About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cockroaches by Jo Nesbø and translated by Don Bartlett

Cockroaches by Jo Nesbø and translated by Don Bartlett – The second Harry Hole books starts with Harry drunk every minute he is off duty. He has switched from Jim Beam whiskey to beer but daily drinks while off duty until drunk. He is managing to show up sober for work but is just going through the motions. His mind is deteriorating:

"Harry closed the door to his flat, shouted that he was home and nodded with satisfaction when there was no answer. Monsters came in all shapes and sizes, but so long as they weren’t waiting for him in the kitchen when he came home there was a chance he would have an undisturbed night’s sleep."

Abruptly he is he called into his Chief’s office as he is being sent again far out of Norway to deal with the death of a Norwegian citizen. In The Bat, my last post, he went to Sydney, Australia. In this book he goes to Bangkok, Thailand because the Norwegian Ambassador, Atle Molnes, has been found murdered in a hotel whose clientele are customers from the First World meeting prostitutes.

Harry has achieved celebrity for solving the Australian case and is a suitably high profile officer to be sent to Thailand. With his excessive drinking official expectations for a real investigation are low which accords with their desire for a quiet solution to the murder.

Harry leverages his position to get a promise to fully investigate his sister’s rape when he returns from Thailand.

The weather is just as hot as in Australia but in Thailand the humidity is exhausting for the Norwegian visitor.

Nesbø, as in The Bat, has a striking police inspector with whom Harry is to work. He describes Liz Crumley:

The head acquired a body, and Harry had to blink twice to assure himself that he wasn’t seeing things. Crumley was broad-shouldered and almost as tall as Harry; the hairless skull had pronounced jaw muscles and two intensely blue eyes about a thin, straight mouth. The uniform was a pale blue shirt, a large pair of Nike trainers and a skirt.

They get along well as Liz tolerates Harry’s idiosyncrasies.

Liz takes Harry to examine the body which has been left on the bed at the motel where the air conditioning has been running to keep the body tolerable. Harry determines the murder was unlikely related to prostitution and was well planned.

As he meets the dysfunctional Molnes family Harry realizes they must be carefully examined. The widow, Hilde, is even deeper in her gin bottle than Harry is into his beer bottles. Barely mourning she cares little about her husband’s death. Teenage daughter, Runa, is beautiful and bitter. She has a prosthesis over her withered right arm.

On delving into the Ambassador’s life Harry is drawn into contact with several expatriates from Norway. Each has his own connection with Molnes.

With the circumstances of his death, being found in a motel room for which a prostitute had an assignation contracted and was waiting a call at the office, and the setting of Bangkok there are sexual issues involved in the case.

I expect most readers will be like myself in assuming the issues involve sex with children. The story proves far more complex.

Just as in The Bat, Harry provokes some very bad men. In that part of his approach to investigation he reminds me of Spenser’s penchant for prodding.

I enjoyed the book but not as much as The Bat. The violence quotient was higher in this book and I found the ending unnecessarily twisted.

Harry is coping with his private demons but not addressing them whether he is drunk or sober.

I had read The Devil’s Star in 2006. I am now going back to see what I felt about Harry at that time and my next post will be about that book and my past and present thoughts on Harry. (Jan. 11/14)


  1. Bill - I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I often wish that this series had been translated in order. Then it would be easier to see Harry's development as a character. And on another note I agree with you about the violence level in some of this series ('though I confess I've not (yet) read this one). But I'm not one for a whole lot of graphic violence anyway unless it's critical to the plot.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. It will be one of my observations in my next post that I wish I could have read these books before reading The Devil's Star. I would have understood Harry's character better.

  2. Soon comes The Redbreast Bill, and I would very much like to hear what you thinl of it.

    1. Jose Ignacio: Thanks for the comment. I think I now need a little break from Nesbo though you tempt me to keep reading the series.

  3. I'm intrigued that you have taken these books so much that you read 2 in quick succession - as you said in the other review, you wouldn't normally do that! I have not read Nesbo at all, but with all these great recommendations I should give him a try.

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. I hope you give Nesbo. I do not recall much about clothes to look forward to in either book. Harry has no care about fashion.

  4. I've only skimmed the review as I'm hoping to read this sometime soon. I see you mostly enjoyed it though, which is to the good.

  5. col: Thanks for the comment. I look forward to your thoughts on the book.

  6. I sure hope I get to at least one Jo Nesbo book this year. Last year I meant to but did not. After reading your recent enthusiastic reviews, I am looking forward to reading both this one and The Bat.

  7. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. I think you will enjoy the books.

  8. (SPOILER ALERT) I know it's been long since you wrote this but I just read the book and I wanted to talk about it. While I really liked the book I totally agree with you about the ending, too twisted. The final scene in the karaoke place was too long in my opinion, it felt dragged, too complicated.