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Cockroaches: Harry Hole 2 Paperback – 2014
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With the publication of this second novel in the Harry Hole series, all 10 Hole novels are now available in the U.S. It’s disconcerting for fans to read the series out of order (we know what demons await the beleaguered Harry), but, that aside, this is a compelling, hard-edged thriller that can stand on its own. It wasn’t until the third novel, Redbreast (2007), that the series took on its classic Scandinavian noir feel; in the opener (The Bat, 2013), Hole was sent to Australia to solve a crime involving a Norwegian, and here he’s on the road again, this time to Thailand, where the Norwegian ambassador has been found dead in a Bangkok brothel. The plot is satisfyingly twisty, with Harry wandering through the city’s notorious red-light district in search of clues and tempted by the booze and drugs that will derail him throughout the series. But we also see both Harry’s almost Holmesian flair for deductive reasoning and the sensitivity that makes him vulnerable. Don’t look to the Scandinavians for read-alikes this time; rather, try John Burdett’s Sonchai Jitpleecheep series, also set in Bangkok’s morally ambiguous demimonde. --Bill Ott --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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"As a crime novel, The Cockroaches offers excitement to the very last straw. However, this is not the only reason it is a pleasure to read it: Jo Nesbo is a master of language." Dagsavisen (Norway)
"Creepy and gruesome. Look forward to a great read." Verdens Gang (Norway)
"The Cockroaches is surprisingly fresh, compelling and radiant with the joy of writing." Helsingin Sanomat (Finland)
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Second the answer to: Is it worth going backwards through time to read this one?
Sent to Thailand in the hopes of being too drunk to solve a murder too sensitive to be solved, Harry indeed finds himself drunk, sweating, and out of his depth in Bangkok. The novel balances Harry's personal life, own demons and the murder mystery well. Focusing mostly on the action and intrigue (and some the most intense violence read by this reader for a while) with just enough contact with 'Sis' and Harry's father to tug at heart strings and drive Harry onward.
My only beef is that the epilogue is a little light - with so much carnage in this story one wants a little more loose end tying and (as far as I can recall) Redbreast does not confront these at all (aside from searing criticisms from various colleagues which is a common feature of Hole novels)
In short, while many may be worried that Cockroaches won't sit well with them after being further through the series, Harry's trip to Thailand has an almost episodic feel to it that prevents discombobulation from the timeline jumping. Also unlike some of the more dry Hole plots, Cockroaches mixes business with pleasure and mayhem in perfect balance.