive knowledge and passion for literature to a wide audience of fellow book enthusiasts. With the heart of a true bookworm, Paula has immersed herself in the literary world, devouring approximately 50 books annually for the last 15 years. This impressive reading habit has not only provided her with immense joy but has also significantly honed her expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in the realm of book reviews. Her insightful and well-crafted reviews reflect her deep understanding and appreciation of various genres, offering valuable guidance to readers in search of their next great read. With a finger always on the pulse of the latest literary releases, Paula Davis is a trusted voice and a go-to source for book recommendations and reviews.

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