Flawed hero, great mystery
Jo Nesbo is Norwegian, and his Harry Hole series was not translated into English in order. The first book, The Bat, was written in 1997. But it wasn't published in English until 2012. From what I read, the delay is probably because the novel is set in Australia, not in Oslo as the later books. The second book, The Cockroaches, was also not translated until many years after it's publication in Norwegian. The second book is set in Thailand, as Harry Hole is sent there to assist in a murder investigation. So, technically a reader could jump in on book 3 where Hole is at home in Norway. Word is that the books set in Norway are better. I can't be a judge of that since I haven't read them yet. I'm reading in order.....it's just my way.
The basics: Norwegian detective Harry Hole is sent to Sydney, Australia to help investigate the murder of a Norwegian woman, Inger Holter. Australian officials don't really want his help, but he digs into the case anyway. He's paired up with an Aborigine detective, Andrew Kensington. Hole (pronounced Hole-y) finds that there are similar killings of other blonde women, turning the investigation into the search for a serial killer.
If I had to judge the Harry Hole character from this first book....I would have to be honest and say he's pretty unlikable. He makes some really crappy decisions in this first book...from falling off the wagon and making a total drunken ass of himself on more than one occasion to stupidly putting an innocent woman in danger to solve the case. Not to mention the really bad stuff in his past....yikes! Is he a good investigator -- yes. Is he perfect, or even respectable? Not really. But being an asshole and making some huge mistakes doesn't mean he's a bad detective.....just a flawed one. I know this series gets better as it goes along.....so I'm going to give Harry the benefit of a doubt and not declare him too douchey for my reading tastes....yet. He makes some whopping bad judgement calls in this first novel....but he is flawed and undeniably human. And a damned good investigator, drunk or sober.
There is a lot of interesting discussion about Aborigine history, life and beliefs. I enjoyed those portions of the story immensely. And the criminal investigation was engaging and suspenseful, if a bit far-fetched in spots. I liked the way the story ends -- it was perfect.
All in all, Harry Hole is a very flawed character....but I like him anyway. I'm going to keep reading this series and see the development of the character over time. I'm glad I'm coming in when the series is already translated. It does make me wonder how many outstanding similar series I am missing out on because they aren't in English. I love discovering authors who are new to me.....I'm really looking forward to reading more books by Jo Nesbo.