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May 11, 2014 / schulerbooks

The Son, by Jo Nesbo

9780385351379

Deep in the bowels of Staten Maximum Security Prison, a saint sits in his cell — healing others while harming himself.

His name is Sonny, and the prisoners love him. They say he has healing hands, and can absolve you of your sins. He’s good to talk to, mostly because he just listens.

He just sits and watches with those eyes.

The corrupt prison hierarchy loves him, too, but for different reasons. He’s willing to take the rap for murders that take place outside of the prison walls in exchange for heroin. Killings their equally-corrupt friends need swept out of their zone of blame, and into someone else’s.

Someone who’s happy to take others sins onto himself.

Sonny is in his thirties. He’s spent over a decade rotting in prison, expecting nothing but junk for blame, convinced he deserves this, somehow.

But then someone comes to confess something to him — something that changes everything — and then Sonny is gone. He pulls off a daring escape from the prison he’s called home, and the people who’ve been using him to cover up their murders.

And then he starts to kill people for real.

This does not go unnoticed, of course. An aging Chief Inspector with a troubled past, already investigating a mysterious death, gets drawn into the vortex this young man sets off. Before long, he and his reluctant assistant learn there is more at work than just a killer with a grudge. There is a curious design here, executed with cunning distractions and brutal efficiency.

The sort of things one learns to do when one hears the confessions of hardened criminals, day after day, year after year.

Can they stop this killer before he reaches his goal, whatever it may be? Should they? And if they don’t get to him first, will the previously-untouchable criminals he’s going through reach up to take their revenge before he can complete his own?

Only one thing is for certain: people have sinned, and they will pay.

All of them.

Fans of Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole books may be initially dismayed that he hasn’t continued that man’s story in his latest standalone work. However, while The Son is tangential at best to the dark, bleak, and corrupt world Hole must tread through, its atmosphere is such that one almost expects our favorite Inspector-on-the-outs to appear from around a corner, solution in hand.

Which is a fancy way of saying that The Son is an excellent addition to what’s clearly become a must-read author of dark European crime fiction. The usual Nesbo touches are at work, here: crime and corruption that touches all levels, puzzle boxes of motive and identity, and the hope that one may somehow be able to escape the man-made darkness, if only for the moment.

If you’ve been clamoring for more Nesbo, now that his Harry Hole collection has all been translated into English, you need to get your hands on The Son. It’s that simple, though little else about this brutal story of revenge and redemption is.

And that’s how we like our Nesbo novels.

The Son drops May 13th. It will be available at all Schuler Books and Music locations, and can be ordered through our website.

– Jim Tremlett, Eastwood

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