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on 10 April 2014
Cracker-jack fast paced thriller from the master of Norwegian crime.
Sonny Lofthus, son of a disgraced policeman who committed suicide, has happily sat in prison for others crimes in return for the endless supply of heroin that dampens the pain of his existence. Until he learns that the truth surrounding his father's death may all have been a lie. Breaking out Sonny is soon creating a trail of havoc and terrible destruction in his quest for answers and revenge.
Simon Kefas, the long serving police officer and old friend of his father, hot on his trail seems to be the only one with a chance of stopping Sonny and bringing him in alive but with Nesbo things are never that simple. It's only April and this could already be my book of the year. A great read.
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on 10 April 2014
When Sonny was a teenager, his father took his own life. His suicide note revealed that he was a mole in the Oslo police force, passing information to the mysterious and shadowy figure of the Twin, a dangerous criminal with a network of resources at his disposal. This shattering revelation set his family on a path of destruction and ruin.

Now a heroin addict, Sonny has been in prison for 12 years. Since his incarceration, he's gained an almost mythical status amongst his fellow inmates as a receiver of confessions and a cleanser of souls. But when one of these confessions strikes particularly close to home, it throws everything that Sonny has ever believed about his father's death into question.

Homicide Inspector Simon Kefas was once Sonny's father best friend. On the surface, his current cases are random acts of violence, driven by petty theft or drugs. But as Simon investigates, he begins to suspect that the perpetrator is driven by a much more powerful motive. And he isn't finished. When the crimes of the present become caught up with the ghosts of the past, Simon may be the only one that can help Sonny to uncover the truth he needs.

`The Son' is filled with a whole cast of unsavoury and untrustworthy characters and layer upon layer of deceit. But somehow, Jo Nesbo manages to turn our perceptions of good and bad completely on their head, as the lines between justice and law and right and wrong become increasingly blurred.

This theme of vengeance, retribution and justice is constantly present throughout the book. People can never truly seem to escape the sins of their past, and we're start to question whether they should. And if they deserve to be punished, what should we think of the person doing the punishing? In fact, there's a general sense throughout the book that sometimes, crimes can be are both justified and inevitable.

By contrast, the law is presented as increasingly untrustworthy, with prison governors and police officers under the pay of crime lords. I know that a corrupt police force isn't anything new in this genre, but in this case I was literally left questioning the motives of every single character that crossed the page.

`The Son' is packed full of action, with multiple crime scenes and twist after twist - swiftly followed by another twist! As a reader, we're thrown from one situation to another, keeping up a relentless pace that culminates in a dramatic and explosive conclusion. Almost everyone we come across has their own agenda - having either committed some kind of crime, made an enemy of someone or joined a clandestine alliance of some sort.

This kind of plot device worked well in terms of making it harder for me to predict what was coming next, but there were also a lot of characters to remember and keep track of. This had the effect of being quite confusing. On top of that, we're also left almost entirely to our own devices to put together clues and work out people's motives. At one point, I was left totally clueless as to how events had got to a certain point, but just had to carry on reading, hoping that the author would eventually explain everything. Luckily everything became clear in the end, but I did feel a bit lost at some points.

That said, I really enjoyed it. It got to the point when I was actually glad when my train got delayed because I literally could not put it down!
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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 beloved 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 really 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.
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on 10 April 2014
A great and rather eerie start - in prison a junkie, who is barely on this planet, who has healing hands and gives blessings and a priest who is quite the opposite. And the junkie's father was an Oslo police officer who committed suicide because he was corrupt. I was hooked and the scene is set one of the best books I've read recently. There is fluency in the writing as always - the quality of it stands out for me over many other current crime thriller writers. You realise that a really good writer can convey more in a sentence than other writers in a paragraph and make that a great read - real talent. Certainly the power of creating a scene with simple words plays out quite often and with very varied emotions generated. At times humourous (bleakly so sometime), at times very violent, we enter the world of corruption and organised crime.

So in addition to the junkie, we have a policeman who knew the junkie's father and the policeman has some issues of his own which is not surprising given Harry Hole's character. I really liked the character of Simon Kefas (the policeman) as well as his sidekick. However I find that I am no fan of reviews that give too much away so I'll leave you to discover the storylines that evolve from this setting for yourself. Unsurprisingly there is definitely a "dark avenger" theme here and the twists when they come are interesting even if some of them were maybe not unexpected. So often you read a very good book but the ending lets it down - not so here, the final scenes were very good indeed and the final twist I did not expect. I certainly didn't expect to say that I think this is better than the majority of the Harry Hole stories either. I enjoyed the "philosophy of man and his condition" at the end too. One of those books I really didn't want to end in part because I had some suspicions of what that end might be.

As a big fan of Jo Nesbo's writing I would suggest that this will be a "must have" book for Harry Hole fans and would be a great introduction to Jo Nesbo's work for fans of dark crime thrillers. I'd love to see another story developing some of the main characters in this - it might be possible, I'll keep my fingers crossed. Whatever else I'll certainly look forward to reading the next Jo Nesbo.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review
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Say what you will, Jo Nesbo's new book, 'The Son' has everything that a good mystery/procedural novel needs. Even though much of what occurs seems a little 'out there', and the violence may be too much to bear, the storyline, itself is enough for me. This is a long book, but kept my interest so that the last page seemed to beg for more.

Nesbo is well known for his series featuring Harry Hole, however, Harry is on vacation, and this is a story that may develop its own heroine. The latest is 'The Son' which tells the story of Sonny, a 30-year-old heroin addict who has been in prison in a new state-of-the-art facility in Oslo, for over 12 years. What we find is that Sonny has developed into a Buddha like character, soft spoken, when he does speak. Sitting in his cell most of the day bestowing whatever those who come to see him, need. He is the son of a police officer who committed suicide for breaking the law. Sonny and his mother idolized his father, and when his mother dies, Sonny drifts to heroin and is convinced to confess to murder in exchange for all the heroin he needs. One day Sonny learns all is not as he was told, and he breaks out of jail and starts exacting his own justice.

At about the same time, we meet Inspector Simon Kefas, one of the most intelligent and wise of the police. Known for his ethics in his work, he is admired and feared. Simon once was a gambling addict, but the love of his good wife set him on the path to the good life. Now, his wife is ill, and Simon must figure out how to best help her. On this day, when Simon is investigating a new death, a young policewoman, Kari Adel, is introduced. He is to be her mentor. Together, they form a team that seems unbeatable, but all is not as it seems. Finding and stopping Sonny's murderous rampage is their job. Good Luck.

This is a novel with much to say about it. The good guys, the bad guys, love, hate, pathos and revenge. So much more, but that is left for you to discover.
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on 21 April 2014
A good read and a page turner.

It concerns a heroin addict who has been in jail for twelve years and escapes to avenge his father's death. However, despite having been incarcerated since being a teenager, upon escaping he becomes a ninja-esque James Bond character who can outwit the police and seasoned gangsters. A little far-fetched methinks. Also, doesn't have the dark humour of Harry Hole.

Still, a reasonable read, especially if you need a fix of Nordic Noir.
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on 7 June 2014
Having been a great fan for some time of Nesbo' s Harry Hole series I was looking forward to this but found it almost impossible to get started for some reason.
Eventually after much persistence it suddenly clicked into place. The result was to find this was even better than the earlier Hole books.
Slightly worrying to find I was concerned about the outcome for a mass murdering drug addict but I found the main character very sympathetic. ,Very well paced with plenty of twists and suspense this was exactly what I look forward to
in a thriller.
Thouroughly recommend
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(4.5 stars) Though the plot here is every bit as fast-paced as those of Nesbo’s Harry Hole novels, the scope is smaller and more intimate, and for the first time, Nesbo seems to be allowing the reader inside his characters, making the characters and themes more complex and fully-developed. The novel is tightly organized and totally controlled, and I suspect that it will be HUGE – the biggest-selling book Nesbo has ever had, and he’s had a bundle.

The novel’s opening is packed full of information which sets the scene and introduces characters in Oslo’s maximum security prison. Sonny Lofthus, a thirty-year-old man, has been jailed for the past twelve years after admitting to killing two people, a false confession which he gave willingly at age eighteen in a deal with officials which has guaranteed him a never-ending supply of drugs while in prison. His father, Ab Lofthus, whom he idolized, had committed suicide when Sonny was a teen, confessing in writing that he had been a crooked cop, a mole within the department. Sonny got hooked on drugs, and went downhill from there. When Sonny then learns from a prison old-timer the name of the powerful, big-time criminal who actually killed his father, Sonny determines to avenge his father.

All this – and much more – happens in just the first fifty pages of the novel, as Nesbo introduces a dozen or more characters, and provides the motivation and methods by which Sonny will seek justice, not just for his father but for himself and all those others that he knows have been wronged. Sonny and the other victims are depicted with depth and understanding here, and the reader quickly discovers that the absolutes of right and wrong, which most of us take for granted in our own lives, do not apply here. Simon Kefas, the inspector who investigates the new murder, is rather like Sonny, and has problems himself, namely a gambling addiction which he fights every day and the common threads between Sonny and Simon make both of them more human.

The novel continues to broaden after Sonny’s escape (announced in the first sentence of the book jacket), and there are many scenes which long-time Nesbo readers will find surprising, including some humor, a tender love story, and a poignant story of hero-worship. The violence for which Nesbo’s novels are noted continues here, but in a more personal setting than what long-time readers are accustomed to. The ironies and twists at the end of the novel are unforgettable, though many readers will probably figure out parts of the conclusion ahead of time.

Nesbo often uses religious imagery here, from the title of the book to its opening quotation: “And he will come again to judge the living and the dead.” The concepts of guilt and atonement as motivations for avoiding evil pervade the novel, as characters often behave as they do to atone for past “sins,” rather than because of their inherent sense of what is good and right. The novel sometimes veers into the sentimental, romantic, and coincidental (a new and unique criticism of Nesbo), but many readers will find this a welcome change from the horrors which have characterized so many Nesbo novels in the past.
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on 15 May 2014
“People called the boy Sonny and said that he had killed two people as a teenager, that his father had been a corrupt police officer and that Sonny had healing hands “

And so this is how we meet Sonny, a heroin addict, jailed in the Staten prison. He’s in prison because he’s admitted to killing two people. Staten Prison is the brainchild of Arild Franck, the ruthless Assistant Prison Governor.

Sonny hears from a fellow prisoner that his father’s supposed suicide was in fact, a murder and this drives him to escape and take justice into his own hands.

Chief Inspector Simon Kefas is assigned a new partner Kari Adel, a young female detective, transferred from the drug squad to homicide. She has not even managed to settle in to the team, when they are called out to the murder of Agnete Iversen in Holmenkollåsen, a very wealthy suburb of Oslo. This is the first murder that will link back to the “suicide” of Ab Lofthus,

I have followed Jo Nesbo through all the Harry Hole books. He creates people who are real and people you can relate to. However, in this book he seems to have taken his writing to a new place. A deeper more intense space where you find yourself thinking “Come on Sonny I’m right behind you (almost condoning) your actions to uncover the despicable world of crime, trafficking, drug smuggling and the complete lack of humanity towards those involved”. I had to read this book slowly, because I wanted it to touch me on all levels. The descriptions that Jo Nesbo uses, the depth of feeling that the characters have and just the fact that sometimes justice of a different kind has to be meted out.

Jo Nesbo – thank you for this excellent book.

5 Stars - Treebeard
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on 13 August 2015
I am an admirer of Nesbo's work. His novels are fast-paced, densely plotted, and full of interesting characters. However, The Son brutally exposes his limitations.

This is not a Harry Hole novel. But it might just as well be, as we are on very familiar territory - revenge, unpleasant murders, drug addicts and dealers and police, both noble and corrupt. Instead of Hole, Nesbo gives us Simon Kefas, who is a very pale imitation. He is driven, decent, highly competent, beset by the Demons of his past (Of course!) and about 99% less interesting than Hole.

The Protagonist, however, is Sonny Lofthus (aka The Son). As a side note, this is a book beset by characters whose titles are 'The' Something, so we also have The Twin (evil criminal overlord) and The Mole (pesky cop informer), which is a bit like Lazy Tarantino, a genre which should have its own library classification. Sonny is (by some distance) the weakest element of this novel. When we meet him, he is an imprisoned heroin addict, who hears confessions from fellow inmates, and (in exchange for drugs) confesses to the crimes of others. From the outset, Nesbo is at pains to give Sonny an other-worldly innocence, which makes people talk to him. Sonny escapes and commences a programme of revenge against those who have harmed his family and caused the suicide of his father (also a cop). Suddenly, Sonny becomes Bond / Bourne, coming up with amazing plans (which always work, because people do exactly what Sonny needs them to do to make the plan work), using amazing physical strength and fighting techniques.

Confession - I have not met a huge number of long-term heroin addicts, so this is speculation, but I am guessing that they are neither ace fighters, not capable of executing hugely elaborate plans. Likewise, I am somewhat sceptical about someone who has been in prison since he was 18, but who has an uncanny knack of knowing exactly the right amount of information to implement an elaborate revenge plan.

One can forgive the plot absurdities, though, as par for the course. More grating are the pretensions inherent in Sonny, which really show that Nesbo goes off the rails when he tries to leave his home territory. Is Sonny supposed to be Christ-like in some way, with his innocence, his ability to understand others' thoughts, intentions and weaknesses and his enthusiasm to absolve sin? Is 'The Son', a sledgehammer-subtle reference to 'The Son of God'. It seemed so to me, and if so, the ambition falls squarely over on its face, because there is not only no explanation of why Sonny should have these abilities, but they also serve purely as a plot driver, rather than because Nesbo has anything to say about them. Sonny has amazing abilities, so he can kick more ass and skirt around gaping plot holes. That's it.

Nesbo is very, very good at what he does as an author. However, here he shows that he operates in a very narrow spectrum.
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