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Summary Ebooks The Son by Jo Nesbo:
The author of the internationally best-selling Harry Hole series now gives us an electrifying stand-alone novel set amid Oslo’s hierarchy of corruption, from which one very unusual young man is about to propel himself into a mission of brutal revenge.
Sonny Lofthus, in his early thirties, has been in prison for the last dozen years: serving time for crimes he didn’t commit. In exchange, he gets an uninterrupted supply of heroin—and the unexpected stream of fellow prisoners seeking out his uncanny abilities to soothe and absolve. His addiction started when his father committed suicide rather than be exposed as a corrupt cop, and now Sonny is the center of a vortex of corruption: prison staff, police, lawyers, a desperate priest—all of them focused on keeping him stoned and jailed, and all of them under the thumb of Oslo’s crime overlord, the Twin. When Sonny learns some long-hidden truths about his father he makes a brilliant escape, and begins hunting down the people responsible for the hideous crimes he’s paid for. But he’s also being hunted, by the Twin, the cops, and the only person who knows the ultimate truth that Sonny is seeking. The question is, what will he do when they’ve cornered him.
Review The Son – Jo Nesbo by User:
To read crime fiction contentedly requires a hefty suspension of disbelief, and some books require a more substantial letting go of credence than others. Unfortunately Jo Nesbø’s latest novel, translated by Charlotte Barslund, falls into that category. It displays both narrative flair and compelling forward motion – which explains why Hollywood is already developing it for the big screen – but I struggled to accept either the set-up or the characters who carry it to its all-too-predictable conclusion.
Sonny Lofthus is a model prisoner in a model prison – except that he’s a well-supplied heroin addict at the beck and call of a corrupt system that uses him as a consenting scapegoat for the homicidal impulses of the rich. His fellow inmates regard him as a kind of saint, believing he has healing hands and the grace to offer meaningful absolution for their sins. Already, I was battling my scepticism.
Simon Kefas is a veteran cop in the Oslo homicide bureau, a byword among his colleagues for dogged integrity. He started his career as one of a trio of inseparable friends. One is now the police commissioner; the third was Sonny Lofthus’s father, who killed himself when he was about to be exposed as a mole supplying a criminal mastermind with inside information. His death sent his son off the rails.
The creaking mechanics of this revenge tragedy rooted in corruption are set in motion when a dying prisoner tells Sonny that this version of events was a lie created to protect the real mole, that his father was indeed the honourable cop Sonny worshipped as a boy, and that the mole is still out there. Something is definitely rotten in the state of Norway. And Sonny is going to put things right.
The story unfolds via a string of improbable twists that failed to shock or surprise, mostly because I struggled to engage with any of the characters. Their behaviour seems to come from the convoluted needs of the plot rather than from any understanding of what motivates people, and often seems unlikely to the point of perversity.
Too many of them are also stock characters who are almost cartoonish in their qualities – the criminal mastermind with a preternatural knowledge of every element of street life throughout Oslo and beyond; the wise, hard-working office cleaner who offers life insights to the detective; the incompetent agent from the FBI-style agency outsmarted by the local cops; the detective with the addiction problem. Their backstories feel bolted on or, in the cases of the female characters, vestigial at best.
All of this is delivered in laboured detail, except where there are questions about the mechanics of plot, when things are glossed over and presented as a fait accompli. The Son is larded with violence, though not as excessively as some of Nesbø’s other work. In that single respect, he may have come to understand that less is more.
Some books are long with good reason. Others are simply overwritten. I can’t help feeling that somewhere inside this 490-page slab is a slick 250-page thriller fighting to get out. Strip away the platitudes and the interior monologues, spare us the sentimentality and the self-justification, and this could have been a dark and muscular slice of noir that chills to the bone. Instead, it’s overblown and preachy with the kind of faux-nobility with which Hollywood loves to invest its villains.
Campaigners for a Yes vote in the forthcoming Scottish referendum delight in telling us we could be just like Norway. On the evidence of The Son, I’d have to say I sincerely hope not.