Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Book Review: The Son by Jo Nesbo
Author: Jo Nesbo
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Content Alert: Lots of violence, some sex, lots of swearing
Yesterday, I wrote a little bit about my feelings about PD James, who was probably the greatest mystery writer of her time. While I crush on Adam Dalgleish in a way that I don't on Harry Hole (the detective at the centre of most Jo Nesbo novels), I really do think that Nesbo is probably the most talented writer in the mystery/thriller genre writing today. His novels are hard, and violent, and gritty, but they're also insightful and fast-paced, with wonderfully rounded characters. He also manages not to throw out a bunch of red herrings, instead tying in all of the loose ends of a story in a satisfying way.
For the last dozen years, Sonny Lofthus has been able to maintain his heroin habit in prison by confessing to a series of crimes he didn't commit. But when he discovers that the people who have kept him doped up may also have been responsible for his father's death, he manages to kick then habit, then break out of prison to avenge the crimes. This stand-alone novel gives us interesting insights into Lofthus's psyche, as well as in the motives of several other characters, including the police detective who was his father's partner, and the woman who may be falling for Sonny. It's interesting that although Sonny is a criminal, a drug addict, and murderer many times over, readers can't help but root for him. The end of the novel had a satisfying surprise and an even more satisfying final scene. Sometimes I question my decision to read widely, even the kinds of books that are very dark and violent like The Son, but I often find these books provide the most nuanced, most rewarding look at life.