Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Cockroaches (Harry Hole #2) by Jo Nesbo--Book Review

Photo: Jo Nesbo, from his official website

Extremely well-written follow-up to Nesbo's The Bat, this book takes Hole's character and adds a little more depth to him.  We see more of his sister, and we see the ex-girlfriend, Kristin--mentioned in the first book--even more here, to good effect.  The girlfriend from the first novel is mentioned frequently here, too, as is his compunction for alcohol--though he may have a new drug of choice by the end of this one.  But then, if I had to spend this much time in the traffic and heat and humidity of Bangkok, Thailand, I might feel the need as well.  (I'm a wuss; I need the central air.)

Anyway, the plot of this novel is quite intricate, though the reader shouldn't be hard-pressed to figure out who done it.  The "Why?" and the "How?" may throw the reader; however, when you learn the how, you won't feel badly about not figuring it out.  Nobody would, or could, have.  Except Hole, of course, who is so good at this kind of thing that two characters openly marvel at it.

Nesbo, the Raymond Chandler of Nordic Noir, writes a book that is a classic of its kind.  The bad guy is memorable, as well, especially in a scene right out of Titus Andronicus near the end.  (This has to be on purpose, because Hole finishes it all off with an instrument from Shakespeare's early play as well.)  I always saw the guy who plays Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones as the villain, though I'm not sure he's described that way.  Weird.  At any rate, Nesbo varies the writing a bit here from his last: some chapters show the villain straight out doing his villainy, especially at the end; more chapters start off with a minor character's POV before quickly focusing on Hole once again.  A couple of chapters don't feature Hole at all, which is also different from the first book.  (I think only one chapter was without Hole in the first book.)

I read this book in less than 24 hours.  I'm on vacation, so I can do that.  You might not, but you'll read it quickly.  It's that good.  And as openly depressing as its predecessor, so be forewarned.

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