A Scandinavian crime thriller with a difference, this one is set far from the fjords in the “Lucky Country” of Australia. The Lucky Country didn’t prove too lucky for Inger Holter, a Norwegian girl on a gap year in Sydney, whose body is found on the Pacific coast. Harry Hole (pronounced “Holy” by the Aussies) is sent by the Norwegians to assist the New South Wales Police. This is the first of the Harry Hole series (there have been 11 to date). In Australia, Harry is a bit like a fish out of water, a maverick cop and recovering alcoholic, things start off quite well for Harry, he meets a lovely Swedish girl named Birgitta. But then Harry falls off the wagon. Andrew Kensington, his new aboriginal buddy ends up dead and then things start spiralling out of control as Harry turns to his old pal Jim Beam for succour. The plot has several twists, as it turns out their murderer is a serial killer, but the pace is patchy, a lot of Dreamtime stories add to the local colour but don’t add much to the plot. The Bat of the title is a Dreamtime omen of death, a bat of the willow variety comes to play in a bar room brawl, giving one of the characters serious concussion. This is well written and well researched, the Australian backdrop has an authentic feel, but I prefer the more mature work later in the series like “The Leopard” .
My rating : 4 out of 5