Saturday, 19 March 2016

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson Review

I suppose “minor spoilers ahead” but do yourself a favour and avoid this crummy novel altogether.

A dim-witted thug called Hitman Anders is taken advantage of by a receptionist and a priest as they advertise his criminal services in the papers and pocket a managerial fee. He’s sort of a PG-Hitman in that he breaks arms and legs but doesn’t kill anyone (though he has done in the past). Then one day he discovers Jesus and gives up his wicked ways. Whatever will the receptionist and the priest do for cash now? … zzz… 

Incorrectly billed as a comedy by a desperate PR department, Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All is a dreary crime caper that thinks it’s clever by making the highly original observations that, 1) Christianity is a bit of a silly religion and 2) tabloid newspapers are trash. Who. Knew. 

The novel is so very poorly plotted. Hitman Anders becomes a celebrity for breaking people’s arms and legs – really, why would the public venerate an ordinary gangster? And why aren’t the police arresting him? He’s literally advertising that he will hospitalise people for money and admitting to assault in the national papers – isn’t that evidence enough for the police to at least have a chat with him? But no, apparently the Swedish police are useless, or else grievous bodily harm isn’t a crime in Sweden. Maybe that’s the satirical element – is Jonas Jonasson saying that Swedish gangsters get away with blatant crimes? Who knows. But towards the end of the novel, Anders finally gets put away when he assaults a guy from the government – I guess that’s the line in the sand? Yeah, that’s not at all contrived. One minute it’s fine for Anders to go around breaking people’s arms and legs then suddenly, when the story needs that to change, it’s not. 

Later on, Hitman Anders, the receptionist and the priest are on the run from a group of mobsters they’ve swindled out of millions of kroner. So instead of fleeing the country and hiding, they decide to set up a church and begin advertising it with Hitman Anders’ well-known name – why?? That’s the opposite of what they should’ve done! Now the gangsters can easily find them and guess what? They do! This is such a stupid story!! 

In addition to these baffling decisions, our characters don’t seem to have any actual obstacles – things tend to work out really well for them whatever they do which doesn’t make for a very exciting read. Speaking of the characters, none are especially well-written, interesting, or remotely convincing. They’re poorly created cartoons, especially Hitman Anders, and impossible to take seriously let alone care about.

When Anders gets Christianity, he says “Hosanna” a lot without knowing what it means – that’s the “comedy” by the way. If you laughed then, you’ll love this book because it’s full of, ahem, “jokes”, like that. Maybe when Anders becomes pastor of his church Jonasson is saying organized religion is run by crooks? Never heard a sentiment like that uttered before… Criticising Christianity is so passé these days – aren’t we over this yet? I’m not religious at all and firmly believe religion does more harm than good but I’m extremely bored with people pointing and laughing at Christianity. It’s easy and it’s been done people, move on or else have something original to say about it, which Jonasson doesn’t.

This unfunny supposed satire cum crime novel has nothing clever to say about any of its chosen subjects and, far from being entertaining or amusing, is deeply irritating and boring. I’d heard good things about this author’s previous books but I was very disappointed with his latest, pitiful effort – I won’t be looking for more novels from the hacky Jonas Jonasson and his dull writing.

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All

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