Archive for October 31, 2012

Updating the Harry Hole series [book two is yet to be translated into English]
 
 
I have just finished reading the first book in the Harry Hole series, The Bat, first published in Norwegian in 1997, and the winner of the Nordic Glass Key in 1998.
 A young blonde Norwegian girl, Inger Holter, has been murdered and Harry is sent to Sydney to assist the local police. There he meets Andrew, an indigenous Australian policeman, from whom he learns some of the culture and traditions of the aboriginal people. Harry has a romantic affair with Birgitta, a beautiful Swedish girl who works in a bar, and unfortunately resumes a meaningful relationship with his very best friend, Jim Beam. 
Although this book, brilliantly translated as usual by Don Bartlett, is slightly raw, and at times is a bit like a travel guide of Sydney all the  potential that will be realised in the Oslo Trilogy [ The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil’s Star] and The Snowman is there. Harry’s character is almost fully developed; his love of his sister who has “a touch of Down’s Syndrome”, his insubordination, his problems with women, and his alcoholism. 
You‘re a tiny bit damaged every time you unravel another murder case. Unfortunately as a rule there are more human wrecks and sadder stories, and fewer ingenious motives, than you would imagine from reading Agatha Christie.’ 
Jo Nesbo’s technique of making you think the story is over when you can see a few hundred pages still to go, his plot twists, and surprises are there although not as polished as in the later books. The story is told entirely from Harry’s perspective which is a nice change from books that switch around with mind blowing speed. 
Even though this novel is 15 years old it is still a very good example of Jo Nesbo’s talented writing, and well worth reading for the information it relates about Australian society and little glimpses of Nesbo’s humour that will lighten the violence in the later books.
‘There was always a variety of nationalities-Chinese, Italians, Greeks. And Aboriginals. In those days volunteers could choose who they wanted to box. So, for example, if you were an anti-Semite, you could pick a Jew. Even though the chances of being beaten up by a Jew were pretty high.’ Harry chuckled.