After reading three different genres those that I’m used to, for my fourth book of 2016 I returned to familiar territory – and boy do I mean familiar.
My job means I’m pretty lucky and I get to read books months, sometimes years, before they are officially published.
Sometimes, this means I spot a really good book months before anyone else talks about it, sometimes it means that suddenly everyone is talking about a book that I’ve shamefully had on my to-read pile for six months.
But occasionally, it means I get early access to the next book from an author I’ve enjoyed before.
Jonas Jonasson (he who wrote The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared) has a new book coming in April of this year – Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All.
When it comes to writing reviews, I struggle to remain impartial. Just because I liked a book doesn’t mean everyone else will, and just because I don’t like a book doesn’t mean others won’t. I try not to sit on the fence, but if I find myself about to write ‘the sort of people that enjoy this sort of book, will enjoy this book’ then I know that I’m not giving an honest review. Usually it means I hated it.
However, never has the phrase been more relevant than here.
Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All tells the story of Per Persson, the receptionist at a hotel and a disillusioned priest he meets while out on lunch one day. The story follows them as they manipulate the eponymous Hitman Anders into making them millions of kronor.
What follows is the typical Jonas Jonasson type adventure, incredible strokes of luck and chance forcing the characters along a journey that they seem to be passive participants in, all told in a lackadaisical narrative.
It’s more of the same – which is great for those that have enjoyed Jonasson before. But if you didn’t like him before you’re not going to like it this time around.
And if you did like it before, you may not even like it this time. The lead characters in this are unlikeable, and not just because they’re villains. The characters in Hundred Year old Man and it’s follow up The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden were hardly all angels themselves, but they had heart.
There was a spark of humanity that shone through the apathetic narrative that made you care about them. There was a sense of epic-ness in the story that made you feel their actions were having a huge effect on the outside world.
That doesn’t necessarily happen in Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All and so because the narrative is so laconic it’s hard to engage with these characters.
Perhaps what was so frustrating was that for a book that so concentrated on divvying up money, and one with a main character called Per Persson – there wasn’t a ‘per person’ joke in sight. Maybe it’s just a joke that is obvious thanks to the translation.
Still, I enjoyed it, perhaps not to the extent I enjoyed his other books, but it has to be said:
If you enjoy this sort of book, this is the sort of book you’ll enjoy. And if you like this, check out The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden – they’re far superior.
Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All is enjoyable enough but fall shorts of it’s predecessors. It earns 2.8 out of 5