Book Reviews

The Son – Jo Nesbø – Audible Review

The Son Jo Nesbo

The Son by Jo Nesbo – Review by Helen O’Leary

Translated by Charlotte Barslund. Read by Sean Barrett.

Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø is known best for his popular crime novels about Inspector Harry Hole. The Son is a stand-alone crime novel introducing readers to a raft of new characters.

Sonny Lofthus is the principal player. Sonny has been incarcerated in a high security prison since his teenage years and framed for several murders he has had no hand in. Sonny’s troubles and addiction problems began following his father’s suicide. His father was a policeman accused of corruption and exposed as an informer. Now new information has come to light about the circumstances surrounding his father’s death and Sonny makes his escape from prison. He is determined to hunt down his father old enemies; while he himself is hunted.

This novel presents a bleaker aspect of Norway, where corruption, homelessness and drug addiction are rife. In this world violence is endemic and a substantial body count amasses quickly. The story is narrated by Sean Barrett who overall has a pleasing voice with perhaps one exception. Sonny’s words are vocalised by an irritatingly lethargic voice, bringing an insipid Edgar Linton to mind rather than vengeful young man.

Crime fiction is generally plot focused but in order for this forty four-chapter novel to sustain interest, colorful and engaging characters are necessary. Nesbo introduces a motley crew of prison, drug barons, ex policemen and petty criminals. Sonny is an enigmatic and puzzling sort of hero. His rampage of revenge is at odds with the serene model prisoner we are introduced to in the first chapters. Although understandably seeking to avenge his father’s death, all his assassinations do not seem justified. It’s difficult therefore to empathize with the main character and fully buy into the main plot. There is however several sub-plots. Nesbo switches between these and keeps the story rattling along at a good pace. He occasional strays into passages that preach on good and evil. These seem slightly misplaced wisdom when the violence is gratuitous.

All criticisms aside Nesbo’s new novel is no doubt destined to be hugely successful. It is easy and entertaining listening and running at over fourteen hours it kept me good company and on several train journeys and commutes to work. It would make for an undemanding enjoyable holiday listen.

The Son by Jo Nesbo is available on Audible here.

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