Category Archives: jo nesbo

The Bat

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the bat

“Then Harry was alone. As we always are.”

Harry Hole is the epitome of the modern day noir detective. He’s a Norwegian Philip Marlowe. His life revolves around his cases. His relationships can never last because he lives for his cases not for his relationships. The only lasting relationship he can ever have is with crime.

In this first installment, we see Harry as a bright eyed, bushy tailed detective on his way to Australia to help the Australian police solve the murder of a young Norwegian girl. He’s almost naive at the outset of this case. He seems so young and innocent in comparison to where I found him in The Leopard. Harry is quickly taken under the wing of a seasoned Australian police detective, Andrew, who begins to show him the ropes of the Australian police force.

As with the last Harry Hole mystery I read, this novel is surrounded in folk tales and fables. Tall tales of creation stories that weave throughout the case Harry is working. In this case, Aboriginal creation stories are told, including the bat, representing death, Bubbur the snake, and Walla the fighter. Each folk character has it’s counterpart in a character involved in the crime. And it’s up to Harry to figure out who is who, what is truth and what is fiction.

It doesn’t take long for the Harry in The Leopard to begin to emerge. The case soon drags Harry down the rabbit hole, kicking up his worst traits. It’s almost as if Harry has to succumb to the depths of his own depravity to see the depravity in others. Harry manages to get his man but each time at a greater cost. It makes me wonder what will be left of Harry Hole at the end of the series.

Rating: 4/5 You can see Nesbo is still working out the kinks of Hole’s character in this one but I love the character study from the later novel to Hole’s creation.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

Translation Please

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the bat 1

Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel translated into English. I had a few different options on this one and had a hard time narrowing them down. This was one of those categories that made me realize just how many books there are in the world to read. I finally settled on the first Harry Hole mystery, Jo Nesbo’s The Bat. Funny story, I was reading the novel just for fun and not for the Book Battle until I realized that, duh, it was first written in Norwegian.

I’ve already read one Nesbo thriller for this reading challenge so I expect a lot of scares. With The Leopard, I read the prologue and had to stop reading it for about a week because I was traumatized. But I ended up really liking the gritty journey of that novel and can’t wait to see where Harry Hole started. Usually I like to read series in order but with this one I started somewhere near the middle/end. I’ve seen Harry Hole at his most down trodden it will be fascinating to see how he got there. What choices he made throughout the series that left him in down and out in Asia.

Stay tuned for the full review of The Bat. Happy reading!

Harry Down the Rabbit Hole

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Harry Down the Rabbit Hole

I had such a visceral reaction to the first few pages of this book that I had to step away for a couple days before I could pick it up again. Nesbo is decidedly unrelenting in his depiction of violence and depravity but it does work in the contexts of this book. The scene in question involves a kind of torture device used in Africa called the Leopold’s Apple. Definitely not for the faint of heart. However, looking deeper into the story it’s much less about the violence and much more about the deconstruction and reconstruction of a man. Part police procedural, psychological thriller, and man’s search for answers within himself, The Leopard is one roller coaster ride of a book.

The novel, after I was able to pick it up again, started rather slowly but sure picked up towards the end to the point that I couldn’t put it down. Taking place in Oslo, rural Norway, and even the Congo the novel has many twists and turns I never expected. Nesbo guides you through his red herrings and makes you believe everyone. Just when you think you know who the killer is guess again. Even prized detective Harry Hole is surprised with this one.

My favorite quote from the book occurs when Harry first goes to the Congo. For me this quote solidified much of the book and the way many of the characters interact with each other. Harry and his Congolese taxi driver are talking about a snow leopard and the driver states: “That one is almost impossible to hunt. It is rare, has large territory, only hunts at night. Hides and blends into environs during the day. I think it is very lonely animal, Harry.” This quote applies both to Harry and the people he hunts, two sides of the same coin.

As Harry’s father says, love and hate are the same just the flip side of the coin. Nesbo does an amazing job of showing this disparity, especially in the characters’ relationships with each other. How easy it is to flip the coin on the person next to you and how perhaps the hate you thought was destroying you could be your saving grace.

Now, this is the 8th book in the series and I definitely felt at a slight disadvantage not knowing what had happened in the previous books, since the events were heavily mentioned as influencing personality and behavior. It also makes me want to know more about Norway and the culture there since there are many different dialects brought up and placed on certain people in judgement of reverence.

Overall, I really enjoyed the ride this book took me on. While terrifying, it made me think and read between the lines, exactly what a book is supposed to do.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next book in the battle!!

The Leopard Has Arrived

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The Leopard Has Arrived

For the next battle, a book recommended by a friend. For this challenge I’ve chosen Jo Nesbo’s novel The Leopard. One of my good friends from college recommended this book to me because she knows that I like mysteries and scary books. And this one looks like a doozy. I’ve never read a book by this author before but am excited to check it out. I’ve read a few Scandinavian mysteries before, most notably The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and have loved the grit and suspense in them. The pacing is so different from a lot of American mysteries and thrillers, slower and centered around psychological suspense.

I’m a big fan of reading novels that take place outside of my home state and country. It’s so interesting to read about how other cultures and people relate to each other and how their environment affects mood and pace. I can’t wait to dive right into the Norwegian winter and see what happens.

Stay tuned for the review of The Leopard! What book are you reading next?