When Jo Nesbo’s first Harry Hole novel, The Bat, finally made it into English translation, I wasn’t in any great hurry to read it given previous disappointments reading series debuts, but I read a couple of good reviews and decided maybe it would be interesting to discover whether Harry Hole started out as troubled as he appears in later books.
Usually I prefer eBook form, but when I noticed that The Bat was also available as an audiobook, I decided to go for it, have someone read to me for a change.
So I went around ‘plugged in’ for a couple of days, blatantly ignoring the rest of the world (when I could get away with it), thoroughly caught up in Harry’s investigations ‘down under’ in Sydney, Oz. Totally engrossing. So much so that I expect my opinion of the book has been influenced by the format… being read to is such a different experience than normal reading. First impression: Harry Hole appears to have sprung forth from Nesbo’s brain a troubled man, just the kind of moody sleuth I find addictive.
And speaking of addictive, I so enjoyed having The Bat read to me, as soon as it ended, I searched out the audio version of Jo Nesbo’s The Redbreast, even though I read it a few years ago. It got me hooked on Harry Hole, so I remember it well. This time I am trying to be more conservative with my listening (no earbuds at the breakfast table), but I fear I could get hooked on this mode.
In this post I intended to talk about Harry Hole in The Bat, how he was moody from the very start and all that, but as I’ve been listening to The Redbreast, I’ve been wondering what it is about Harry Hole that makes him the kind of protagonist that attracts a following, and what it is about Harry Hole that sets him apart from other series detectives who attract a following.
This year, since I started Moody Sleuth, I’ve written about several of my favourite fictional detectives: Karin Fossum’s Inspector Konrad Sejer, John Burdett’s Sonchai Jitpleecheep, Arnaldur Indridason’s Inspector Erlendur, Petros Markaris’ Inspector Costas Haritos, Denise Mina’s Maureen O’Donnel, and Stav Sherez’s DI Jack Carrigan.
Not a very long list, and a bit eclectic, but I started with what I was reading at the time, talking about series detectives that I’d recently discovered, and when I couldn’t find any new ones, I’ve filled in with musings about less recent favourites.
A more comprehensive accounting of my moody sleuths list would include the likes of Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander, Ian Rankin’s John Rebus, James Sallis’ Lew Griffin, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, Peter Robinson’s Alan Banks, Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder, James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux, et al. I expect I will get to each of them in time, but as I explain in the About section of this blog, I’m always searching for new ‘moody sleuths’ who meet my criteria.
It’s sometimes hard slogging. I read a lot of reviews, do a lot of research (thanks Google, thanks Twitter) but still I pick up and discard a lot of books. I read very few through to the end. I often despair for weeks and turn to reading ‘other’ books. If my reading life had to subsist on crime fiction I might starve.
Which brings us back to what it is about Harry Hole that makes him the kind of protagonist that attracts a following, and what it is about Harry Hole that sets him apart from other series detectives who attract a following. Well worth pondering.
Someone once told me that the secret to getting what you want is first knowing what it is you want. Perhaps I need to be more specific in my quest; if want more moody sleuths like Harry Hole, but different from Harry Hole, I need to explore what all my moody sleuths have in common, as well as what sets them apart. Sounds like a project!
Such a short post. Promise to update soon.