Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo (#2 Harry Hole)


Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo

 Originally Published:  1998



Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo is the 2nd in the Harry Hole Norwegian crime series. 

Although released in Norway in 1998, it was not released in North America until 2013, after some of his later novels in the series. For a change, I am glad I am behind on reading Nesbo, so I get to read the series in order.

In Cockroaches, Harry is sent to Thailand to investigate the death of a Norwegian Ambassador who is found stabbed in a sleazy motel.  Harry was specifically chosen for this job.  Norwegian officials want this case closed, and closed quietly.  No scandal can surface.  Who better to send than an alcoholic who will probably not do much in the way of investigating anyway.  Unknown to the bosses, Harry is on the wagon, and determined to dig deep into this case.  In Thailand, he is introduced to the seedier side of the country. He sees that their government too, wants the case closed, but mainly because there is so much other crime they are dealing with.  

Harry finds that politically, the dead Ambassador’s associates are a bit power-hungry.  Rivalry abounds.  When it comes the Ambassador’s wife and daughter, it is a whole new ballgame.  While in Bangkok, Harry is confronted with rampant prostitution, cockfighting, and loan sharks, not to mention drug trafficking, child pornography and child prostitution.  In the middle of all this, is a murderer.

Nesbo has written about a wonderfully flawed detective who is trying his best to do a good job, and to get his life in order.  It isn’t smooth sailing.  This is the reason we love Harry Hole.  It is a fast-paced book, with Harry on a rollercoaster of emotions and with a variety of suspects.  Again, Nesbo did a lot of research on Bangkok and Thailand, and provided me with an education.  It was a really interesting read.


Read: June 2017


Favorite Quotes from Cockroaches:

“I was convinced the only insects that survived in this town were cockroaches….
‘They just exist,’ Harry repeated, not sarcastically, more reflectively.
‘They’re made like that. Made for us to want to tread on them. If there weren’t so many of them.’”

“Have you seen the children walking around selling chewing gum?’
Harry nodded. The area around the go-go bars in Patpong was teeming with them.
‘That’s the code. The chewing gum means they’re for sale.’
Harry realised with a shudder that he’d bought a packet of Wrigley’s off a barefoot, black-eyed boy, who had looked terrified, but Harry had put that down to the crowds and the noise.”

‘If you get bitten, make sure you catch the snake, so you’re given the right antidote. Then it doesn’t matter if you’re bitten a second time.’


About the Author:  Jo Nesbo (pronounced “you nesbaugh”) is a musician, songwriter, economist and author. 


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