The Bat & Live by Night

The are two reads for my local mystery book club.  The Bat was on my TBR anyway and now the series is up for a future read in my group so I wanted to get started.  Live by Night is this month’s read.

Live by Night is my first Dennis Lehane novel.   I finished the last 200 pages or so this morning as part of the Dewey’s readathon.  This is more of gangster novel set in prohibition than a mystery.  It reminded me of the old Jimmy Cagney movies I used to watch as a child.  I didn’t find Joe Coughlin a likeable or even sympathetic protagonist and while that is not a requirement for me to read a novel, there was not really anything else here to keep me reading.  I found this novel a real struggle to keep going.  The best part of the book, where there actually seemed to be some movement and emotion that resonated was the last 20 pages or so.  There was lots of history regarding prohibition and the effects it had on crime and economics.  There is also discussion of Cuba and its politics during that time period.  If this is a field of interest to you, you might enjoy those aspects of the novel.

The Bat is the first Harry Hole novel.  I really like Nordic crime fiction and have wanted to read this series for a while.  I was a little disappointed because the book was not set in Sweden as I expected, but rather Australia.  Harry has traveled to Australia to investigate the murder of a Swedish citizen there.  Harry meets several vividly drawn characters, fighters, circus performers, drug dealers, and members of Sidney’s vibrant nightlife community.  His investigation uncovers connections to other crimes and a possible serial killer.  There are some references to events from Australia’s history and the treatment of the aboriginal population all tied into investigation.

This was a relatively quick read, although it sometimes felt as though Harry was spinning his heels.  It was not my favorite Nordic crime series, but it is only the first in the series and sometimes a series needs a couple of books to hit its stride.  I definitely liked it well enough to read the next couple books.

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