Book review: Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All – by Jonas Jonasson

hitman_anders.jpgI bought the book because I loved the idea: a failed priest, the grandson of a millionaire, and a geriatric hitman just out of prison. Circumstances throw them together, and together they come up with some pretty odd ideas to scam money out of their fellow Swedes. The book is a good long poke at organised religion, which manages to deliver a few smiles and the occasional raised eyebrow along the way, but if I had to sum it up in one word, then I’d probably go for ‘likeable’.

Hitman Anders showed great promise in the early chapters, but it lost its way a little bit towards the middle. It kept me reading, which is good sign because I’m happy to drop a book if I’m not enjoying it. The author delivers basic but workable characterisations and keeps things moving at a mild canter.  He does have  to resort  to the occasional ‘lookahead’ though, to keep the reader moving to the next chapter.  Yes, it works, but I always feel it’s cheating for some reason… Still, it doesn’t happen too often so I’m probably being picky.

What is odd though is that it seems quite light on suspense, given that everyone in it is a criminal or aspires to be one. I don’t think anything happened in the book that moved me to the edge of my seat, and I’m not sure it was for want of trying. It just didn’t seem to hit the mark there somehow.

The prose bounced along in a lightly poetic sort of a way, though it often repeated itself: saying the same thing a few lines on, but in slightly fewer words. It was at this point that I wondered if we were writing to hit a target. I wondered the same again when I thought I hit the end of the story (things beginning to wind down and loose ends getting tidied it up) only to have it jumpstart and surge on. This wasn’t too much of a problem, except when we did hit the actual, real, honest-to-God ending, it was all wrapped up a bit too quickly for my liking.

Right, that’s a lot of complaints, but I did keep reading and I did finish the book, and that’s because I genuinely wanted to know what became of the millionaire’s grandson, the athiest priest and the boozy old hitman. The characters were charming without being too violent and the book, on the whole, raised a few smiles.

Definitely likeable, but it didn’t really hit the spot, not for me anyway.

A respectable(ish) five out ten.


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