The Son - Jo Nesbo

I'm a huge fan of this author's Harry Hole series so wasn't sure what to expect from this stand alone novel. If you've been wondering, don't. Just get it. 

This is the story of Sonny Lofthus, a young man who went off the rails after his father committed suicide. Ab Lofthus was a cop & left a note confessing he was a mole for "the Twin", the shadowy drug lord who still rules Oslo.

Sonny quickly went from honour student & athlete to heroin addict, ending up in prison as a convicted murderer. But that barely scratches the surface. Eventually we learn the truth of how he came to be there, why he stays & the powerful men who use him.

Everything changes when an aging fellow inmate comes to him looking for forgiveness. Sonny has always had a special something, a gentle, peaceful presence that makes others confess their darkest secrets then walk away feeling absolved of their sins. This time the confession rocks his world & sets him on a path seeking his own kind of justice.

This is also the story of another cop, CI Simon Kefas. He came up through the ranks with Ab & knew him well. Well respected as a detective, he almost lost it all due to a gambling addiction. But that was years ago, before he met a beautiful young woman who later became his wife. These days his biggest problem is that she is slowly going blind.

It's inevitable these two men will cross paths as Sonny begins to exact revenge & Simon sets out to stop him. They are more alike that they know. Both are decent men capable of doing horrible things as well as acts of great kindness. Both have been betrayed & used by those with more power. And both are seeking redemption for past mistakes.

There is so much more to this book: a large cast of compelling characters, multiple plot lines, smart, economic dialogue & expert pacing.  The author does a great job of slowly revealing details over the course of the story. Particularly toward the end, as we sense the impending showdown, some of these tidbits will not only alter how you see some of the characters but make your jaw drop. I found myself rethinking earlier events & comments that seemed inconsequential at the time & only then realizing their significance. 

The end is a mixed bag. Some of the characters survive, some don't & some get what they karmically deserve. All I know is once I started reading, I couldn't put it down until I had learned all their fates. 

You can't ask for more than that.