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.