Some books are better in print and some in an audio version. This one is meant to be listened to, in order to get the full effect of the mesmerizing voice of The Son, Sonny Lofthus, whose priest-like aura encourages those who seek forgiveness to come to him for absolution, even in prison. He seems to have a special gift, a mystical power that motivates people to trust him and awakens sudden spiritual and G-dly feelings in those with whom he communicates, inspiring them to change their behavior and believe in themselves.
In prison, per his request, Sonny is kept in a constant drug-induced stupor by certain compromised law enforcement conspirators. He entered prison at age 18 and was now near 30. To obtain drugs, he freely confessed guilt to crimes he had not committed, sparing the guilty from judgment and punishment. Completely disillusioned and bereft after discovering the body of his father Ab Lofthus, both Sonny and his mother descended into a state of despair. The suicide note revealed that Ab had been a corrupt cop, and this was devastating news for Sonny who worshiped and wanted to be just like his father.
Early on in the book, the true story of Sonny’s father’s death is revealed, and it is the catalyst for Sonny’s monumental change of character. He licks his addiction and no longer wishes to remain in a stupor, doing the bidding of the bad guys, accepting whatever punishment is meted out, simply for a high. Now, suddenly, he wants a different escape, he wants out of the prison he has essentially made his home. Using deceit and manipulation, serenity and otherworldliness, Sonny manages to escape and set off on a path of what seems to be serial murder. He wants to avenge his father’s death and discover the true identity of the mole in the police force and, consequently, his dad’s murderers. Simon Kefas, a police officer whose career was stopped in its tracks because of his former gambling addiction, was once a good friend of Ab Lofthus. As the murder mystery unfolds at a fast pace, Simon chases Sonny down.
It is a mesmerizing, page turning tale which grabs you and won’t let go. In this audio, the reader, Gildart Jackson, is amazing, perfectly capturing the spiritual nature and demeanor of the boy, now grown into a man after spending the past 12 years in prison. The story is like a tree with many branches that is skillfully handled by Nesbo, always returning the reader to the main thread, before introducing another, so the story and the characters remain intact. I found that I did not want to turn the audio off, it was so engaging. The characters were very authentic. Some had secrets affecting how they lived their lives, and this only increased the tension and excitement of the story.
The ending was a total surprise with all loose ends tied up agreeably. We are left with a few philosophical questions to ponder. Are we capable of changing our behavior, or like the scorpion and the frog, are we merely victims of our own nature unable to change our responses? Is murder ever justified by extenuating circumstances? Is forgiveness a universal yearning, and can we all be forgiven no matter what our sins may be?