Woeful Wednesday: The Son

Posted 19 August, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Woeful Wednesday: The SonThe Son by Jo Nesbo
Published by Random House Incorporated on 2014
Genres: Crime, Fiction, Hard-Boiled, International Mystery & Crime, Mystery & Detective, Thrillers
Pages: 401

Sonny Lofthus is a strangely charismatic and complacent young man. Sonny's been in prison for a dozen years, nearly half his life. The inmates who seek out his uncanny abilities to soothe leave his cell feeling absolved. They don't know or care that Sonny has a serious heroin habit--or where or how he gets his uninterrupted supply of the drug. Or that he's serving time for other peoples' crimes.

Sonny took the first steps toward addiction when his father took his own life rather than face exposure as a corrupt cop. Now Sonny is the seemingly malleable center of a whole infrastructure of corruption: prison staff, police, lawyers, a desperate priest--all of them focused on keeping him high and in jail. And all of them under the thumb of the Twin, Oslo's crime overlord. As long as Sonny gets his dope, he's happy to play the criminal and the prison's in-house savior. But when he 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 darkly looming question is: Who will get to him first--the criminals or the cops?

So this book had the Scandinavian type presence that you feel in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Lots of violence, mysterious and deeply flawed main character, a hardboiled cop with serious secrets, etc. etc. It seems like Scandinavian crime drama is becoming a genre unto itself.

Part of my problem with this book definitely can be traced back to the narration. At first I thought that since I was listening to The Son using CDs instead of Audible, which I speed up to at least 1.25x normal speed, that maybe I just wasn’t used to how slowly normal narrators read. But since I’ve finished The Son, I’ve started listening to I Am Pilgrim, also an audio CD – and the narration speed is just fine. I rambled through all that to say that the narrator was reading waaaaayyyy too slowly. Since I listened to this in heavy traffic I found it frustrating.

But even discounting the irritating slowness of the narration, The Son had some additional problems for me as far as storyline went. Some of the so-called twists were visible from a mile away in dense fog. I mean cut me a break Nesbø, if you want to write a thriller – write a thriller.

The other issue with this book that the application of Sonny Lofthus as the Messiah is applied in the most heavy handed manner. I love symbolism and religious undertones, but Nesbø’s attempt to use Christ-like imagery and allegory was way too obvious to be of any interest.

I’m fascinated with Scandinavia and Oslo in particular, but The Son was a failure to launch for me. To be fair, I didn’t particularly care for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, so I’d probably recommend this book to fans of that series.

The old question, Reader, can the performance of an audio book affect your views on the novel and story as a whole? Anyone out there who adores Nesbø or The Son?


April @ The Steadfast Reader


  • I read Nesbo after loving the Dragon Tattoo series and did really love the first book of his that I read…The Snowman. But, I tried him twice more after that and was disappointed (and now can’t even remember the names of the 2 books that disappointed me!).

  • Boooo! I’ve thought about reading Nesbø but now likely won’t bother, audio or otherwise. :/

    Have you read Wolf Winter by Cecilia Eckbäck? I snagged a copy on NG (I think they’re re-releasing it in paperback in November), and it’s described as a “Nordic noir thriller.” Sounds like it might be up your alley!

  • Yikes. I thought of trying out Nesbo, I’ve heard good things. But this doesn’t seem like a book I would like. I definitely wouldn’t make it through one CD of narration like that.

  • I haven’t read Nesbo, but my husband did and wasn’t impressed, and we both LOVE the Millennium trilogy–soon to have a fourth book released, though, of course, not wholly written by Larsson. 🙁 And, yes, that’s why I don’t listen to audiobooks!! Though I have a rather long commute and should. I may start “rereading” through audio books however, that might work for me. Nice post!

  • Nishita

    I generally tend to find most audio books waay too slow, and I tend to drift off. So audio books rarely work for me unless it’s poetry or something like that. I

    I read The Son sometime last year, and quite liked it.