Cockroaches – Jo Nesbo

This is an early Harry Hole crime story, recently published, and features the woes and worries of one of my favorite defective detectives, on a mission to Thailand.

The Norwegian ambassador has been found, murdered, in a brothel. Harry is sent to investigate the murder and keep a lid on things, following orders from his political masters. Of course, Harry is not that great at following political orders, having vague notions of justice, right, and wrong. So, the investigation sets off one or two other violent events, and matters start to snowball. But back in Norway, they want him to finish the case off, nice and neat. And yesterday.

The book is a great page turner, but takes the time to portray an authentic Thai background including – inevitably – the sex tourism industry.

The plot goes through various twists and turns, while being unravelled, and Harry comes across some fascinating characters. The violence, and the threat of it, seems to be always hiding in the shadows and Nesbo is especially talented at judging how to balance this, and the capabilities of his characters. There are no supermen here, and it’s not only bad people who come to a grisly end.

If there’s a minor weakness, it is that the plot just about goes to the absolute limit of the suspension of disbelief necessary to make the story work. However, the writing is top notch, the detective as freshly troubling and enthralling as always, and the author’s social and political observations are razor sharp.  A great read.