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The Son: A novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 13, 2014
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*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.”
“[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)
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Crime novels are rarely so skillfully told and at the same time so much more than pure entertainment. But Nesbø is a master.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Fast-paced and rip-roaring suspenseful.”
“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.”
“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)
Top customer reviews
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. Along with a new female partner Simon investigates the death of a prison chaplain which drags him into looking at a range of crimes that eventually impact on Sonny's search for vengeance.
This is not a short read or sometimes a very comfortable read. At times it is extremely violent, gritty and noir. While there are corrupt gangsters and officials, drugs and multiple murders there are also characters that you can really care about. Sonny is an enigmatic character, at times innocent, loving, kind and compassionate and at other times violent and dangerous.
Nesbo has written a thriller with lots of twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat (actually I went back and revisited parts of the book to be able to really appreciate the writer's skills). He is able to turn on all kinds of emotions - but it is the killing spree that is the engine that really revs the story along. Despite that there is one aspect of the dramatic ending gives some hope for the future.
This book demonstrates Jo Nesbo's talents at writing top class thrillers. This will undoubtedly be a top candidate for one of the best thrillers I have read in 2014.
My thanks to The Reading Room and the publisher for an Advanced Reading Copy of this book for an honest review.
Nesbo is well known for his series featuring Harry Hole, however, Harry is on vacation, and this is a story that may develop its own heroine. The latest is 'The Son' which tells the story of Sonny, a 30-year-old heroin addict who has been in prison in a new state-of-the-art facility in Oslo, for over 12 years. What we find is that Sonny has developed into a Buddha like character, soft spoken, when he does speak. Sitting in his cell most of the day bestowing whatever those who come to see him, need. He is the son of a police officer who committed suicide for breaking the law. Sonny and his mother idolized his father, and when his mother dies, Sonny drifts to heroin and is convinced to confess to murder in exchange for all the heroin he needs. One day Sonny learns all is not as he was told, and he breaks out of jail and starts exacting his own justice.
At about the same time, we meet Inspector Simon Kefas, one of the most intelligent and wise of the police. Known for his ethics in his work, he is admired and feared. Simon once was a gambling addict, but the love of his good wife set him on the path to the good life. Now, his wife is ill, and Simon must figure out how to best help her. On this day, when Simon is investigating a new death, a young policewoman, Kari Adel, is introduced. He is to be her mentor. Together, they form a team that seems unbeatable, but all is not as it seems. Finding and stopping Sonny's murderous rampage is their job. Good Luck.
This is a novel with much to say about it. The good guys, the bad guys, love, hate, pathos and revenge. So much more, but that is left for you to discover.
Recommended. prisrob 05-17-14
The son's nemesis, one learns, has plagued his family, friends and humanity for decades. What the author tells us about this character is not just the evil he has done, but what he is. And what he is comes in the form of a person who knows a great deal about those around him. He has an instinct for the weaknesses of others and how most to hurt them.
He is known as a Twin whose brother "drowned" long ago. One learns in the end that this is a myth that originated when the Twin saw his own reflection in a bucket of water. The reader is left to ponder the symbolism of the reflection and the nature of evil itself.
This was a remarkably satisfying and inspiring book to read. Jo Nesbo's knowledge and memory for interesting details about virtually everything is staggering.