Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Son by Jo Nesbo

This just-released title by the creator of Harry Hole is an accomplished work, with an interesting storyline and a great twist at the end. The son of the title is Sonny Lofthus, a convicted and jailed murderer and drug addict who also happens to be the son of a deceased policeman. Sonny is special among the prison population. He attracts other inmates to him, seeking redemption; they believe he can bless them and relieve them of their guilt. Sonny plays this role, almost by default, his silence and stillness generating the response in others. We learn fairly quickly that Sonny is still using drugs, not least because he is being looked after by other prisoners but also because he is a scapegoat for the assistant prison administrator and others. They fabricate evidence that suggests Sonny, on day release, killed again thereby ensuring for him a supply of drugs and earning them a smokescreen for their actions.

As the story progresses we come to understand that Sonny is pivotal in many peoples' lives, people in positions of power and authority wanting to remain untouchable. When he escapes from prison, Sonny begins a quest to avenge his dead father, a man who supposedly took his own life because he was corrupt. This has never sat well with Sonny and he sets out to kill those he believes were in fact responsible for Ab Lofthus' death.

Another central character in the story is Simon Kefas, a policeman and one-time colleague of Sonny's father. He is regarded as somewhat of a maverick and a difficult man to work with; his wife is in the midst of a health scare that is robbing her of her sight and he is assigned a new detective whom he rightly picks as a woman on a fast-track through the police force to greater things. We learn early on that Simon was very close to Sonny’s father and, as the story unfolds, we also learn that there was a third policeman with whom both men were close and who is now in the higher ranks of the force.

Nesbo creates two equally captivating characters in Sonny and Simon. He also introduces a third character, Helen, who spends her life working with addicts and whom we come to have great sympathy for as her life intersects with the two men. As always with Nesbo, this is a book that has moments of great violence but it is not as extreme or shocking as in some of his earlier works. Nonetheless, he is an author for the seasoned crime fiction reader. The twist at the end is unexpected but, at the same ttime, utterly believable.

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