When I read and reviewed The Bat early last year, a reader mentioned to me that even though that wasn’t up to my expectation, other novels in the Harry Hole series would be better. I am not one to judge a detective or a writer by one book, so it was an easy choice to read this one in the same series.
“Cockroaches” follows Detective Harry Hole as he is assigned to investigate the murder of the Norwegian ambassador in Thailand. The high profile death would have been important enough in itself, but to add to the circumstances, the ambassador was found in a motel room, a brothel no less, by a prostitute; events enough to make the front page of any newspaper in Norway. But with high profile killings come deep secrets, some that the family is reluctant to spill, and some that have to be discovered for the investigation to progress.
What any good crime story needs is pace. This one has plenty of that. It keeps the reader glued from the start itself, even with descriptions involved. Harry’s character seems different from the one in The Bat, but not a whole lot. The arrogance is still there, and it makes him the interesting character that he is, making friends and enemies as the investigation moves, bringing new characters for the reader to enjoy. The book might be a thriller or a mystery genre one, but it doesn’t limit itself to just “thrilling”. That aspect works as a flipside too, because the book feels slightly ordinary with the limited thrill. Maybe it is because the book is the second of a novel series, I found that it wasn’t as unpredictable. But I definitely think it was better than The Bat, which was too predictable. So there is progress in that regard. Another aspect to like is the realistic dialogue, with broken English given where needed. The one thing that could have been done much better is the ending.
I’m reading the series in order, so this novel seems a good read. For those who have read the later ones (the English translations were published in random order) in the series, this might not feel up to scratch. If you are reading it as standalone novels, then I think the read is definitely enjoyable.
Series: Harry Hole #2
Author: Jo Nesbo
Translator: Don Bartlett
Genre: Crime Fiction
Publisher: Harvill Secker/RHI
Price: Rs. 399
(21st September 2014)