Narrator: John Lee
Series: Harry Hole #2
Published by Random House Audio on February 11, 2014
Length: 9 hrs 47 mins
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When the Norwegian ambassador to Thailand is found dead in a Bangkok brothel, Inspector Harry Hole is dispatched from Oslo to help hush up the case.
But once he arrives Harry discovers that this case is about much more than one random murder. There is something else, something more pervasive, scrabbling around behind the scenes. Or, put another way, for every cockroach you see in your hotel room, there are hundreds behind the walls. Surrounded by round-the-clock traffic noise, Harry wanders the streets of Bangkok lined with go-go bars, temples, opium dens, and tourist traps, trying to piece together the story of the ambassador's death even though no one asked him to, and no one wants him to--not even Harry himself.
Fictional detectives fall into many categories; the competent police force detective, male or female; the female amateur of so many light cozies, who may or may not have a bit of magic about her; the former professional who still “helps” with the occasional case; and the competent private investigator are just a few. Harry Hole is the anti-hero, a type of detective I’m drawn to. He’s competent, but that’s almost his downfall. He’s so tenacious, like a pit bull with a bone, that even when he’s sent on this sensitive case that everyone want to just go away, he digs and digs through all the muck and muddle to get to the truth. He’s an alcoholic and develops a taste for opium, he is haunted by memories and by the unsolved rape of his sister who has Downs’ syndrome. He’s in a bad spot, so the folks in charge send him off to Thailand, figuring the drunk cop has no hope of finding anything out. They are of course wrong. Harry is at his best alone, a stranger, out of his elements. He doesn’t mind offending people, he has a disdain for authority and is sure that justice is more important than law. He’s not a good guy – he’s willing to bend the rules, to threaten, to hurt people. He does what he needs to find the truth, whether it kills him, or, more likely since he is the series character, someone else.
The mystery is good – complicated. There’s a lot going on in Bangkok and Harry has to figure what matters to this case and what doesn’t, but of course it all matters in one way or another. There’s nothing wasted in this book, even if parts are a bit unsavory. And the story keeps rolling, with new revelations, misplaced suspicions. I didn’t guess who the killer was, but I should have. The characters are well-drawn and their motives make sense. I like how we see Harry relates to others, especially the women.
I listened to the audio and the narrator was good, even though I though I heard somewhere that Harry’s last name is not actually pronounced the way it seems to us Americans, and the narrator pronounced it like I would. Other than that, I thought he had a great tone for the story, a bit gruff, which fits the tone of the story. It’s not a light mystery, it’s dark and violent and even the end is not uplifting. But that’s a good thing – at least in this instance.