What better way to beat the Chennai heat than reading a book based in Norway while lounging by the poolside? OK, scratch that. I didn’t exactly lounge by the pool anywhere. I read this book in between chasing around Snubnose and Piglet on the beach, and by the pool, and during sultry afternoons at home while Piglet slept.
I just couldn’t put the book down.
So what’s the book all about?
The story is about Sonny Lofthus – the title character. He is the son of a police inspector who confessed to dishonest practices and killed himself. Sonny is a troubled soul, he is a heroin addict in prison who confesses to crimes he hasn’t committed in exchange for easy access to heroin.
He is fairly content with his prison life until one day he learns a shocking news about his father’s death and this sets him on the path to revenge and justice.
The story is also about Simon Kefas – a detective who is investigating the crimes committed by Sonny as revenge for his father’s death.
The book is told in alternating view points between Sonny and Simon and ends with a thrilling and very satisfactory climax.
My Thoughts on the Book
I love this thriller. Jo Nesbo is an experienced hand at writing mysteries and his mastery really shows through in this book. He writes some terrific characters in Sonny and Simon.
Sonny is not the typical heroin addict. He is a very polite, well-behaved man, kind and gentle. He has a charisma and dignity that draws people towards him. His story is rarely told through his own voice, instead Nesbo uses the voices of the people who come across Sonny to draw an effective character portrait.
Simon Kefas the detective is another complex character whose back story is slowly unraveled as he teaches detective technique to his new detective partner.
With all this character build-up, you know the book takes time to get to the plot. And for the most part that’s OK. I did think that Nesbo got a little too carried away with detail at times. I really didn’t need to know the back-story of the homeless guy and taxicab driver, and all those sundry other characters that populate the book.
However that’s the only nit-pick I have with this book.
The book is classic noir fiction in the Scandinavian style. The book throbs with energy and emotion. And I couldn’t help but sympathize with both Sonny and Simon. Even when Sonny goes on a murderous rampage, it was hard to hate on him. And Simon is the most vulnerable heart-breaking character I’ve read in recent times. He is the epitome of the older, wiser man looking back on a lifetime of mistakes and misjudgments and trying to be a good man and a good police officer.
The ending of the book was a corker – just how I wanted it to be – the perfect mix of bitter-sweet.
Overall, a book I highly recommend.
I am ending this review with a song by Leonard Cohen called Suzanne. This song is featured in the book in a very moving section and I thought it would be perfect to end this review with this song.
Huge thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.