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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Son by Jo Nesbø

Well, realism it has not. There is a lot of religious (more specifically, Christian or Catholic) references in the novel, making it rather clear that the eponymous character is supposed to have some basis in Jesus. Yeah, what a Jesus it is! Murders and mayhem this Jesus brings to the underworld of Oslo. At times it reads like one of those relentlessly violent movies currently in vogue, and even the underlying dramatic drive is the same as those movies --- revenge. It gets a bit tiresome just because of the hardened indifference to all the bloodletting. The characters are pretty cardboard and the details quickly descend into incredulity after a few chapters of neat Sherlock Holmesian detective work early on. I know he is striving for the religious symbolism, but the insistence of the avenger's purity and innocence gets pretty hokey as the bodies pile up. I mean come on!

But as a thriller it's all done in good fun. The thing that actually bothers me is his (by now obvious) machismo. It's not misogyny, but still it is irritating that the women in Nesbo's books always need rescuing by the men. He kind of tries to keep it under control in the Harry Hole series, but here the romantic scenes between Jesus, I mean Sonny, and his Magdalena --- a weak and withering flower of a social worker --- are so sappy it makes paperback romances look sophisticated. The amount of violence does not drown out the bad romance, sorry.

Anyway, the thing is, Nesbo is the best writer at pacing, bar none. Man oh man I wish I had his secret of relentless, impeccable, addictive pacing. How the hell does he do it?

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