Faith in Books: The Bat

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The Bat 

By Jo Nesbo

Nesbo, a Norwegian author, has written several mystery/crime books featuring the flawed Inspector Harry Hole (pronounced Hoo-leh). The Bat is the first novel that introduces this complex character. Although it is a mystery, it also falls into the crime genre as well. This book is good but not for the faint of heart.

Hole has arrived in Sydney, Australia to be an observer and helper in the case of a young Norwegian woman who has been found strangled to death. Hole at first finds himself on the periphery of the action and decision making as well as swept along by the unconventional methods of Detective Andrew Kensington. The book quickly introduces several quirky characters that seem to swim around the main focus of the murder while providing a glimpse into the lives of both Australians and Henry Hole himself. As we become swept up in the mystery, Hole becomes personally involved to the detriment of his own health and safety.

I liked that Hole was not just a hands-off detective who had no real life compared to the suspects and witnesses in the story. The reader really gets to know Hole as he reveals more and more personal information about his life and how he got to the point of traveling to Australia. I am curious how the next book will pick up on his character.

I did not like the violence and constant presence of death. I especially hate it when writers kill off characters like George R R Martin – on one is exempt. The foul language, subject matters of prostitution and drug use and the representation of different lifestyles will not be welcome for those with a gentle constitution, so please be warned. At this point I am still not sure I want to read another of Inspector Hole’s stories. And do I really like the character?

What did this book have to do with my faith? Human beings are always looking for some sort of high. For many, this can take the form of consuming particular food or drink, drugs (illegal and prescription), sex, daring stunts, crime or even religion. It seemed like everyone of the characters in this book had some kind of high that they were looking to get. This included being in relationship with others. It made me wonder how many Christians use their religion as a way of escapism, of feeling better about themselves, of feeling “high.” I suppose for me preaching is a sort of high, although I am usually mostly self-critical afterwards. Following Christ is an act of sacrifice and, although we can be blessed in some ways, we don’t always come away with a great feeling. Often we are simply tired, burned out or poured out. Do you think you have ever used religion as a way of escapism?

I would only recommend this for hard-care mystery and crime fans.

Happy reading!

Amelia

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