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De kakkerlak by Jo Nesbo

De kakkerlak (original 1998; edition 2012)

by Jo Nesbo, Annelies De Vroom

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7233212,995 (3.59)47
Title:De kakkerlak
Authors:Jo Nesbo
Other authors:Annelies De Vroom
Info:Amsterdam De Bezige Bij 2012

Work details

Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo (1998)

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English (21)  Swedish (3)  German (2)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
[Cross-posted to Knite Writes]

My Take

Interestingly, I did not finish reading the first book in this series — because it was terrible — and usually that would be the end of a series for me. But, I did my research on the Harry Hole series and discovered that, almost unanimously, fans don’t think the series gets good until book three. (Which may or may not be why the first two books weren’t translated until VERY recently.) Regardless, I decided to stick with this series and check out book two before I moved on to the books that are generally accepted as being the “real” start of Nesbø’s well-written detective series.

And it wasn’t too bad.

But it wasn’t great either.

The biggest downside to this book is that the plot is occasionally hard to follow. There’s a lot of jumping from hour to hour, day to day, location to location with very little transition effort between scenes and chapters. And because there are so many characters (most of them minor) and so many places (with Thai names), the sudden shifts can be rather jarring and difficult to keep track of. Now, one could say Nesbø doesn’t waste time, true, but when the actual murder mystery is as complicated as Nesbø’s are, struggling to follow the movements of the protagonist can be very irritating, especially when you reach key scenes in the book.

On the upside, as mentioned, the murder mystery itself is well plotted and well executed. All the red herrings are there. All the subtle foreshadowing and carefully hidden clues. Nesbø stuffs so many clues that are obvious in hindsight ONLY into his story that it’s pretty incredible the book isn’t full of plot holes. Obviously, Nesbø is an excellent plotter when it comes to the core of his stories. And really, that’s what makes this book satisfying in the end, despite its shortcomings structure-wise. The actual mystery is truly difficult to unravel ahead of time, and you always feel challenged throughout the book to try and figure out the answers before Harry does.

(And generally, you won’t. The twists and turns will still surprise you. By the time you hit the last page, you won’t be able to call the plot “predictable”, no matter what thought a hundred pages back.)

Character-wise, too, I think Nesbø succeeds on many fronts. He brings in a large and diverse cast whose roles are all important in some way to the core story but who aren’t solely created for it. They have lives and backstories that are mentioned as necessary but don’t overwhelm the main story. Nesbø achieves a good balance with his characters — they all advance the plot without butting in too much or too often. And Harry, as the protagonist, is an interesting guy to follow — an interesting guy with MAJOR issues that always affect the plot in interesting ways.

I think Cockroaches is a definite improvement over The Bat, which I couldn’t bring myself to finish. Structurally, though, it still has a few issues and can be hard to follow at times. I look forward to see how much Nesbø improved between this book and The Redbreast, which fans of the series generally consider to be where the author hits his stride.

Overall, a decent read. ( )
1 vote TherinKnite | Aug 27, 2014 |
Book 2, in the Harry Hole series

“Cockroaches” is, in fact, the second outing for the detective, making a belated appearance in translation in Canada. It employs similar shock tactics found in the first book “The Bat” sending the Norwegian sleuth out of his comfort zone smack into unknown territory. This time we find Harry in the picturesque seediness of Bangkok....

Sent to Thailand by his boss to investigate the death of the Norwegian ambassador in a seedy motel room Harry soon discovers that he will need to unravel layers of deception before he could get to the bottom of his investigation and solve the case.

While deep into his hunt for the whodunit we have a glimpse into the excesses of expat life, travel the seedy underbelly of a vibrant city and plunged into the corruption of those wanting to protect their positions. The setting makes for the perfect backdrop for this novel where Harry out of his natural element excels in what he is doing. His character is handled with authority and so is the large cast of colourful and dynamic supporting players. In this early installment we get to know the background about Harry’s family life and romantic history and that helps making sense of his self-destructive streak and battles with addiction that continue throughout the series. The plot is a real guessing game complete package when it comes to suspense and mystery but the drama gets overly done, loosed a bit of tempo as it stirs up a few nerves and cracks its solid punch at the end.

I like this series for its entertainment and its exotic local . ( )
  Tigerpaw70 | Jun 7, 2014 |
This is the first Harry Hole crime story that I've read and I'll be back for more. In this one, Harry travels to Bangkok and the behest of politicians who want him to investigate the murder of a diplomat. But in doing so, he is not to "stir things up".
Well, of course things get stirred up. There are twists, turns, and plenty of red herrings to keep the reader engaged. Not to mention the violent fight scene at the end that makes Harry seem almost super human as the reader cheers him on.

Great suspense for summer reading. Must go back and read the first in the series to fill in the holes (pun intended). ( )
  tangledthread | May 29, 2014 |
The English reading world was introduced to Harry Hole in the middle of things which, if you think about it, is often how we meet people in actual life. We're more likely to pop in and out of lives, filling in the the missing details and background as we go along. It is only with a small, select group, that we know them from start to finish.

With The Bat, we met Harry, already fully-formed and fully-broken, only to break again. In cockroaches the "newest" Hole to be published in English, but in actuality, the second in the series, we travel with Harry to Bangkok, where he is sent to investigate the irregular death (aka murder) of the Norwegian ambassador. It's a gritty, duplicitous, deceptive world and slice of society where Harry does what Harry does best: follows his gut, sometimes stumbling and usually pissing off the wrong people. But, for those of us who love Nesbo's series, getting this backstory, was grand. Even if you haven't read others in this series (which primarily come after this one), this is a good psychological thriller with which to jump on the Hole bandwagon.

It's no wonder I really dislike cockroaches, dirty little buggers, every one. ( )
  bookczuk | May 6, 2014 |
Nesbo certainly creates one mega fast pace read. Turning the pages at lightening speed is easy with all the nonstop action. Plenty of ugliness and toughness as the story rolls on.

I rejoiced in the combination of dual cultures - Norwegian and Thai. Nesbo's skill comes to the surface as he masters the differences and segments of the two cultures explaining their individuality flawlessly.

Nesbo delivered one heck of a crime story with a witty edge full of charisma, loads of twists and a hard nosed hero named Harry Hole. Full of waylays and uncertainty promising to keep the reader entertained and guessing.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review ( )
  Melinda_H | Apr 22, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jo Nesboprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bartlett, DonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Het licht sprong op groen en het gebrul van de auto's, de motorfietsen en de tuktuks zwol aan tot Dim de ruiten van Robertson Department Store zag trillen.
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When the Norwegian ambassador to Thailand is found dead in a Bangkok brothel, Inspector Harry Hole is dispatched from Oslo to help hush up the case. But once he arrives Harry discovers that this case is about much more than one random murder. There is something else, something more pervasive, scrabbling around behind the scenes. Or, put another way, for every cockroach you see in your hotel room, there are hundreds behind the walls. Surrounded by round-the-clock traffic noise, Harry wanders the streets of Bangkok lined with go-go bars, temples, opium dens, and tourist traps, trying to piece together the story of the ambassador's death even though no one asked him to, and no one wants him to, not even Harry himself.… (more)

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