“For Hitman Anders, lifting the jukebox and heaving it out of the window, thus bringing the evening to an end for him and everyone else, had allowed his destructive self to take control of his extremely destructive self. It had worked. It had been expensive, but — crucially — it had allowed him to wake up in his own bed, rather than in a jail cell awaiting transport to somewhere more permanent.
“The jukebox had saved his life. Or he had saved it himself, using the jukebox as a weapon. Did this mean that the road back to prison was not as inevitable as his inner voice had started harping on about? What if there was life beyond violence, and, for that matter, life with no jukeboxes flying through the air.
“In which case — how could he find it, and where would it lead?”
– Jonas Jonasson, Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All
Fans of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden probably already knew this was coming. The great Jonas Jonasson’s new novel, Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All, has hit the shelves, and I had to grab a copy to review!
Per Persson has never had much luck, a fact he blames on his grandfather. He never seems to have more than a few coins to scrape together. At the point this story begins, he is working as a receptionist for a third-rate hotel, where he lives in a tiny room behind his desk. Johanna Kjellander is an atheist priest who has recently been kicked to the curb by the authorities and her own congregation. These two embittered characters share a mutual hatred for the world and everything in it.
When Hitman Anders — recently released from jail after a second stint for accidentally killing a man — comes to stay at the Sea Point Hotel, the receptionist and the priest hatch a brilliant plan that will change their circumstances entirely. They use Hitman Anders and his special skills to take over the Swedish underground. Everything is going wonderfully for these two misanthropists; finally their luck appears to be turning around. It couldn’t possibly go wrong. That is, until Hitman Anders begins to question why. The seemingly simple hitman suddenly begins to question the very meaning of life. Unsure of what to do, Hitman Anders turns to Jesus.
As a result, the receptionist and the priest must reconsider their plan. Suddenly their dangerous hitman is preaching generosity and goodness. Inspired by Hitman Anders’s sudden faith, the two decide that the answer is simple — they will start a church in his name. Preach the words of Jesus, and rake in the endless donations from loyal parishioners. It couldn’t possibly go wrong.
This novel is a madcap adventure from beginning to end. It’s a fast-paced, hilarious tale of three unlikely business partners who take Sweden by storm.
Every single character in this novel is morally questionably. They’re horrible in so many ways. They’re cutthroat, self-involved, and so unbelievably charming. I adored the characters of the priest and the receptionist. I rooted for each of their endless schemes, reprehensible though they were. I commiserated with them when their plans fell apart.
Jonasson’s writing is incredibly engaging. His quirky writing style is reminiscent of Lemony Snicket (whose series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, was an all time favourite of mine while growing up). From rambling explanations to hilarious asides, I never knew what to expect when I was turning the page.
If you’re looking for a realistic, factually-based story of the Swedish criminal world, well, I have nothing for you here. If you’re looking for a lighthearted, wildly funny story of one hitman and his quest for redemption (an oddly specific request, I’ll admit), then you have to check out Jonas Jonasson’s Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All!
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