When Sonny learns a stunning, long-hidden secret concerning his father, he makes a brilliantly executed escape from prison—and from the person he’d let himself become—and begins hunting down those responsible for the crimes against him.
The characters pour forth in a Dickensian torrent. And as you’d expect from the Norwegian crime author of the moment — perhaps the crime author of the moment, period — Nesbø presents Oslo as a dwindling star that disappoints its Oslovians. The city reflects their private miseries … In a novel of elaborate, shifting father-son relationships — real and assumed — Nesbø’s most complicated characters seek redemption by spanning their private Vaterland Bridge between old and new Oslo, and their old and new selves.
Once Sonny learns that his father was in fact murdered to save his family, all Christ-like comparisons must end. He quits a 12-year heroin habit cold turkey, then plots and executes a daring escape from prison. From there, he methodically avenges those responsible for the death of his father, and by extension his mother, who, broken by grief, followed his father into the afterlife. As this is a Nesbø story, nobody dies a quick or merciful death … The pace of the novel is fast, the characters (especially Inspector Kefas) complex and well drawn, and the plot smart and tricky. Mr. Nesbø, unlike most of the Scandinavian authors whose works are being imported in mass quantities, has the ability to draw attention to social issues without dropping the plot ball.
The Son...pulses with aggressive energy and splattering ultra-violence … Like any long work of sugary entertainment, it lags in spots and performs most poorly when depth is expected. The plot is fun and often complex, but the novel is flashier than it is meaningful. Nesbø addresses good and evil, sin and redemption, and even allows for a fair amount of moral ambiguity, but his treatment of these themes often feels almost incidental … People get drugged, shot and occasionally eaten by dogs; the twists and turns are bold and surprising. Nesbø delivers a revved-up, entertaining red harvest, another guaranteed hit from a forceful thriller machine.