Oslo’s Underworld: The Son

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review.

You know that I love Jo Nesbo. There are few things better than spending the day under a pile of blankets, with sustenance and a pot of tea within reach and a Jo Nesbo thriller.

That’s how I spent a good chunk of Friday and Saturday. And it was a delight.

This time, I read The Son, one of Nesbo’s standalone novels. Until I read this one, I had only read his Harry Hole books. I think The Son might be one of my favourites.

the son

Sonny is a perfect prisoner – he is quiet and acts as a kind of unofficial chaplain and healer to the other inmates. He is serving time for a series of murders, living down the legacy of his father who had killed himself after admitting that he was a mole for a notorious gangster. In exchange for his compliance, Sonny is kept well supplied with heroin. Addicted, without any family, ashamed of his history, it looks like Sonny will live the rest of his days in a kind of stupor, until one of the other inmates confesses his own sins to Sonny. Suddenly Sonny is motivated to stay clean and refuses to confess to another murder that occurred when he had been out on day parole.

Sonny escapes from prison and what follows is a revenge fueled trek through Oslo’s underworld via a possibly still corrupt police force. As Sonny metes out his vigilante justice, his father’s former partner Simon Kefas, finds himself trying to work out what happened all those years, hoping that if he can get to Sonny first, he can bring everything to a peaceful conclusion.

Reading a Harry Hole book, you are tethered to what’s come before and you know that there are books that come after, so Harry will be ok no matter what it looks like. Nesbo has provided no such safety net in The Son which means he’s free to go George R.R. Martin on his characters. No matter how many similar books I read, I still never come to the correct conclusion. The ending was bold and cheeky and perfect. My brother and I had a conversation via text about this one that includes far too many f-bombs to share with you here. Suffice it to say we were both blown away by and completely satisfied with The Son.

I think it might be Nesbo’s best and I’ve read The Snowman.

If you like Camilla Lackberg, enjoyed The Sandman or The Silkworm, The Son is for you.  Bonus: it’s available in paperback now.

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6 thoughts on “Oslo’s Underworld: The Son

  1. Aahhh reading your review makes me remember I really have to start reading this author! Somehow I never read any of his work, even though I’ve heard great things about it and love reading thrillers. The Son goes straight to my TBR list and I’m going to look into the Harry Hole series as well… Do you think it is necessary to read them in order?

  2. I love that you can talk about it with your brother. Sometimes I get to do that with my sisters and my mother, but rarely my brother. And, I love it when authors and their writing are so well known you can use them to describe what happens in other books. Oh, and the book sounds good, too. 🙂

    • We don’t often read the same books, but occasionally we do and then we chat about them. After he read The Dinner I got a text out of the blue “Paul and Claire are sociopaths!” I had no idea what he was talking about because I had no idea he was reading that book. But I caught on and he wasn’t wrong.
      The Son was really very good. I’m kind of blown away by how good Jo Nesbo has become.

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