Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo (inbetweeny)

This was my first venture in to modern literature for a while and I was looking forward to it. I had previous read The Bat (number 1 in the Harry Hole series) then rather randomly, The Redbreast (number 3), Cockroaches was number 2 so I was interested to see how reading out of sequence would affect my enjoyment.

It didn't and I think on this point I am with the majority (well at least my mum who read The Snowman first then The Bat and wasn't adversely affected).

As with a lot of books that feature foreign names I struggled with the Norwegian and Thai surnames which made following the book at times hard to follow. There were a fair number of characters which didn’t help but this is a reoccurring problem I have so don't take it as a criticism of Nesbo.

I would however say there were too many potential murderers, including at least one that we had never met. The investigation seemed to skip around so quickly from one suspect to the next that (coupled with the many names I was already struggling with) made me slightly bewildered. It made for a disappointing ending as I didn’t really feel like I cared about whether the murderer got his commuppence or not. I also found I didn’t really sympathise with any of the characters (well except maybe Hole). The wife of the victim had, on the face of it, a tragic story but I read on unaffected. I didn’t get the daughter with her random staring at traffic, finding energy in the rain and attachment to Harry so I again didn’t care about her fate. In retrospect perhaps I found the characters weak, the troubled teen, the drunken wife, the henchman, all too stereotypical.

I feel Nesbo did try to create shock factor via paedophilia and politics, however I know nothing about Norwegian politics and, like the characters, this didn’t really affect me as perhaps other books have. I'm also slightly confused as to why a Scandinavian crime writer famous for their Scandinavian crime would base the first two books outside of Scandinavia.

Two questions please if anyone can help me - is Liz in later books and where does Tom Waaler appear in Cockroaches? I seem to remember (and it has been a while) that in The Redbreast Hole has a female sidekick who I sensed at the time the reader was supposed to know more about. I presumed that this was because I had missed a book but now reading Cockroaches I'm not too sure. I also seem to remember Waaler is set up to be Hole's arch enemy (perhaps his Nemesis?!) in future books and read a throw away comment somewhere that this is the book we first meet him. I can't remember this happening, can anyone shed any light as to when this occurs?

Overall I was disappointed in the book. I will however be reading Nemesis (number 4) as I feel number 3 really set the scene for a cracker, watch this space!