I've been a fan of Norwegian author Jo Nesbo's Detective Harry Hole series from the first North American release. But, sometimes, the order of publication in North America does not match the original release/writing date.
Last year saw the N.A. release of the first book The Bat. It was great to read the first book and discover the 'origins' of Harry. (my review) And the second Harry Hole book, Cockroaches, is newly released.
The Norwegian ambassador in Thailand has been found dead in a known brothel. It's definitely murder, but that won't play well in the papers. Just back from his surprising success in helping the Aussies solve a case, Harry finds himself volunteered to head to Thailand to help the local force close the case.
Fans of Nesbo know what a conflicted soul Harry is. It's revealing to read the first books in this series and see the origins of the character as Nesbo fleshes him out. As well, there are glimpses into Harry's life that help to explain his addictive and self destructive tendencies.
But, Harry's sense of justice and unerring desire to ferret out the truth seems to override everything else - often to his own detriment. What the higher ups want is this embarrassing event quietly put to bed. That's not what Harry wants.
Nesbo paints a disturbing portrait of Thailand with his settings and characters. Nesbo inserts social commentary into his books that is always thought provoking. In Cockroaches, it's hard to find a player who isn't corrupt or has nothing to hide.
Nesbo's writing keeps the reader feeling unsettled and unsure of what will happen next. I hate predictable plots and Nesbo kept me guessing. (He usually does)
I've read some negative reviews of these earlier books. I think it's important to remember that the character is still evolving in these first books. Speaking for myself, (and having enjoyed all of the later Hole books), I've really enjoyed these early glimpses into a crime series I really enjoy. Definitely recommended.