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The Bat by Jo Nesbo - Fiction
The electrifying first appearance of Jo Nesbø's detective, Harry Hole.
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Excerpted from Chapter 1
Something was wrong.
At first the female passport official had beamed: "How are ya, mate?"
"I'm fine," Harry Hole had lied. It was more than thirty hours since he had taken off from Oslo via London, and after the change of planes in Bahrain he had sat in the same bloody seat by the emergency exit. For security reasons it could only be tipped back a little, and his lumbar region had almost crumbled by the time they reached Singapore.
And now the woman behind the counter was no longer smiling.
She had scrutinized his passport with conspicuous interest. Whether it was the photograph or his name that had initially put her in such a cheery mood was hard to say.
Harry Hole had a suspicion that passport officials in most places in the world would have added a "sir," but he had read that this type of formal pleasantry wasn't especially widespread in Australia. It didn't really matter; Harry wasn't particularly accustomed to foreign travel or snobbish—all he wanted was a hotel room and a bed as quickly as possible.
"Yes," he had replied, drumming his fingers on the counter.
And that was when her lips had pursed, turned ugly and articulated, with a pointed tone: "Why isn't there a visa in your passport, sir?"
His heart sank, as it invariably did when there was a hint of a catastrophe in the offing. Perhaps "sir" was used only when situations became critical?
"Sorry, I forgot," Harry mumbled, searching feverishly through his inside pockets. Why had they not been able to pin a special visa in his passport as they do with standard visas? Behind him in the queue he heard the faint drone of a Walkman and realized it was his traveling companion from the plane. He had been playing the same cassette the whole flight. Why the hell could he never remember which pocket he put things in? It was hot as well, even though it was getting on for ten o'clock at night. Harry could feel his scalp beginning to itch.
At last he found the document and placed it on the counter, to his great relief.
"Police officer, are you?"
The passport official looked up from the special visa and studied him, but the pursed mouth was gone.
"I hope no Norwegian blondes have been murdered?"
She chuckled and smacked the stamp down hard on the special visa.
"Well, just the one," Harry Hole answered.
The arrivals hall was crowded with travel reps and limousine drivers, holding up signs with names on, but not a Hole in sight. He was on the point of grabbing a taxi when a black man wearing light blue jeans and a Hawaiian shirt, and with an unusually broad nose and dark, curly hair plowed a furrow between the signs and came striding toward him.
"Mr. Holy, I presume!" he declared triumphantly.
Harry Hole considered his options. He had decided to spend the first days in Australia correcting the pronunciation of his surname so that he wouldn't be confused with apertures or orifices. Mr. Holy however, was infinitely preferable.
"Andrew Kensington. How are ya?" the man grinned and stuck out an enormous fist.
It was nothing less than a juice extractor.
"Welcome to Sydney. Hope you enjoyed the flight," the stranger said with evident sincerity, like an echo of the air hostess's announcement twenty minutes earlier. He took Harry's battered suitcase and began to walk toward the exit without a backward glance. Harry kept close to him.
"Do you work for Sydney police?" he initiated.
"Sure do, mate. Watch out!"
The swing door hit Harry in the face, right on...
The BatBy: Jo Nesbo