Hardcover, 416 pages
The author of the best-selling Harry Hole series now gives us an electrifying stand-alone novel set inside Oslo’s maze of especially venal, high-level corruption.
Sonny Lofthus is a strangely charismatic and complacent young man. Sonny’s been in prison for a dozen years, nearly half his life. The inmates who seek out his uncanny abilities to soothe leave his cell feeling absolved. They don’t know or care that Sonny has a serious heroin habit—or where or how he gets his uninterrupted supply of the drug. Or that he’s serving time for other peoples’ crimes.
Sonny took the first steps toward addiction when his father took his own life rather than face exposure as a corrupt cop. Now Sonny is the seemingly malleable center of a whole infrastructure of corruption: prison staff, police, lawyers, a desperate priest—all of them focused on keeping him high and in jail. And all of them under the thumb of the Twin, Oslo’s crime overlord. As long as Sonny gets his dope, he’s happy to play the criminal and the prison’s in-house savior.
But when he learns a stunning, long-hidden secret concerning his father, he makes a brilliantly executed escape from prison—and from the person he’d let himself become—and begins hunting down those responsible for the crimes against him . . . The darkly looming question is: Who will get to him first—the criminals or the cops?
The Son by Jo Nesbo is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys a well written, dark, gritty thriller/crime fiction with lots of twists and turns.
Sonny Lofthus, the son, is viewed as someone who can absolve people of their sins or misdeeds by his fellow inmates at Oslo’s Staten Maximum Security Prison because of his calm demeanor and almost nonverbal interaction with them. He's serving a sentence at the prison for two murders he didn't commit. Sonny is also a drug addict. He confessed to the murders in exchange for the heroin officials will provide to him. It started when Sonny's father, Ab, a cop, hanged himself, leaving behind a note confessing to all his illegal misdeeds in the force. Sonny was manipulated into confessing to killing his father by corrupt officials in exchange for the heroin.
After twelve years in prison, Sonny is told that his heroin supply will be cut off if he doesn't confess to a new murder. Then, when an inmate dying of cancer, Johannes Halden, comes to Sonny begging forgiveness for his part in Ab's murder, Sonny is motivated to kick his addiction. With Johannes’ help, he escapes from prison and starts a killing spree targeting everyone he suspects of having played a role in his father's murder. Once out, Sonny begins to untangle the many threads of corruption that are interwoven throughout the many officials and criminals involved.
The Son is an extremely well written novel with a complicated plot full of twists and turns. The characters are all well developed and ther plot is intricate. But it is also a very violent, gritty, dark thriller. There is a lot of violence along with the action, but it is all intrinsic to the plot rather than gratuitous. Nesbo's stand alone novel not featuring detective Harry Hole, is also full of religious allegory. For those who enjoy Swedish crime fiction, Nesbo is an obvious choice.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Knopf Doubleday for review purposes.