Book Review – THE BAT by Jo Nesbo

The Bat Synopsis 

The Bat by Jo Nesbo

Harry is out of his depth.

Detective Harry Hole is meant to keep out of trouble. A young Norwegian girl taking a gap year in Sydney has been murdered, and Harry has been sent to Australia to assist in any way he can.

He’s not supposed to get too involved.

When the team unearths a string of unsolved murders and disappearances, nothing will stop Harry from finding out the truth. The hunt for a serial killer is on, but the murderer will talk only to Harry.

He might just be the next victim.



I have had The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo on my Kindle for sometime and was about to finally read it, when I saw that The Bat, the first title in his much acclaimed Harry Hole series had finally been translated into English. In that case I thought I should really just start from the beginning, especially since The Bat is set in Australia! I purchased the audio version narrated by Sean Barratt, since I had previously enjoyed his narration of The Ignorance of Blood by Robert Wilson.

Harry Hole is one of the more intriguing fictional heroes I have come across. He has many faults and battles with demons of his own creation day by day – not always winning. In an odd way, I think it is his ownership of his weaknesses and the world weariness he exhibits that is appealing. That despite what has happened, he still carries on. Deep down, past the self-pity and self-destructive behaviour, he still cares enough to search for the truth.

Disclosure: If you click a link in this post we may earn a small commission to help offset our running costs.

The Bat by Jo Nesbo has both heart and dark depths – it as moving as it is thrilling.

Jo Nesbo has shown great talent in structuring this thriller. The crumbs left along the way were, in most cases, small enough not to give the game away, but large enough for readers to recall once the many twists were unveiled – just how I like it. The character set in The Bat was also sufficiently complex to keep me engaged throughout.

The only slight let down for me in The Bat were some of the re-tellings of Australian Aboriginal legend by the characters Harry Hole meets. While this element added great depth and heart to the novel, and Harry’s reactions to the story morals helped us learn more about him, at times their length allowed the tension built to wane. The Aboriginal mythology woven into Harry Hole’s eventual unravelling of the mystery also worked very well as a plot device, but in a couple of instances I found the references gratuitous.

While I really enjoyed listening to The Bat in audio – it was so compelling I could not wait to get back into my car to keep listening – I did find the choice of Sean Barrett as narrator a little perplexing. Don’t get me wrong, I think Sean Barrett is a wonderful narrator, but his voice sounds considerably older than I imagined the character Harry Hole is in The Bat. This meant the pictures I had in my mind when Hole was talking to his senior officers or his interactions with his twenty-something love interest, jarred with the voice I was hearing.

I am glad I started from the beginning of Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series as much time in The Bat is spent giving readers a deeper understanding of the lead character’s history.

I have also heard Harry Hole’s time in Australia is referred to often in future novels. I can completely understand why The Bat was not chosen as the first book to translate into English though. It being based in Australia and its mythological references would probably have impacted it’s broader international appeal.

I am now looking forward to the second Harry Hole title written by Jo Nesbo, The Cockroaches, being translated into English.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

Have you read The Bat? Do you want to?

Join the discussion below.

BOOK DETAILS: The Bat (Audible); The Bat (Amazon); The Bat (TheNile – Aus); The Bat (Kobobooks)

Genre: Audio, ActionCrime-Detective, Mystery, RomanceThriller

About the Author: Jo Nesbo is a musician, songwriter, economist, and author. He is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the Glass Key, the Riverton Prize, and the Booksellers Prize, and one of his Harry Hole novels was voted best Norwegian crime novel of all time by Norwegian readers. He lives in Oslo.

– Check out Jo Nesbo’s official website for an autobiography and FAQs

Other reviews of The Bat: Express, Crimepieces, Eurocrime, Crime Scraps

Other books by Jo Nesbo: The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil’s Star, The Redeemer, The Snowman, The Leopard, Phantom, Headhunters