Review: The Sons

Review: THE SONS, by Anton Svensson, published by Sphere, Hardback £18.99

ISBN:978 0 7515 57777 0

This is a book by authors I had not heard of. Anton Svensson is a writing partnership between Stefan Thunberg, a celebrated screenwriter, and Anders Roslund, an investigative journalist.Their first book, “Father”, achieved rave reviews, and I was keen to see why.

The story is one of a family torn apart, and the impact on the children of a violent father who was guilty of a vicious attack on their mother. It starts with the immediate aftermath of the attack, and explains how the brothers decide to look after themselves.

Initially, their issue is money. Their father has been taken to prison, their mother is in hospital, and although there are concerns for the trio, a neighbour agrees to help, and it’s felt that the boys are safe enough in their own home.

What the social workers don’t realise is that the older boy, Leo Duvnjac (don’t ask me how to pronounce that name), has already thought through a means of making money. It involves a robbery.

The brothers are launched on a career as bank robbers, and with Leo successfully planning, the three become the country’s most wanted men.

Their career could not continue. They were caught, and jailed, with Leo being imprisoned for six years. While inside, he met Sam Larsen (which I can pronounce), and this was the beginning of the book’s story. Because Sam had murdered his brother, and his brother was the man who had arrested Leo.

And now both are out of prison, and both want revenge.

This is a powerful story, with a strong cast of characters, and a rather grim, bleak storyline. Does that make it Scandi-Noir? Possibly. If so, it’s the fourth of that genre I’ve read. I absorbed the Millennium series with enthusiasm, but those are the only Scandinavian books I’ve read, from memory.

Okay, what did I like about the story?

It was, as I say, a strong storyline, with a series of events and plotlines that keep the reader bowling along. It was also a book that had an interesting back story and depiction of a culture that was entirely new to me.

However, I did not find it as gripping as I had expected. I am not sure why – perhaps because of one aspect that I did find unconvincing, and that was the depiction of women in the story.

I was thinking about this for some time after reading the book, and before I put my fingers to the keyboard to write this review.

There are two main women in the story. One is the key victim early on, the mother of the three boys. But I never really felt that I was truly involved in her life. Her part in the story was, to me, little more than a filler to allow the brothers to have a motivation to turn to crime. Although she does appear later in the book, she never felt fully rounded to me.

The second woman is a police officer, a senior detective, who appears almost with fanfare, but who then almost disappears. Her role in the story seems very tangential.

Now, as always, I will add my usual rider that just because I didn’t enjoy the story as much as, say, the latest Harlan Coben, doesn’t mean others won’t. The plot was good, the characterisation strong – for the men. You may well find that you love the book.

Would I give it a five star rating? Probably not. I liked it, it was entertaining for a while, but not the best book of its type. Perhaps a four star.

Happy reading!

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