Sweet Sweet Revenge Limited by Jonas Jonasson

I’ll tell you what, I’ve been round the houses looking for a book I could settle on; I’ve dumped the last three I’ve started, but I don’t think the problem was the books (so I won’t say what they were: I think I was in the mood for something a bit more fun, a bit more lightweight … and then Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd. popped up in the book feed.

What I like about Jonasson’s writing is that he manages to weave a deceptively simple plot (I don’t think I’ll be giving too much away by telling you it’s centred around revenge), some pretty unsavoury but strangely endearing antagonists (remember Hitman Sanders …?), and some fairly ordinary protagonists. The prose flows well, with no bumps or sharp edges; but plenty of humour, some of it gruesome, most of it just really fun.

The appeal of the book for me was that I could enjoy the book without expending too much brainpower; the author takes out much of the hard decision-making, but does it in a way that doesn’t patronise. To begin with, the villain, Victor, is a racist, misogynist, homophobe, thief, swindler and would-be murderer … and we learn all of this in the first ten pages, so we dislike him pretty much straight away. He does have occasional flashes of mercy, so he is very much a standout character in a book that focuses more on the adventure than the people.

But that’s not to say that characterisations have been thrown out the window; to keep things moving, Jonasson writes a warm-up chapter for each character, which would probably skate very close to an info dump, if not for the skill of the writer and the translator.

From there, it breezes along in a light-hearted sort of a way; plenty of laughs, and nothing that anyone is going to get upset about. The humour is deadpan, the scene-setting is workmanlike without being overdone (it’s not that kind of book) and at no point do you get the feeling that the good guys are going to live happily ever after, and the bad guy isn’t going to get his comeuppance … even if this all happens by coincidence.

The only real problem is that the last … say … quarter of the book gets a bit administrative, before picking up again towards the end, where, as I said, it all finishes happily.

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