Jo Nesbø – The Son – A Book Review


Oh my dear blog readers and followers I have been a lazy Gruffsdad and for that I apologise. As always I have been reading lots and lots but not reviewing and this is a bad thing, I’ll try not to let it happen again. 

So here we go with my views on Jo Nesbø’s latest ‘The Son’ which I was sent by Harvill Secker to read and review and my thanks go to them for doing so. As you might have seen in an earlier post,* in February I sat down and read all ten of Nesbø’s Harry Hole books. I enjoyed doing so even though there were times when I wavered a bit and had to have a break and read something else but I did it and when I saw that he had a new standalone book coming out I got a little bit excited and added it to my Kindle pile. 

‘The Son’ in question is the son of an Oslo policeman who committed suicide having admitted to being corrupt and he’s been in prison for many years having confessed to the murders of two people. Whilst inside has become a confessor to his fellow prisoners and it’s during one of these confessions that he is spurred into escaping and undertaking a mission of revenge, the reasons for which become clearer as the book progresses. At the same time a colleague of his father’s is investigating the murders and trying to find the link between the seemingly unrelated victims.  

Nesbø’s depiction of the Oslo homeless and how and where they live is excellent throughout and he portrays the small details of how they eat, how they are clothed and basically how they survive with a non-judgemental attitude and he explores the alliances and divides that can be formed and just how quickly once can be absorbed in that community. As someone who worked within the homeless community for many years I thought that Nesbø’s portrayal of that world was spot on and not the usual sniffing glue and drinking meths picture that some writers often fall back upon.

Nesbø’s scope in The Son is all encompassing, police corruption, fraud, hotel workers, people trafficking, drug taking and dealing, growing up, death – they are all in here and the little touches such as the back story of the cab driver were unexpectedly touching and in contrast to the Hole books where I felt that some characters were underdeveloped and at times just completely forgotten about. 

The Son becomes a folk hero as his mission continues and he also falls in love and these positive aspects of the story almost negate the fact that actually he is killing people left right and centre and at various points I did find myself asking how would people respond if a man was killing off members of the criminal fraternity. We’ve reached a point in society where such actions can be condoned by media commentators and politicians can defend the annexation of country’s land by other nations so is the reaction of the Norwegian public to The Son unrealistic or is it uncomfortable?

The Son asks us to look at think about redemption, forgiveness and what we would do to protect those we love what I liked about was the moral ambiguity that it threw up in asking us to think about these things. 

The Son seemed so lovely, so sad and so mistreated but he was killing drug dealers in horrible ways that surely meant that I should have been rooting for the Police to catch him but I didn’t. I wanted him to get his revenge, to get away and to get the girl – to find out if he did then I really recommend that you read The Son.


* That I really should have posted ages ago


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