Overall I found this book to be overly complex and rather far-fetched even for Jo Nesbo.
The eponymous son, is heroin addict inmate Sonny Lofthus, son of a policeman who took his own life. Sonny is a consenting scapegoat for a number of crimes he didn’t commit as long as he continues to get his supply of drugs. He is looked upon by the other inmates as some kind of saint who will hear their confessions and absolve them of their sins.
The other main character is Simon Kefas is a veteran policeman in the Oslo homicide bureau who used to work with Sonny’s father. He’s no Harry Hole but it’s hard to get into his character as a recovered gambler and husband to a wife who is going blind and needs money for a big operation in America. His background is built up by Nesbo more it seems to help the construction of the story rather than in an attempt to build a realistic character.
The trigger for what is essentially a story of revenge is Sonny being told by one of the inmates that his father didn’t commit suicide but was killed off to protect a mole within the police who was helping a criminal kingpin. Sonny manages to escape from an inescapable prison (and in fact pops back in later in the book to have a chat with the warden) with his old CD Walkman and Depeche Mode’s Violator album.
It was great to see another writer using Depeche Mode in his story (God knows I’ve done it any number of times now) and also how he writes about a complex love between Martha who works at the addict’s hostel and Sonny. What was not so great was the concept of ‘the twin’ which seemed a pointless added complication, the rather obvious foreshadowing that Simon was not all he seemed, the idea that Sonny can keep popping back to his old house without getting picked up by the police and the overly elaborate interconnectedness of all the characters.
I have read that this story will be made into a Hollywood film and I hope that during the screenwriting process some of the unnecessary intricacy is stripped away, but that Depeche Mode remains on the soundtrack.