‘The Son’ by Jo Nesbo

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.

The SonNow 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! Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC.


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