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Cockroaches:An Early Harry Hole Case    by Jo Nesbo order for
by Jo Nesbo
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, Audio, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Cockroaches follows The Bat as the second in the Harry Hole series - these first episodes have only been recently released in North America and though I will read anything that Jo Nesbo writes, I find that these early thrillers are not as assured as his later works.

While The Bat gave us Harry's perspectives on Aussie life, Cockroaches takes him to Bangkok, Thailand, where Norway's ambassador has been found dead in compromising circumstances, with a rare knife in his back. Norwegian authorities want a superficial investigation and quick closure. Harry, who is an alcoholic but received plenty of media attention for his success in Australia, seems the perfect man for the job.

But the suits in the diplomatic corps should know better than to underestimate Harry's pigheaded persistence once a case catches his interest. He works it alongside hairless, blue-eyed (half-Thai, half American) Homicide Inspector Liz Crumley, whose first words to Harry are an admonition to sober up. At the scene they find disturbing photographs of child ponography in the ambassador's briefcase. They also learn that he had money problems.

Harry interviews and befriends the diplomat's lovely daughter Runa, and is surprised by her revelations about her parents. He also probes into the dead man's relationships with influential Norwegian expats in Bangkok, including building contractor Ove Klipra and currency broker Jens Brekke.

Harry is almost drowned and has painful close encounters with a mafia henchman, a 'mountain of flesh and muscle'. He only survives because he knows something the killer does not. As always, he solves the case, but adds another heavy burden to the weighty load of regrets he carries on his back. Cockroaches is a must read for the legion of Harry Hole fans.

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