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?
Jo Nesbø is a bestselling Norwegian author and musician. He was born in Oslo and grew up in Molde. Nesbø graduated from the Norwegian School of Economics with a degree in economics. Nesbø is primarily famous for his crime novels about Detective Harry Hole, but he is also the main vocals and songwriter for the Norwegian rock band Di Derre. In 2007 Nesbø also released his first children's book, Doktor Proktors Prompepulver.
It was clear the book had been read up to page 149 – crumbs between the pages, the occasional squashed insect – but after page 150 the rest of the book was pristine, the spine was uncreased.
We got a reasonable set of prints from the cover and ran them though the database of usual suspects. We got an immediate hit – they belonged to Paul Bryant, who we knew from a lot of smart aleck stuff on Goodreads.
We picked him up at 11.30 am on Tuesday hanging around Waterstones. He didn’t give us any trouble. We took him downtown and put him in the box, read him his rights. He didn’t want a lawyer. That was nice. We don’t like lawyers much.
He wanted to know why he was there so we explained. We said that we don’t like book reviewers who don’t finish books they review. 149 pages out of 645 is like nothing. He said it’s not nothing it’s 23%. We asked him not to get lippy and explained that we could cuff him if he would like us to. We explained that we don’t think reviewers have any right to have an opinion on something they haven’t read.
He said that in this particular case he had no grudge against the book, unlike many he had previously abandoned. (The records show this guy is a serial abandoner.) He said that he would be very happy to watch the Scandinavian Noir miniseries they will surely make of this book. But he said that whereas on screen the clunky crime clichés of modern thrillers are often successfully sidestepped by the delicious playing of the actors – say, Sophie Grabol as Sarah Lund or Sofia Helin as Saga Noren - on the page they just lie there and die there. So you get lines like
Are you telling me that you allowed yourself to be outwitted, Goldsrud? How far did he get?
We said that when you read a Joe Nesbo book you aren’t expecting William Faulkner. He said that all due respect he knew that but even so.
We issued him with an official warning – stop trying to be popular, stick to your fancy arse Don DeLillos and Cormac McCarthys. You know what’s best for you. Also, finish your books. Next time we won’t be wearing kid gloves.
He said that line could have come right out of The Son. That’s when he had the minor accident, a report of which has already been filed.
Sometimes it's hard to express just how good a book is. Finding just the right ( often used), words and phrases to depict how it made you feel, but anyway, here goes. 'The Son' has gripping, unrelenting action, bent coppers, drug dealers, human traffickers, the dregs of the underworld, and then there's Sonny Lofthus (The Son), who is on a mission to rid the world of some very unpleasant characters, to avenge the death of his police officer father. There's a villain called 'The Twin', and also a police mole who nobody knows the identity of, but Sonny is determined to find them all. It was hard to put this book down, and when I did I was constantly thinking about it, there were so many clues to investigate. I decided part way through the book who the mole was, and then changed my mind, and then changed it again. It definitely worked its way into my psyche. I found myself rooting for Sonny and wanted a good outcome, but it was hard to see how that was ever gonna happen. Nesbo did a great job of making a protagonist with an agenda, appear childlike and innocent. Highly recommended.
Stavo leggendo un libro che procedeva con più lentezza del solito, forse, addirittura, con fatica. Allora, ho preso questo mio primo Nesbø, tanto per alternare letture, sapendo che il norvegese se non altro sarebbe stato più scorrevole. Poi, però, è successo che l’ho aperto venerdì pomeriggio e l’ho richiuso domenica notte, 542 pagine dopo. Non sono riuscito a metterlo giù! Non sono riuscito a chiuderlo fino alla fine, il progetto di alternare la lettura è fallito miseramente.
Quello che lo rende inesorabilmente incollato alle mani è la conoscenza delle regole (del genere thriller noir), il rispetto delle stesse, il buon lavoro d’artigianato. Non certo d’artista. Perché neppure nel suo genere brilla di luce propria. Perché i personaggi sono stereotipi mai approfonditi. Perché quando Nesbø si lancia sul sentimento diventa sentimentale. Perché Oslo potrebbe essere Berlino, Londra o Shangai, non ha niente di peculiare, è descritta come la solita grande città moderna. Perché alcune situazioni sono improbabili inverosimili e non credibili, a cominciare dalla fuga dal carcere, proseguendo con il ritorno nel penitenziario – citerei anche la morte del malavitoso per mezzo di un ventilatore e tanta polvere bianca, ma questa se non altro è bella e fantasiosa, immaginifica.
C’è la dose di violenza che punge, raccapricciante senza esagerazione. La storia sa essere a suo modo universale, il protagonista che cerca la verità, la sua necessità di giustizia (attraverso la vendetta), la vicenda familiare, in particolare il rapporto con la figura paterna.
Confessore? Angelo? Vendicatore? Figlio?
Anche il poliziotto principale è familiare, stimolante e rassicurante al contempo. Ci sono donne belle. C’è una città moderna. C’è la famiglia. La malattia. La morte. La corruzione. Sesso accennato, droga in quantità industriale, poco r&r, buoni sentimenti, polizia corrotta e poliziotti onesti, ricchi corrotti e ricchi assassini, tossici poveri e poveri tossici…
Bella la figura dell’angelo protagonista, un giovane wrestler eroinomane – e per una volta il titolo italiano che si discosta dall’originale è perfino più azzeccato, il confessore invece che il figlio. Perché Sonny, il protagonista, ascolta confessioni e commina penitenze, pronuncia frasi di questi tipo: Tu verrai punito. Prima vuoi alleggerirti la coscienza? È biblico al punto giusto, così che la violenza sembra giustificata, assume una dimensione solenne e quasi necessaria.
Comunque, anche l’artigianato premia. Premia lo stesso artigiano che vende a go go. E premia me lettore che mi sono divertito, e mi sono sentito rassicurato: il mondo è un luogo tenebroso e violento, ma ci sono angeli, ci sono vendicatori e giustizieri, il Bene alla fine trionfa (e vissero felici e contenti).
Jo Nesbø in versione confessore
Certo, se Nesbø prestasse più attenzione allo stile, non farebbe un pizzico di danno: la sua scrittura è piattina, senza particolare ricerca, già pronta per una sceneggiatura. Meglio la descrizione del mondo tossico, dell’assistenza ai drogati, che quello della città: come dicevo, Oslo viene fuori come una qualsiasi metropoli, senza peculiarità.
E adesso che cerco da alternare alla lettura lenta e faticosa?
Jake Gyllenhaal dovrebbe interpretare il film e Dennis Villeneuve dirigerlo. Sarebbe la loro terza volta insieme. Solo che il primo è piuttosto agée per essere il figlio confessore, 30enne che sembra un ragazzo, e decisamente troppo giovane per essere il poliziotto prossimo alla pensione. E il secondo sembra piuttosto impegnato visto che è immerso nel sequel di Blade Runner, a cui seguirà quello di Dune, e poi…
Reading Jo Nesbo a reader quickly realizes that Nesbo is always capable of producing a good book, but also has in him the ability to write a great book. Nesbo’s 2000 Harry Hole book The Redbreast is an example of Nesbo’s writing at its best.
His 2014 novel The Son is another example.
First of all, this is NOT a Harry Hole novel. The Son is a stand-alone book that centers around protagonist Sonny Lofthus, a convicted murderer and heroin addict. We find Sonny in prison and the reader quickly learns that he is in jail for crimes he has not committed. He confesses to a murder and in exchange he is supplied a steady stream of needle drugs.
Why he does this and how he has become this damaged bag of human goods is a central part of Nesbo’s charismatic prose. But the most noteworthy aspect of the book is the integral and ubiquitous allegorical quality of the narrative.
Ripe with allegory and metaphor, The Son is a modern day morality play with strong and resonant references to the Bible and with Western civilization Christian faith. Lofthus is described in ways that would make him a Christ-like figure only in negative, and the vengeance he seeks from Oslo’s underworld crime network is shown in stark and penetrating contrast to the clearly emblematic Christian framework.
While Nesbo avoids an outright symbolic and juxtaposing retelling of the New Testament (to his credit) The Son is so rife with Christian symbolism and tangential meaning that the reader is kept alert for all such references and when complementary demonic and pagan references are made, Nesbo has crafted for the reader a rich tapestry of multi-layered meaning and imagery.
A good mystery / thriller on the surface, The Son works on various levels and leaves the reader with much to ponder in this enjoyable and well written story.
Last year I read Nesbo's Macbeth and although very disappointed I was also fairly entertained and garnered a 2.5 star rating from me. I felt that perhaps I might be more interested and impressed in his own original work rather than an adaptation of a classic. I was wrong.
I picked this up as I needed some respite from killer clowns (It), a biography on Alexander the Great and some pop anthropology. I craved a dark exciting diversion and chose this book which has an average rating of 4.07. Nope , nope, nope !
This started as a fairly interesting three star read that plummeted around the halfway mark with predictability, histrionic heroics and individual psychologies that were both simplistic and inconsistent. My eyes kept rolling, my predictions all came true and I was both agitated and bored while reading this. I skimmed the last third as I wanted to complete this pronto.
I will not return to Nesbo. He is not for me and there are so many other authors that write mysteries and thrillers that I want to explore.
This is a very good stand-alone novel from Jo Nesbo, author of the series featuring the brilliant Norwegian homicide detective, Harry Hole. This psychological thriller features two protagonists. The first is a young man named Sonny Loftus. Sonny's father was exposed as a corrupt cop and took his own life. Completely destroyed by the loss of the father he adored and disillusioned by the revelations about the man, Sonny turns to drugs. Now in his middle-thirties, Sonny has spend half his life in prison, and he's now serving time for crimes that he did not commit. As a reward for confessing to crimes perpetrated by others, he is given "easy" time and access to an on-going supply of heroin.
Sonny has a rare gift of empathy and has earned a reputation among his fellow prisoners as a figure who can absolve them of their sins. Whether he actually can or not is immaterial, but the prisoners who confess to him almost always feel a deep sense of relief once they have done so. But then one day Sonny receives information that turns his world upside down. His reaction is to make a very clever break from the prison and set out on a mission known only to himself.
The second major protagonist is Simon Kefas, the policeman who attempts to track Sonny down. Simon was Sonny's father's partner and best friend and, more than anything else, Simon wants to protect Sonny from the consequences of his own actions.
The story's point of view shifts back and forth between the two main characters and the tension mounts from start to finish. Both are flawed and very intriguing characters, and in the end the reader may have a tough time deciding which of them to root for. It's an absorbing story from Nesbo that will appeal to a variety of readers, especially to the fans of his Harry Hole novels.
Good read. I have openly admitted in the past that I unfairly, at times, compare one work of a great author against one of his/hers, others. Had I read The Son cold I’m sure I would’ve rated this book four stars instead of three but reading this one right after the stellar, Kingdom by the same author clouded my opinion. (Also, I absolutely loved Headhunters by Nesbo) The Son is a solid crime novel with a good story. There are multiple points of view that kept me at arms-length and from dropping into the Fictive Dream. What is interesting though, is the structure. The lack of staying in one point of view long enough to drop into the story allows the reader to see the main character from many different opinions/perceptions. Another aspect that might not catch other readers but caused a snag for me was some of the police procedures. Granted other countries have different procedures than the US and I can understand that but, in this book, there were a few that I found difficult to accept. One was the inmate allowed to enter a prison with a gun. Even if the gun was a cigarette lighter. Yikes. I recommend this book to any avid crime reader.
Jo Nesbø is a pure gold phenomenon. An economist, active musician/songwriter/vocalist, ex-footballer (retired due to injury); he confessed in 2013 to be behind the pen-name of Tom Johansen; novelist of a successful children's book series featuring Fart Powders and a wildly popular, mad-cap Doctor Proctor; he's considered the top Norwegian crime fiction author globally, and now with his new anti-hero, there is five-star splendor in The Son...
30 year old Sonny Lofthus is kept in a perpetual catatonic state through a constant supply of drugs. Left in a position to be easily set up for the crimes of others, he is imprisoned at Oslo's most modern state of the art institution, Staten - an impenetrable structure that itself oozes evil from every brick of its foundation. Lofthus's name is even more tainted by the fact that his father committed suicide, a disgraced officer gone astray by his own corrupt misdeeds.
There is a power struggle of good and evil in Nesbø's uberdark novel. I'm not just talking 'good guy- bad guy stuff', or even a seasoned crime hero with a looming shadow like Harry Hole. The difference in Sonny Lofthus's case is that, although 30 years old, he has the mind of a teenager, an untested innocence, has been in prison nearly half his life and is already in the fires of hell. Immediately the reader sympathizes with his character. Immediately, we know that any ill conceived actions he does next will be tolerated, because we want him to prevail.
Counterbalancing this black soul is an aura of mystification - Sonny appears to have the touch of a miracle-worker: he can see into the deepest of a man's soul, he can absolve the worst of sins weighing on the guilty conscience, he can heal the sick, well, maybe spiritually anyway. And he's highly intelligent, too. Maybe he is the almighty?
When Sonny learns from an inmate that his father was set up and was, in reality, murdered, he plans his escape in the clever, high-tech fashion that only Jo Nesbø could pull off, nothing would get in the way of the bloody string of vendettas he has in mind. Nesbø readers expect the mind bending plot twists and palpitating thrills, the highly sophisticated criminal systems and Norwegian underworld network, they're here. New are the half-way hostels: the publicly funded programs that provide sanctuary for drug addicts to get off the streets of Oslo. This is such an interesting concept, one I would love to see compared to the ridiculously over-priced drug rehabs in this country.
There's a lot to entertain the die-hard Nordic noir reader; once finished, you'd want to read it again, straight away. I look forward to much more of Sonny Lofthus. I highly recommend this new Nesbø crime thriller (apparently to become a TV series).
I have read every book in Jo Nesbø's Harry Hole series and enjoyed them all so I decided it was time to try his stand alone books too. It was a good decision. The Son is like a Harry book but with other police instead of Harry. Except of course the main character is an anti hero who you spend most of the book rooting for. If Harry had been there then Sonny would not have stood a chance:) There were so many twists and turns in this story that I almost lost track of what was happening but enjoyed the action which was ongoing and gripping. Sonny is a drug addict, escaped prisoner and multiple murderer but so charming and smart that I kept hoping the police would fail. Of course there is a grand finale where everyone shoots everyone else but you will have to read the book yourself to see what eventually happens to our hero. I am giving this five stars because it was so good I was unable to put it down!
I confess beginning The Son with a healthy degree of skepticism, I was continually trying to second guess the rationale for writing a police thriller sans everyone's favorite detective. Suffice to say I think my question was answered by the end of the novel (you won't be disappointed to pick up this book) While there are some similarities with the classic series, such as a flawed detective hero, Kripos fighting with the local crime squad (I guess its no different from the cliche of FBI taking over the locals investigation) The Son stands out as an unusual tale of revenge violence, redemption and morality. Not wanted to exaggerate this novel too much, although it is very good, Nesbo almost reaches Shakespearean heights in his portrayal of needy characters making tragic choices.
The plot is a slow but satisfying build. It takes a few chapters before the story starts to gather momentum, and most enjoyable part of the book is unlike a typical thriller where the majority of the impetus to keep reading is around solving the mystery, The Son successfully sucks you into the lives of the characters and wanting to see the outcome for them.
So, for fans of Harry Hole, or Nesbo's other books (are there other books really?) The Son should be a stable in your diet. For newbies or even anti-fans, I still recommend The Son as a solid stand-alone book. Nesbo stays away from making this book too 'Nordic Noir' so if you're worried about reading something as heavy as a Larson book don't be (in fact I think this book is set in summer, if that happens in Norway!)
****4.5 Stars**** This is an excellent tale of revenge, superbly written and very enjoyable. I usually avoid mysteries with too many gory murder details; but, this one was a satisfying and dark tale of the struggle between good and evil. The protagonist in the audio version of this story was so soft-spoken and his enemies so reptilian that his unique ways of dispatching each malevolent character seemed totally justified. It’s a stand-alone novel, which I prefer rather than a series. I was engrossed from the beginning to its karmic conclusion.
Norwegian Sonny Lofthus, a thirty-year-old heroin addict convicted of two murders, has been in Staten Prison for twelve years.
Sonny was a promising athlete as as teen but lost his way after his police officer father, Ab Lofthus, committed suicide amid a corruption scandal involving a police mole. Sonny, in despair and needing heroin, has been an 'official scapegoat' for years, taking the blame for crimes committed by other people. Just recently Sonny was allowed out on day release just when a woman was murdered - and he's being coerced to take the blame. All this is engineered by a gang of ruthless criminals in cahoots with corrupt law enforcement officials.
Then one day a fellow criminal in Staten Prison - dying of cancer and seeking absolution - admits to Sonny that his dad did not commit suicide but was murdered and framed. This galvanizes Sonny, who goes cold turkey and engineers a prison break. Sonny then goes on a murderous rampage to get revenge against people who did wrong to his father and himself.
Sonny's crimes come to be investigated by Simon Kefas, an Oslo homicide cop who was close to Ab Lofthus. Simon, now partnered with an ambititous young female homicide detective, is reputed to be an honest cop who detests police corruption.
Simon has problems though; he's a recovering gambling addict with a vision-impaired wife who needs expensive surgery in the U.S. - a situation that makes criminals think Simon might be open to bribes.
There are plenty of interesting characters in the story, including Markus - a nosy little boy (with a powerful set of binoculars) who lives across from Sonny's childhood home;
Marta - a young woman who runs an addict hostel that takes Sonny in;
Arild Franck, the creepy deputy governor of Staten prison;
'The twin' - a criminal mastermind; and many others on both sides of the law.
For me the biggest problem with the book was my skepticism that Sonny - an impaired addict who barely knew what a cell phone was upon his escape from prison - was able to engineer the extremely clever and complex (I'd say genius-level) acts of revenge described in the story. Nevertheless, the well-written, fast-moving book grabs and holds your attention from the first page to the last. I'd highly recommend it to fans of mystery thrillers.
No está Harry Hole, pero tampoco se le echa en falta. De hecho, tiene todos los elementos comunes de las novelas de Hole (corrupción policial, flaquezas y debilidades del protagonista, descripción del lado más oscuro de Noruega, etc). Y el estilo es, inequívocamente, de Nesbo.
Por ponerle una pega, que no es pequeña, la venganza del “redentor” parece excesivamente manipulada para un personaje como Sonny Lofthus, sobre todo si tenemos en cuenta su poco entrenamiento, por los años que ha pasado en la trena. Para conseguir su objetivo, hubiese necesitado una preparación militar, que, obviamente, él no ha tenido. Y, además, para ser un ex presidiario que no ha tenido contacto con la tecnología, digamos que su adaptación a la misma resulta un tanto “inverosímil”.
Pero el personaje del inspector Kefas compensa con creces esta pega, ya que es un protagonista que llena la novela por sí mismo. Su simpatía para con Sonny y la lealtad debida al hijo de su mejor compañero es lo que realmente hace que esta novela no sea solamente llevadera, sino muy recomendable. Todas sus acciones encajan a la perfección, además de estar magníficamente descritas. Jo Nesbo sigue estando en plena forma.
I finally read my first Jo Nesbo book and I mostly enjoyed it.
I found the storyline of The Son gripping and the characters likeable. I always enjoy stories set in prisons and even more if there is a breakout and I root for the runaway. Despite the large number of characters featured in the book, I had no problem remembering them as they were all easily distinguishable. One thing I was slightly disappointed with was some of the reveals at the end that concerned some of the characters I got to like.
Righteous Novel of Revenge With "Noisy Mating Sounds" and "Many Loud Mating Noises"
Mating Dance of American Southern Redneck Male
A righteous novel of revenge that races toward a feverish conclusion, by startling bends, dazzling drops, and some jerks and jolts past a few stun grenades. The story is a bit far-fetched though and ties together too tidily to have the terrific ring of realism that surrounds the great thrillers.
Hilarious, unrealistic translation from Norwegian to English: a criminal turns volume to max on porn channel in hotel room to prevent his conversation from being bugged; leaves TV on when he departs. Management was unhappy when he arrived back next day because it fielded so many complaints about "noisy mating sounds" and "many loud mating noises" coming from the room during the night.
Nothing like unintended comic relief in a suspense-filled book.
Story is pretty much as the blurb tell us. Sonny is in jail from last 12 years for accepting crimes which he has not committed but easy drugs and peaceful place is all that he wants. And these confessions are bringing him those. Things changed when a fellow prisoner tells him that his father was killed and not committed suicide, Sonny decides to come out and avenge his father.
First the good things. This is a stand alone book and a great story told in third person about Drug/Trafficking Lords vs Cops. Characters are really good. Simon Kefa, the good old and super intelligent cop, who happens to be a friend of Sonny's father. His desire to help Sonny met resistance in his own department and also from the mafia. Things gets more complicated when Simon finds himself in need of a huge amount of money for his wife's operation. His assistant Kari is also an equally amazing and well drawn character. The mafia king and his minions are fearsome and believable.
Now the bad things. Plot was unimpressive and it irked me how Sonny easily got hold of the people he wanted to kill. Someone who was using drugs from 14 years on regular basis suddenly quits and then turn into a superman with unimaginable powers and fighting techniques. Breaking prisons, law and evading bullets was like a child's play to him. Oh and his love life is equally surprising. I still find it hard to believe how a woman like Martha could fall in love with him after knowing the truth.
But it was an entertaining book if you're able to ignore above facts. I enjoyed it but it could have been better.
After reading “The Son” I can definitely say that Jo Nesbo is the most hit or miss author I have ever read. “The Snowman” and “The Leopard” were great books that I couldn’t put down while Books like “Redbreast” and “The Redeemer” I struggled to finish. Then I read “The Son” and I have to say it far exceeds Nesbo’s best work. The main character, the detective Simon, resembles Nesbo favorite, Harry Hole , in his abilities to work a crime scene and to use clues to solve a murder. However, this book has a much better plot and supporting characters that will keep you reading and guessing on who the baddie is until the very end. One of the better thrillers I have read in a long time.
This was my first experience with a Jo Nesbø novel and it definitely won't be the last!
I won't lie, this book has been on my TBR for years and I have no idea why I neglected to pick it up. The synopsis pulled me in back when I first came across this novel and I knew it would be something that I would most likely love, but for whatever reason, I just never felt like picking it up until recently.
I don't think I have ever read a book that took place in Norway before and with Oslo being one of my top dream travel destinations, it was a great experience to be transported into the country of Norway through this novel.
Sonny felt a bit like Dexter to me, where he went on this vigilante crusade and did some terrible things...but you still wanted to root for him? If that makes any sense at all... He was likeable in the sense that he was this kind soul that was dealt a shitty hand in life and you just wanted everything to be okay for him.
I never thought I would have to talk about insta-love in a crime/mystery/thriller novel, but yeah...there was insta-love in this novel and it just didn't work for me. I felt no emotion when it came to a particular romance in this novel and I kind of wish their relationship remained platonic.
In terms of the story, it was exciting and thrilling in places, but also slow and hard to follow in others. I liked the idea of Sonny as a vigilante and getting revenge on those that betrayed him and his father...but the talk of a mole within the police force and all of the corruption became a little confusing. However, there were a few twists and surprises that I didn't see coming.
The epilogue at the end of this novel was one of the things that bothered me the most about it. It felt un-needed, like the story could have ended with the pervious chapter. In all honesty, the epilogue just left me feeling a little confused.
All in all, this was a great first dive into the world of Jo Nesbø for me and I can't wait to read more of his novels!
"The Son" is a standalone thriller written by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo and is a compelling, gripping and a highly enjoyable one too. The story flowed so well, it could have been a movie playing out in front of me, the characters were so vivid in my imagination that I saw each one clearly. I really felt that the author truly wanted the reader to feel completely engaged with the plot so good was the writing and execution of the story. This is a quite a chunky book for your money too but because it's so absorbing I ended up flying through it. Once I'd finished reading it, I was still thinking about the fantastically planned ending, it had a massive plot reveal that I did not see coming at all! This is isn't the first book I have read by this very successful author and it certainly won't be the last. I highly recommend "The Son" to thriller readers young and old and would love one day to see this actually turned into a blockbuster movie!
First read May 8th-14th, 2014 Re-read: April 2016 *upgraded my rating from four to five stars, loved even it more the second time*
Next stop on the brief re-read kick of April :)
This was my first book I ever won off goodreads... you should have seen my face haha and forwarding the email to all my friends, I remember counting the days till the book arrived in the mailbox.
Still the same feelings about this that I had before, just a gorgeous and well crafted story. It was also kind of new to me in some ways since it had been awhile since I read it last. Things started coming back slowly and I loved seeing all the clues spread out before, how things evolved.
Would still highly recommend *waves* I'll have to pick up more of Mister Nesbø's work soon, it's been awhile ;-). ~~~~
I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads in an exchange for an honest review. --- Not very good at reviews so bear with me :)
I had heard of Jo Nesbo and have a couple of his books on my wishlist but never had gotten around to reading until 'the son'... I was intrigued by the premise and decided to take a chance on it :).
Really enjoyed reading this novel, the atmosphere Mr Nesbo created slowly drew me in... I was rooting for Sonny the whole way through, hoping he wouldn't get caught but at the same time, wondering how else it could turn out for him.
Simon Kefas is a good cop, flawed man... trying to do what's right, would do anything for his wife Else... trying to get to Sonny before the Twin does.. I was biting my lip, hoping Simon got to Sonny first.
The Twin was a scary dude, quiet menace but very deadly... well written bad guy, I was surprised by what he said about the mole near the end... bastard got what he deserved.
The twist at the end surprised me a bit, the final revelations and how much Sonny knew... I don't what I would have done if I were him. For awhile I had suspicions about someone else entirely, not who it turned out to be.
One final scene near the end made me smile, while another had me thinking for a bit.
overall, This was a wonderful, miss these characters already :) Highly recommend. Some cases words can't describe how much you love a book, this is another one for me. Will definitely be reading more by Mr Nesbo.
This is the second book I've read by Jo Nesbo and I frankly couldn't get into the first. I was "prevailed upon" by a Nesbo fan to try a different book, maybe not of the series Nesbo is well known for.
I've got to say that this is an excellent book. Time and time again the plot seems to be heading one way only to shift and surprise me. The characters while not all detailed are well done and throughout that book we will get to know Sonny better and better.
I even got to like him. Which can seem a bit...weird.
The depths of human nature come into view here and I suspect that on occasion you will (if you get involved in the book as I did) find your heart is involved to....again a bit odd for me.
Gripping. That is the word that I would use to describe this offering by Jo Nesbø. It was a difficult book to put down—the urge to read “just one more chapter” was strong.
I think it is safe to say that if you enjoy Nesbø’s writing and/or other Nordic noir fiction, you will enjoy The Son. There is unrelenting action, plenty of interesting clues to keep your brain busy, a little romance—just to confuse you a bit, and lots & lots of bad guys, plus several characters who inhabit the gray zone of being good bad guys (or maybe bad good guys).
There is much more “witnessed” violence in this novel that I am used to in Nordic crime fiction, but it certainly is no worse than some American authors. I know that prisons are not peaceful places and that all countries have crime, but somehow I had never pictured Norway as a hotbed of this kind of violence & crime!
The Son is not going to be “great literature,” but it is a great reading experience. Perfect for a cold winter afternoon.
I am now a Jo Nesbo fan. His fast-paced stand-alone thriller has a terrific father-son revenge plot. The main characters are quite likable even when not the good guys. 30 year old, former addict Sonny Loftus, has a wonderfully calm voice when listening to the audiobook. I really enjoyed the interaction between Sonny, who is out to seek revenge for his father's death, and Simon Kefas, the veteran homicide detective assigned to the case.
Prior to The Son I have only read the first of the Harry Hole's series. I'm looking forward to continuing on.
The Son, the latest stand-alone by Jo Nesbo is about a passionate, festering and pointless instinct. Or to put it differently: it's about revenge. And who better to deliver revenge than our favorite deviant writer, Jo Nesbo who says of the emotion"By avenging a misdeed we don’t regain what we have lost, but we ensure that misdeeds have consequences that we hope can be a deterrent in the abstract future: Your adversary knows that attacking your offspring has a cost, even if the attack is successful. Or especially if it is successful.".
Speaking about himself, Nesbo's willing to admit that in writing a revenge novel he's satisfying certain deviant impulses within himself, preferring to encapsulate it in a novel over that of acting such impulses out in reality. In this sense, writing for him is a sort of catharsis that he welcomes. If you're a fan of Nesbo and are interested in his analysis of revenge, check out his penned opinion piece Revenge, My Lovely in the New York Times. A very interesting read that formulates his thought process during the writing of The Son.
Goodreads reviews for this stand-alone novel are by and large positive, ranging in the 4 and 5 star ratings. It is a gripping story, full of what we have come to expect from Jo Nesbo. I won't go into a rehashing of the plot (you can read that in the book's description) so suffice it to say that if you like Nesbo it's unlikely you'll be disappointed. But, as with anything, there are exceptions to positive reviews and none more visceral than Nesbo's counter part in Scotland, the fabulous Val MdDermid. In reviewing Nesbo's book, McDermid - who does nothing to hide her disdain for Nesbo (and can I suggest her possible jealousy of Nesbo's fame) - writes:
"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."
The article is beset by pointed criticism, here are a few snippets:
"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."
"Too many of them are also stock characters who are almost cartoonish in their qualities"
"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."
Needless to say, such statements might be irksome to Nesbo fans. Nesbo's sales far exceed McDermid's, the two writers clearly are at odds, and to further deepen the animosity between the two, Norway's status is acknowledged by the Scottish referendum and for McDermid, that's just too much. In her conclusion to her review of The Son, she states:
"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."
Though it might raise an eyebrow or two to hear a crime writer diss violence in the works of another crime writer (isn't that the basis for crime writers?), it can be said that McDermid's not entirely wrong.
For example, McDermid states: "[The characters'] 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." And inadvertenty I nod my head, somewhat in agreement. The son is a prison inmate with mystical, almost religious characteristics, peaceful and liked by most in the prison system's: both by inmates and guards. Sonny trades drugs freely available in prison in exchange for taking the blame for crimes he did not commit. The psychological motivator for his actions are the guilt he feels because his father was corrupt, committed crimes for which he died.
Upon hearing that in fact, his father was not guilty, and with the psychological motivator to sit out his life in prison now gone, Sonny does a 180 and turns to exacting revenge upon those who caused his father's death. This sudden switch into a devious, murdering and very competent eluder of the law borders on the unbelievable. I agree that the psychological motivations for this sudden turn were not properly detailed out by Nesbo. It seems a bit far fetched. And most certainly, I should not have to turn to an outside article (Revenge, My Lovely) to understand that motivation. Additionally, the narrator is not as mesmerizing as our Harry Hole...he simply does not compare. Also, there's a certain conflict inherent in having an unreliable character narrate the events, especially where it concerns the events in this particular novel.
In conclusion, I've rated this 4 stars (3.5 actually) instead of 5 for the above reasons.
------------------------------------------------------------ About the author
"Nesbo's reputation was established by a series of novels set in his home town of Oslo that featured his troubled but brilliant police detective, Harry Hole. A typical Hole investigation combines stomach-churning violence, black humour and state-of-the-nation addresses. Nesbo has dismembered drag queens, unleashed great white sharks, and hidden characters in faeces-filled outside toilets, all the while musing on Norway's record in the Second World War, its economy and welfare state."
That statement by James Kid sums it up pretty well. Nesbo's allure has grown to the point that some say he's taken over the mantle from Larsson (author of the Millenium trilogy) and deservedly so.
In Jo Nesbo's words: "I come from a family of readers and story tellers." With a librarian mother and a father who sat before the fire and told the kids stories they wanted to hear (each repetition bringing something new to the tale) Jo's foundation was carved in stone. Again, in his own life story we sense the determinism filtering into his life: he wanted to be a soccer star but an injury put a quick stop to this; with a dreadful feeling of fate guiding his life he entered the military in the hopes something would happen (what happened was "Self-Discipline"); thinking he might want to be an economist he entered the world of finance which he abandoned as well; someone told him he could play guitar (he only knew 3 chords) and he formed several bands, Di Derre being the most successful; and finally he wrote (on an airplane to begin with) his fabulous Harry Hole series and he never stopped.
As to plot. On the one hand, we have Nesbo's almost Shakespearean tendency to cast characters as marionette puppets on the strings of fate (the very opposite of plot), while on the other hand we are riveted by the very complex actions and reactions made by Nesbo's heroes. Nesbo is a master at not adding anything superfluous to his novels. Perhaps it is an unholy marriage between the two that transfixes us. His plots are intricate, very complex, the seemingly irrelevant details exposed throughout the novels become larger than life as the story closes, and they can weave through time, forward and backward, as the story unfolds. It isn't always the hero (in most cases, Harry Hole) making events happen, but rather the reverse, it is the events that move Harry Hole. Again, it is a matter of preference but in Nesbo's case it is done with utter expertise as a writer.
The exposition/setting is often Scandinavia: the weather is somber, the descriptions grey-like, the people absorbed with alcohol and withdrawn, if not bundled and sequestered. And yet, the dialogue and scenes are full of references to other milieus', continents, languages, and cleverly hidden philosophical references that speak to a widely cultured audience (as opposed to American writers of this genre who rarely venture beyond the borders of their land, if not their own State). And as with plot, there are no superfluous details. Everything in the novels matters and Nesbo does not forget even the tiniest detail to which he's made a seemingly furtive reference earlier on in the story. This is one of the biggest reasons why I love Jo Nesbo.
I mean, if it were a novel set in Italy, Russia, Latin America or even USA, no one would have been surprised. But Norway?! REALLY?!
They are the worst . Believe me. Or at least I blindly ate up the whole story, and I am NOT GOING to question ANYTHING here. I sat on the edge of my seat and went almost crazy because the tension in many situations was UNBEARABLE. I got more grey hair, that's for sure.
But what a great story, what an excellent idea.
Ingeniously implemented, brilliantly written. With one of the most unique and endearing lone justice warrior who seeks revenge against evil.
With THIS terrific suspense novel Jo Nesbø got my WHOLE attention. Oh yes, he did.
Whenever I read a Jo Nesbo book, it has some great, thrilling parts and some interesting plot twists. But, it also has a lot of slower parts and places where I am confused about what exactly is going on. The Son was not an exception.
Each little anecdote about "The Son" and the details of was great. But, the overall plot about the was kind of convoluted, confusing, and sometimes boring.
I wouldn't say it's a bad book by any means, just a bit difficult to follow or stay into at times.
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.
Thus begins a cat-and-mouse game between Sonny and the police force, particularly Simon Kefas, a fine detective who once hit rock bottom with a gambling addiction, but pulled himself together with the love of a good woman (who is losing her eyesight and needs an expensive operation), and is now a solid member of the Homicide Squad, and a keen, Colombo-ish detective.
The thing that sets Sonny apart from other rabid drug addicts is that he is a well-mannered gentleman, like his father, and says “Please,” “Thank-you,” and other niceties in a soft-spoken voice. Although he is socially awkward, his kindness and integrity attract people who want to help him, including Martha, the manager of a group home for active drug addicts. Martha senses that he isn’t using anymore, but something about Sonny penetrates her jaded veneer, and he is able to hide in plain sight, between the facility and his parent’s now-empty house. Sonny has a plan, and people to see, and bad guys to confront. Along the way, Sonny grows up in unexpected ways.
The thrumming pace is largely due to the alternating chapters that go back and forth between Sonny and Simon, and a few other players in-between. Although the arc has a familiar formula, Nesbo maintains a fresh, complex plot by gradually revealing the back stories of Sonny, his father, and Simon. Simon’s new partner, an ambitious and educated officer named Kari, is a sturdy addition to the story, and serves as Simon’s sounding board and student.
I waited a few days before writing my review, as I had to think about the twist at the end. Was it organic, convincing, or was it a second-rate Shyamalan gimmick? I had to ponder whether it was trying to outsmart the audience, or whether the story affects the characters in authentic ways--how it changes them, what it teaches them, and what they gain or lose in the process. After thinking this through, I concluded that Nesbo did it right. He embraced the book’s predominant theme of fathers and sons, and the strength of love to refute nihilism.
Nesbo demonstrated an arch wit and a tenderness for his characters, as well as a tie-in to the father/son theme, with the revelation of hiding in plain sight. Moreover, his blending in of the brilliant, beautiful Leonard Cohen song, "Suzanne," was powerfully moving. I am now a Nesbo fan, and look forward to dusting off his books on my shelf. 4.5 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o6zM...
Jo Nesbo, author of the incredibly successful Harry Hole series, has written a fast paced and exciting stand alone thriller in “The Son.” Sonny Lofthus is a model prisoner at an Oslo jail. In prison for twelve years since the age of eighteen (for crimes he did not commit, but confesses to in return for a constant supply of drugs) , he is a mysterious and charismatic figure. Seen as a healer and a confessor, the other prisoners go to him for absolution of their sins. As a child, Sonny idolised his father, Ab Lofthus, a police officer who he believed committed suicide after admitting to charges of corruption. However, one of the prisoners then makes a confession that changes Sonny’s future forever, when he admits that his father was murdered. Now Sonny, a man who has never lived on the outside since he was a child, an addict and a scapegoat, is out for vengeance.
This is not a short read and it is also a book that you need to concentrate on, with plot twists and turns and a whole host of characters. The main storyline concerns Sonny and his desire for justice and the man who was his father’s best friend – Simon Kefas. Kefas was a dedicated police officer, whose career ground to a halt after his investigation into fraud and corruption saw him disgraced as a gambler. Now a changed man, his only wish is to save the eyesight of his wife, and somehow make amends to her. Along with his new young partner, he is called to investigate the death of the prison chaplain, which then leads him headlong into the search for his friend’s son.
If you want a real roller coaster of a ride, this thriller will give it to you. It is extremely violent, but then that is to be expected from Mr Nesbo. This is real, nitty gritty noir. There are gangsters, an awful lot of murders, brutality, drugs, corruption and characters that you will really care about. Sonny is the main character in the novel and he is an odd mix of innocence and single mindedness. Along the way he will inspire all sorts of emotions, including love and gratitude; yet his killing spree drives the book forward. At the end of this novel you cannot fail to be impressed by Jo Nesbo’s ability to write thrillers like nobody else – these are not pulp trash, despite the amount of violence, but peopled with excellent characters and a really exciting plot. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.