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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant!
"Cockroaches" is the second Harry Hole novel. The action this time moves to Bangkok where Harry is sent to investigate the murder of the Norwegian Ambassador. He finds his investigation hampered by those in authority back in Oslo, but Harry is not one to bow to authority. He may be an alcoholic but Hole is a fine detective.
I really enjoyed this book. As with "The...
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "This is pretty hard to follow, Harry."
English speakers were first introduced to the work of Norwegian author Jo Nesbo and his damaged main character Harry Hole, in 2006, with the publication of The Redbreast, the third book in the Harry Hole series, a novel so good that it won the award for Best Norwegian Crime Novel Ever Written, as chosen by Norwegian Book Clubs. Now, after eight enormously successful...
Published 9 months ago by Mary Whipple


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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant!, 30 Nov 2013
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"Cockroaches" is the second Harry Hole novel. The action this time moves to Bangkok where Harry is sent to investigate the murder of the Norwegian Ambassador. He finds his investigation hampered by those in authority back in Oslo, but Harry is not one to bow to authority. He may be an alcoholic but Hole is a fine detective.
I really enjoyed this book. As with "The Bat" it gives a great insight into Harry Hole's early days. One need not have read the other books in the series, in fact "Cockroaches" can be read as a stand alone, but it would be a shame to miss out on a great series.
I would recommend "Cockroaches". It is simply brilliant.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "This is pretty hard to follow, Harry.", 1 Jan 2014
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cockroaches: An early Harry Hole case (Harry Hole 2) (Hardcover)
English speakers were first introduced to the work of Norwegian author Jo Nesbo and his damaged main character Harry Hole, in 2006, with the publication of The Redbreast, the third book in the Harry Hole series, a novel so good that it won the award for Best Norwegian Crime Novel Ever Written, as chosen by Norwegian Book Clubs. Now, after eight enormously successful novels in that series, Nesbo's publishers have published the first two novels of the series, The Bat (1997), and Cockroaches (1998), written when Nesbo was a much less accomplished novelist than he has become in the fifteen years that have passed since they were originally written.

In Cockroaches, Detective Harry Hole is chosen by the Norwegian Foreign Office to go to Thailand to investigate the murder of Norway's ambassador to Thailand, who has been found in a brothel with an elaborate old knife in his back. Hole himself is a psychological mess, an alcoholic trying to stay sober, and he has no interest in going to Thailand, even for a short time, to investigate this murder. He suspects he has been chosen because they expect him to fail so the foreign office can close the case without revealing nasty and embarrassing details publicly.

In Bangkok, Harry gets started on the case and quickly discovers that the ambassador was a practitioner of many perversions, including paedophilia and child pornography. The knife used to kill him belonged to the most powerful heroin dealer in history, who now finances most of the new hotels in Burma and manages the opium trade in the north of Thailand. In addition, the ambassador is addicted to gambling and is indebted to loan sharks. By the time the novel reaches page one hundred, a large number of characters and an equally large number of criminal enterprises and perversions have been mentioned as the investigation of the ambassador's murder goes off in many different directions. Eventually, even currency trading and the bankruptcy of a major firm have their moments in the spotlight.

Additional grisly murders take place as the novel progresses, but they are presented primarily through talk and not through action scenes, leaving the novel with surprisingly little drama, lacking the kind of tension which has made the other Harry Hole novels so compelling. As more and more threads take Harry in many additional directions, the reader quickly becomes as frustrated as the detective, since real connections which would draw the reader into all the threads and create interest in all the characters are unclear. Mistaken identity, betrayals, and surprise revelations do create suspense, but part of that suspense here lies in to trying to figure out how, if at all, Harry Hole is going to make sense of this whole, complicated mess.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not yet fully formed., 29 Dec 2013
By 
Keith Douglas (Wales,UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cockroaches: An early Harry Hole case (Harry Hole 2) (Hardcover)
My first Harry Hole novel was `the Redeemer', an odd place to start, but the book was in Sainsbury's, so I bought it on impulse. It was excellent, so I then bought `the Redbreast', the first of the Oslo books, but now the third book overall, as the two books originally only available abroad are now in English too.
So `Cockroaches' is the second book.
Confused yet?
I looked forward to both `the Bat'(the first book) and this second book, and although both are very good, they are not, for me, a patch on the later books, all set in Norway.
In the same way as Morse away from Oxford was never the same, or Wallander out of Ystad, Harry Hole is a product of Oslo, and it is in his native Norway that we get his full character and personality traits that make him such an appealing, if flawed, man.
In Cockroaches he has been once again sent abroad to solve the murder of a Norwegian national, this time the Ambassador. The action this time takes place in Bangkok, Thailand, and the atmosphere is well drawn, giving us the feeling of claustrophobia and suffocation of the overcrowded and polluted Thai capital.
We get hints of Harry's background, and his demons, but as in `the Bat', set in Australia, I felt as if he was far more superficial a character than in the Oslo novels.
If you are coming anew to Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole novels, by all means read them in order, starting with `the Bat', then Cockroaches.
But I would suggest that you would probably find starting at `the Redbreast' just as fulfilling, and you would not miss any information about Harry that you don't find out later.
And once you have read `the Redbreast' you will have to read the rest of the books, they are addictive!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OK, I'M CONVERTED, 8 Jun 2014
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This is my third Jo Nesbo book (I started with 'The Son' and then began the Harry Hole series with 'The Bat') and now I'm hooked. This was, actually, the second book that Joe Nesbo published (in Norway) and some reviewers have commented that he hadn't hit his full stride by then. Well, if this isn't his best effort, then I look forward to the next in the series (The Redbreast) 'cos 'Cockroaches' is brilliant.

The story is immensely convoluted with a rich cast of characters that all have real depth. Bangcock itself is a character with it's steaming heat, humidity, traffic and teeming humanity and JN makes the most of this seedily exotic setting. I love Jeffery Deaver novels (well, most of them anyway) for their plot twists and misdirection and, although Jo Nesbo's style is slightly different, the effect is the same. The result is that, once you finish a story, you want to re-read it, but this time knowing what's really going on. I really thrive on clever writing and labyrinthine plots and Mr Nesbo is a master, keeping it all, just, within tolerable levels of credulity.

'The Bat' ends with a climax within which Harry has misjudged his opponent and has to race to save the damsel. In 'Cockroaches', it's the same scenario. The endings to both books are different, and both make good reading, but I hope that this formula is not repeated in the next book.

There is a discernible difference between the writing style of 'The Bat' and 'Cockroaches' and the later book is, quite clearly, more controlled, better edited and more assured; the marks of an improving author but improving from a damn good original standard.

I have two, incredibly pedantic, grumbles. The first is that the identity of the real villain is supposed to be the subject of a big 'reveal' very late in the plot, but Mr Nesbo's clumsy handling two thirds of the way through, telegraphs the identity of the real 'nasty' too soon. That didn't spoil things too much for me as there was part of me thinking in double bluff - "surely JN wouldn't make it so obvious so it must be a red herring" - it isn't!

My second grumble is true geeky pedantry I'm afraid. The detail of the handguns used by villains and heroes alike is revealed to be unusually important to the end of the story. It's a bit of a cheat as most readers won't know the vital salient fact that makes the ending work and it isn't hinted at earlier in the story, but I like the fact that the reader isn't lead by the hand (I don't subscribe to the notion that an author must set out all of the facts so that a reader can solve the crime; life isn't like that). The problem is that there are two guns supposedly chosen as the weapon of choice by two, tough and highly experienced, heroes and, in reality, they would be poor choices. The ending makes clear why one of these choices was made, but it is, nevertheless, a poor choice. More glaringly, the main female hero, Liz Crumley, is a big, tough, bald 'bad-ass' woman who is, at least, a match for any of the male characters. Yet she, supposedly, chooses as her sidearm a gun that fires .22 calibre rimfire ammunition. This gun is notorious for being underpowered, unreliable and, as an aside, the ammunition is rare and expensive. Would our highly experienced heroine really choose this? To me, it seems that Mr Nesbo did a bit of internet searching and didn't spend enough time considering his choices. That would have been OK if the guns weren't such a central part of the story but, Mr Nesbo, the Ruger should have been a Smith & Wesson (that's what a highly skilled and experienced 'special ops' operator would have chosen)!

OK, I know that my geek's rant has now discredited my whole review, but, hey, I enjoyed it! Cockroaches is still a great book so, if you're reading this review prior to making a decision, just buy it; you won't be sorry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you didn't already, meet Harry Hole, a different type of Detective, 28 Nov 2013
By 
Denis Vukosav - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cockroaches: An early Harry Hole case (Harry Hole 2) (Hardcover)
"Cockroaches" by Jo Nesbø is second novel in his Harry Hole series that introduced readers to his unusual dark hero Detective.

After first novel that was set in Australia, Detective Harry Hole is back in Oslo, but soon will be again away from his country, this time in hot Bangkok, Thailand due to the death of Norwegian ambassador who has been found dead in a motel room, without any witnesses.

And due to his previous good relations that were more than political with prime minister, Detective is sent to avoid a scandal in media and to calm the situation.
After Harry will arrive, he'll soon realize that there is much more than just the released official story, and that almost no one wants to speak about events related to ambassador.

He will acquire some video material that he expects will help solving the mystery, but that will complicate case even more especially when the man who gave him this footage will be gone.
The Detective will learn that as in his previous case he isn't only the one who tries to solve this case, but someone who is in danger as well...

Jo Nesbø in this as in his previously published novel is back with a different literary style than what the thriller fans are mostly used to.

Instead of some very clever main character who lives near-perfect family life, reader meets dark hero, guy with multiple character issues, who has problems with alcoholism and finding love, who is lonely and with heavy burden on his soul due to the incident from the past that had connection with his career.

With such main character, the author successfully avoids falling into various clichés that often characterizes most thriller releases, which along with unusual and sometimes exotic cases make his thrillers so popular and different.

In this novel, besides main thriller story, author commented multiple aspects of Thailand culture and society in general that is a great setting for this murder case investigation.
As in previous release with Australian, it's evident that Thai culture was well-researched by author that makes the story even more interesting, and gives plenty of space for author to play with the reader by providing lot of unexpected story twists and turns.

Also, this book is a bit shorter than the size that reader is accustomed although this doesn't mean that because of that is of lower quality than the other installments.

"Cockroaches" is good read for Jo Nesbø fans, although it's not as scary as some of his adventures that were released later in the series.

Also, this one could be read as stand alone, although for the full experience my suggestion is to read Jo Nesbø novels in chronological order enabling you slowly get to know him as a character.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Flat, featureless and simply boring!, 2 Aug 2014
By 
comm88 "comm88" (Chester, Cheshire) - See all my reviews
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Not good. Not at all. Thin on characters. Sparse on plot. Lumpy where it should be smooth. Confusing where it should be clear. Very, very hard to track and follow. You're left feeling - Who was who and how and why did that happen? It would have been better as a comic book, I think. At least the action and story mighty have made more sense in a linear styled development! As I've said elsewhere, I've read all of his stuff, but this and The Son are far and away the poorest stuff he's ever done. This will be deleted from my Kindle as "meaningless trivia". Not one I would ever recommend, or try to read again. (Life's just too short!!) Ordinary, lacklustre and confusing. If I were you, I'd give it a miss. It's a real turkey.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Holes in the Harry Hole Thriller (SPOILER ALERT), 9 Oct 2014
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Having heard so much praise for Jo Nesbo and being disappointed with the first of the Harry Hole Thrillers, I really wanted to like this one. And up to Chapter 34 I was enjoying it and thought it would be a 3 if not 4-star book. However once I read this chapter it all fell apart for me. I had two suspects from earlier in the book and while I was wondering why some connections haven't been explored by police, it didn't make the story bad. But in Chapter 34 the murderer became so obvious the rest of the book felt as if the author wanted to write a few more chapters just for the sake of making the book longer and throw a few more dead bodies in. The alibi was so clearly fake it was much worse than no alibi at all. Since when the police check the physical fixed line phone to see if the alleged phone call was made from a certain location at a certain time and not the records with the phone companies? And this alibi was actually called "stone proof" in a book by police officers and success of the allegedly clever plan depended on it. Really? I got bored and annoyed with the book after that. Story from interesting turned into a silly one. The very last murder also was totally unnecessary. Since even Harry Hole had worked out by that time who the murderer was and tied all the ends he needed to tie why did he tip him off knowing that he was very dangerous? And then how come he described the killer as not taking many chances when it was clearly a very reckless and risky plan from the start, hanging on a pure chance? Too many loose ends and unanswered questions and unnecessary details all-around - why the door was left unlocked, what happened to the ambassador's phone, was ambassador wearing his jacket when he was killed? How long does it actually take to clean the car? The time line was too tight despite the author's freedom to expand it a little to make the story slightly more believable. Nesbo introduced too many details but failed to tie them up neatly, he nailed his suspect too early and ruined the book by letting him go on ridiculous premises. Crime fiction is not a fantasy, it needs to have relevance to how things in the real world work.

The book that started quite promising ended up being even worse than The Bat... I still gave it 2 stars because despite flaws and holes in the story, I enjoyed the writing style, the way the characters and relationships between then develop, the sense of place, but this is not enough for a successful crime thriller. It needs to make sense and it doesn't in this case. So based on this I am far from being convinced that (a) Harry Hole is a good detective worth his salary and (b) Jo Nesbo can write a good crime thriller. Maybe a script for a trash movie with shoot and chase, but not a book. As a book it should have never been published and a good editor should have made the author re-write the story in a way that would make more sense, which is indispensable for a crime thriller about police investigation.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Nesbo's Laughing Gnome?, 19 Aug 2014
This book was written prior to Nesbo's international breakthrough and it's that success that prompted the translation of the first two books in the series, The Bat - set mostly in Sydney - and this, Cockroaches - set mostly in Bangkok.

It's not a bad book and, indeed, there's much that shows why later books will become international bestsellers. The story is fast-paced, the setting well-evoked and it doesn't shy from difficult themes, like child sexual exploitation in this book. But Harry, in even more alcoholic and recovering alcoholic mode than in later books, is actually rather unlikeable. And the cast of characters is bewildering. I'm not sure what the Ambassador's wife brings to the party - another alcoholic, by the way - and the convoluted way in which various Norwegians meet their grisly ends leaves even Harry's bizarre bald, tall, female Thai-American sidekick baffled as Harry draws the threads together. 'It's difficult to follow,' she says and it's hard not to agree.

I understand the all-conquering hero cannot die - there'd be no ongoing story, would there, I get that - but Harry cheats near-certain death again and again, recovers instantaneously and on we go to the next bloodbath. Harry's involvement in this case in the first place is all rather tenuous pointing to high-level Norwegian government interest in the Ambassador's death. Which all gets sort of explained but isn't particularly convincing. Let's be honest: even if you were going to cast morality aside and post a known paedophile as Ambassador my guess is that South East Asia wouldn't be high on the list of likely locations.

This was all like buying the 1967 Deram/Decca World of David Bowie album: there are some good bits, signs of a voice worth listening to but the really good stuff is still a few years off. So the book sells because of the Nesbo name. His Laughing Gnome?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 29 Jan 2014
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cockroaches: An early Harry Hole case (Harry Hole 2) (Hardcover)
After Nesbo messed with all our heads in Police: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 8) (Harry Hole 10), we now have an early Harry Hole novel to refresh ourselves with. Chronologically it seems to fit just after The Bat: The First Harry Hole Case (Harry Hole 1) and that's may have been how they were originally released in Norway.

Cockroaches is set in Bangkok and as with The Bat (which was set in Sydney), you get a feel that Nesbo spent a great deal of time soaking up the sights and sounds which he translates to the page in a totally believable manner. As this is only the second Hole novel, it is also refreshingly missing the baggage of the most recent few Hole stories. The plot cracks along and a cast of intriguing (with a mix of believability) characters come and go.

Highly recommended. One day I must read the whole series in order...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Adios, 22 Dec 2013
By 
prisrob "pris," (New England USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cockroaches: An early Harry Hole case (Harry Hole 2) (Hardcover)
I have read most of the Jo Nesbo books with Harry Hole at the helm. Finally, I have a picture of Harry Hole, from Nesbo's second book featuring Hole. He is a tall, blonde Norwegian. Reall?

Cockroaches was written in 1998, I have no idea why it has taken this long for the book to be translated and given to us, Jo Nesbo's fans. The first book was translated last year, 'The Bat', so I gather the books are coming in order of translation. In this book we come to know more about Harry Hole, and I really appreciate Jo Nesbo's writing mind.

Harry Hole is ordered to Bangkok by his superior in Oslo. It seems Harry Hole has a great reputation after his previous case, and he is told to solve this case with a minimum of public notice. It appears that the Norwegian ambassador is murdered in a motel, under very suspicious circumstances. It also appears that the ambassador's family has secrets. Harry meets the police group he is to work with, and that is a surprise! Harry works hard and in covers many clues that leads him to a certain person. Ah, ha, they gave the murderer, but not so fast a second murder occurs, and everything breaks wide open. This will not be easy to keep on the lay low.

As with most of Nesbo's books about Harry Hole,Harry has little difficulty acclimating to his environment. The seedy side of Bangkok seems to be the place for Harry. The sex underground though disgusting, is a very big part of Bangkok and the tourists. And, Harry finds his way. The writing continues to be fascinating and in depth. Violent and fact with sudden quick jabs is the way Harry operates. A novel well done!

Recommended. prisrob 12-22-13
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Cockroaches: An early Harry Hole case (Harry Hole 2)
Cockroaches: An early Harry Hole case (Harry Hole 2) by Jo Nesbo (Hardcover - 28 Nov 2013)
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