cover image The Son

The Son

Jo Nesbø, trans. from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund, read by Gildart Jackson. Random House Audio, , unabridged, 14 CDs, 17.5 hrs., $45 ISBN 978-0-553-39782-6

At the beginning of this standalone from Nesbø—the reigning master of the Norwegian crime thriller, best known for his Harry Hole series (Police, etc.)—Sonny Lofthus is serving time in a maximum-security prison for crimes he didn’t commit, in exchange for a never-ending supply of heroin from his jailors. Sonny became an addict as a teen, after his father, Ab, a corrupt cop, apparently committed suicide. When a fellow inmate raises questions about Ab’s death, Sonny devises an ingenious escape plan and exacts revenge upon those responsible for his father’s downfall. On his trail is Simon Kefas, an aging cop and close friend of Ab’s, and the Twin, a shadowy gangster who traffics in underage Belorussian girls. The book is set in Oslo, which, seen through Nesbø’s eyes, is a cesspool of corruption, drug addiction, and general depravity. Jackson turns in a solid performance, guiding the reader through the tangle of multisyllabic Norwegian names while delivering on the plot’s many twists and turns. He uses an array of British accents to differentiate the large cast of characters. Jackson’s one misstep is the voice chosen for Sonny: it sounds hollow and awkward, almost Bullwinklesque. Fortunately this doesn’t slow the story down (Sonny being the laconic type), and the effect seems less jarring as the novel progresses. A Knopf hardcover. (May)