The Son, by Jo Nesbø

Eight stars

Nesbø treats his fans to another captivating piece of fiction, again tackling the seedy underbelly of Oslo and the clash between the police and criminal element. At the heart of it all is Sonny Lofthus, an apparently complacent young man whose spent almost half his life behind bars. With a serious heroin habit, Lofthus is sated as long as he gets his fix, so much so that he has agreed to confess to crimes he did not commit. Living in the shadow of his father, a corrupt cop who was a mole for a crime lord, Lofthus sees no glory on the horizon of his life. Many around him, from prison officials to cops, and even the prison chaplain are happy to feed him his drugs and pile more dreariness onto his plate. However, when Lofthus learns a deep secret about his father, he escapes from prison and begins a killing rampage directed at all those who sought to hold him under their thumbs. While the bodies pile up, DCI Simon Kefas, who has a myriad of personal issues with which he is wrestling, is tasked with finding Lofthus and bringing him back to jail. However, The Twin, the aforementioned crime lord who has been the puppet master to Lofthus’ demise, also seeks this young killer, wishing to scrub him out before he can reveal too much and remove the taint of his father’s history. As Kefas gets closer, the reader learns more about a hidden connection between two key players, as well as shared sorrows brewing for over a decade. A riveting piece of work that will lure new readers to become instant Nesbø fans as well as supporting those who have long loved anything Harry Hole. 

There is something about Nesbø’s writing that grabs the reader in the opening chapters and will not let go until the bitter end. Be it Harry Hole and his dark backstory or the lives of Kefas and Lofthus in this one-off novel. Nesbø pulls Oslo and the Norwegian way of life away from the frivolities of social democracy and happy living as he paints the dark and drug-riddled side that is left off the news reels sent to North America. Nesbø tells it like it is and is happy to let the reader wade through it all to find something upon which they can grasp. However, he spins a wonderful crime story along the way and the reader is left wanting more and forgetting how dreary things have been on the literary journey. What a gift this man has…and the novel was not written in English to begin with. How is it that Scandinavians are so advanced in their literary communication that the translation of their word supersedes much of what is churned out by those who commence the process in English? Stellar seems too light a word to use, but my awe has intoxicated me at the moment.

Kudos Mr. Nesbø another fabulous piece. I cannot get enough of your writing and scramble for more at every possible occasion.