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The Son: A novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 13, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,367 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* On the surface, Nesbø’s gripping new stand-alone might seem like another installment of the Harry Hole series but featuring a new cast of characters. A serial killer is at work in Oslo, and a maverick cop with his share of personal demons is on his trail. But beneath that surface, there is a complex psychological thriller churning its way into the reader’s nightmares. Sonny Lofthus is in prison for crimes he didn’t commit but for which he has agreed to take the fall—in exchange for an unending supply of heroin. The drugs are Sonny’s way of dealing with the knowledge that his father, an apparent suicide, was a dirty cop. As the novel begins, however, Sonny has new information about his father’s death and has engineered a daring escape from prison. His revenge-fueled plan is to kill those responsible for the crimes he was convicted of by re-creating the murders with the real killers now the victims. The more we learn about Sonny, the more we root for him to evade capture, either by the police or by the crime lord who wants him dead. Juggling point of view between Sonny, Simon Kefas (the cop chasing him), and the various corrupt officials who risk exposure the longer Sonny is free, Nesbø thwarts our every attempt to draw conclusions about both what happened in the past and who is the least guilty among the principals. There is an element of the classic film noir Breathless at work here but with more characters of varying shades of gray whose fates hinge on numerous moving parts. A terrific thriller but also a tragic, very moving story of intertwined characters swerving desperately to avoid the dead ends in their paths. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With 24 million copies of his books sold, Nesbø is now second only to Stieg Larsson among Scandinavian crime writers. His fame is sure to grow still more as Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are about to begin filming The Snowman. --Bill Ott


“A deftly plotted novel that probes the deepest mysteries: sin, redemption, love, evil, the human condition. . . . One of Nesbø’s best, deepest and richest novels.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Excellent . . . Nesbø takes the reader on a chilling ride with many unexpected twists.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The standard bearer for the phenomenon that is Scandinavian crime fiction. . . . Fast-paced and imaginatively violent, this latest example of Nesbo’s Nordic noir hurtles like an express train towards a last act of almost operatic extravagance that leaves dead bodies and carefully nurtured reputations littering the stage. Great stuff altogether.”
Independent (Ireland)
“[Nesbø is] one of the current leading lights in Scandinavian crime fiction . . . Ridiculously talented . . . with his clear gift for hairpin twists and turns. . . . The thriller is so tightly plotted that it will keep readers steadfastly glued to their seat. . . . What Nesbø has crafted is not a whodunit in the traditional sense, as the writer is interested in the far more fascinating question of what can drive a person to evil?”
Daily Style (Australia)
Scandinavian Reviews
“Nesbø’s new book makes all the hype before publication seem like false modesty, and is quite simply a fantastic piece of crime literature. . . . First and foremost, this is a clever, enthralling and driven story that is impossible to put down.”
Dagens Næringsliv (Norway)
“Yet another powerful demonstration of Nesbø’s talent for creating a story that plays on all nerve strands and with so much intensity that it embodies both the Bible and Batman at once. It is really well done. It is still early in the year, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone should dub The Son as the crime novel of the year.”
Ekstra Bladet (Denmark)
“The pace proves to be on top in the new book, in a positive sense. This remains Norwegian crime literature in a class by itself. A plot that stretches and spreads out like great mathematical formulas, with many unfamiliar characters in the equation, but without being arcane or excessive in his fantastic interpretations. . . . Jo Nesbø prevails once again.”
Dagsavisen (Norway)
The Son is a modern take on the story about Christ, that tackles the corruption in Oslo. . . . Jo Nesbø’s writing is incredible as usual.”
Jyllands-Posten (Denmark)
“Tremendously well written by Nesbø. . . . There is something unstoppably vital about Jo Nesbø as a designer of crime stories in the baroque style. His pen is on fire and although it may be noted that it goes too fast sometimes linguistically, the stories he creates has so many staggering twists and turns that it is almost physically impossible not to get hooked.”
Aftenposten (Norway)
“Crime novels are rarely so skillfully told and at the same time so much more than pure entertainment. But Nesbø is a master.”
Berlingske (Denmark)
“No Norwegian crime writer can create such complex crime plots without losing in detail like Nesbø can. You might say that Nesbø is both high and low in his texts, and that is one of the main reasons why his novels rise above most others in this genre.”
Dagbladet (Norway)
“It is a formidable, diabolically clever and devilishly good book that is well put together, down to the smallest detail.”
Nordjyske Stiftstidene (Denmark)
“The story . . . is propelled with great force and an unerring sense of detail. . . . It is simply thrilling to read.”
NRK (Norway)
“Fast-paced and rip-roaring suspenseful.”
Politiken (Denmark)
“No one at our latitudes knows the game like Nesbø does. No one is even close to his craftsmanship in writing crime novels that hold such international standard.”
Adresseavisen (Norway)”
“A high level of suspense all the way and limitless brutality. The bad guys get what they deserves and Nesbø’s writing is almost more cynical and concrete than usual. There are also a few love stories along the way, that—almost—end happily.”
Lolland-Falsters Folketidende (Denmark)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; Tra edition (May 13, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385351372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385351379
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,367 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Suncoast TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Most people will know Jo Nesbo's books through his very popular Harry Hole series. This time Nesbo has written a standalone thriller "The Son" (Sonnen in Norwegian) which IMHO equals if not surpasses his best Harry Hole thrillers. It is a pretty long and complex read and some of the violent parts may not be to everyone's taste.

Sonny Lofthus idolised his father, Ab, who was a police officer. At an impressionable age Sonny is faced with the apparent suicide of his father after admitting charges of corruption. His mother turns to alcohol and takes an overdose of pills. Left alone Sonny goes off the rails and becomes a drug addict. At the age of eighteen he confesses to murders he didn't commit in return for a promise from gangsters of a constant supply of drugs while he is in prison.

During the 18 years he has been in prison, despite his addiction, Sonny has become a charismatic and calm figure who other prisoners come to for absolution of their sins. One day a prisoner with terminal cancer makes a confession admitting that Sonny's father was murdered. This triggers off a major change in Sonny so that he can take vengeance on all those who had a hand in his father's murder. His main problem is that he is in prison, is a drug addict and has never lived outside as an adult.

While the main storyline is about Sonny it is also closely connected with the life of Chief Inspector Simon Kefas, who was a close friend of Ab Loftus. After Ab's death Simon's potentially brilliant career investigating fraud and corruption came to an end because of his addiction to gambling. Simon is now a reformed man and a dedicated leader of the homicide squad. On the home front his wife is rapidly losing her eyesight and Simon will do anything to save it.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although I own a slew of Nesbo's Harry Hole books, I never did know where to begin. So, when this stand-alone was offered, I decided to give it a go. Therefore, I can't compare this to any book other than related thrillers or mysteries. It held its own, and I ripped through the pages in record time (just a few days), as I was riveted to the well-paced narrative. Nesbo did not squander character for plot; the main players were well-rounded and sympathetic.

Sonny Lofthus, now thirty, has been in prison for twelve years, since his father's death. Ab Lofthus, a police officer, apparently committed suicide, admitting to corruption in his suicide note. Sonny was a wrestling champ at school with a good future ahead, but after Ab's death, both he and his mother descended into despair. After his mother died of an overdose, Sonny became a heroin addict, and eventually agreed to take the fall for several murders and go to prison in return for being supplied heroin while locked up.

In prison, Sonny stays chiefly silent, and is known for having healing hands, almost holy hands that mend the broken soul. During a session where he lays his hands on a fellow inmate, at the start of the book, Sonny learns some startling news about his father--that, in fact, he was killed, and the corruption placed on him was bogus. This changes everything for Sonny, and in a convincing plan, he breaks out of prison with the help of the other, trusted convict.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With the completion (?) of the 10-book Harry Hole series, author Jo Nesbo moves to a standalone tale of corruption, revenge and redemption within Oslo's police department -- and it is wonderful. If you're a Nesbo fan, RUN, do not walk, to get this terrific book.

Years ago, three friends entered the police academy: Pontius becomes police commissioner, Simon battles his personal demons and ends up kind of a loser in Homicide, and Ab commits suicide before he can be exposed as corrupt. Ab's son Sonny, now an orphan, becomes a heroin addict, content to be a professional scapegoat for a (very sinister) crime kingpin, but when an inmate reveals that he knows the truth about Ab's death, Sonny undergoes a remarkable transformation and embarks on a riveting mission of revenge. And Simon, his father's old friend, is assigned to catch him.

Like many readers I became enchanted with Scandinavian thrillers after reading the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and now I've read novels by dozens of talented authors, but Jo Nesbo is my very favorite. The Harry Hole series is amazing, with thrilling plots and a magnificent (if flawed) detective, so I was quite curious to see how a non-Hole Nesbo novel would read, and it knocked my socks off. The story is immediately compelling and the characters are sublime. There are at least 30 of them, but the author manages to keep each one memorable and distinct, and to humanize each of them, establishing empathy even when the character is not sympathetic. The story moves primarily, but not exclusively, between Simon the detective and Sonny the oddly gentle killer. At the same time, Simon is mentoring a new homicide detective, and this gives Nesbo the chance to show off Simon's talent.
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