Book Review

Review: Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All
Jonas Jonasson

Hitman Anders

Pages: 312
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publishing Date: April 26th 2016

Proof copy received through NetGalley

A madcap new novel from the #1 internationally bestselling author of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

Hitman Anders, recently out of prison, is doing small jobs for the big gangsters. Then his life takes an unexpected turn when he meets a female Protestant vicar (who also happens to be an atheist), and a homeless receptionist at a former brothel which is now a one-star hotel. The three join forces and concoct an unusual business plan based on Hitman Anders’ skills and his fearsome reputation. The vicar and receptionist will organize jobs for a group of gangsters, and will attract customers using the tabloids’ love of lurid headlines.

The perfect plan if it weren’t for Hitman Anders’ curiosity about the meaning of it all. In conversations with the vicar, he turns to Jesus and, against all odds, Jesus answers him! The vicar can’t believe what’s happening. When Hitman Anders turns to religion, the lucrative business is in danger, and the vicar and the receptionist have to find a new plan, quick.

Fast-paced and sparky, the novel follows these bizarre but loveable characters on their quest to create a New Church, with all of Sweden’s gangsters hunting them. Along the way, it explores the consequences of fanaticism, the sensationalist press, the entrepreneurial spirit and straightforward human stupidity and underlying all of it, the tenuous hope that it’s never too late start again.

Having recently read The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, I was looking into another foray into Jonasson’s droll and eclectic mind.

Once again this book certainly offered that and provided me with plenty of wry smiles and despairing shakes of the head.

However, it is much harder to suspend your disbelief when it comes to Jonasson’s writing when it is set in the present day. It is much easier to believe his style of writing – with one thing leading to another – when it is set in a different time period.  At times, the way that he progresses characters and events so rigidly and logically can appear more far-fetched by setting them in the present day.

The story lacked the hilarious coincidences that typified his previous books and at times felt more forced, with a bit of a rush-job on the ending. It didn’t feel as though there was any real reason for ending it there, nothing had truly been resolved, except perhaps that everyone was as reformed as they would ever be. The plot was a little too linear, and it lacked the crossover between characters and events popping up at different times in the narrative that made his previous novel stand out for me.

However, I still really enjoyed it all. It is funny, amusing, quirky with some great characters that make you despair for humanity, (although I was a little disappointed that some of them didn’t reappear later on). But it was a fun and thought-provoking read all the same.

3.5 stars

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