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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not yet fully formed., 29 Dec 2013
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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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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Jan 2014 12:59:47 GMT
Peter says:
Keith, I'm a Nesbo fan but like you I was a bit disappointed by Cockroaches. The Thai background was very thorough but like Harry's journey to Australia in The Bat, another early book, it lacked something compared with the Oslo books (for me the plot in this one was over-intricate) . I particularly enjoyed The Snowman and The Devil's Star.
In other words, not a bad book at all (there are some subtle relationships, and some exciting moments) but I think Nesbo wrote better in some of the later novels.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2014 17:11:47 GMT
Peter. I agree entirely with all you say. I am familiar with Oslo, and Norway in general, which helps my enjoyment of the Oslo books. But added to this, as you will know, they are like a serial, with characters and plot lines appearing and re appearing in several books. Harry's relationship with other colleagues, some he likes, some he hates, is always intriguing, as is his on and off relationship with Rakel and her son Oleg.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2014 20:09:42 GMT
Peter says:
That's an interesting point Keith. Maybe the continuity of colleagues helps the story along, without giving a mass of detail for each one, we immediately know them and their background, whereas in Cockroaches there are lots of new characters to be absorbed. But sometimes he handles these new characters really well. The character of Runa and her relationship or non-relationship with Harry were for me one of the best things in the book, probably because matters were hinted at rather than described in great detail.
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