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Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All

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Featuring one violent killer, two shrewd business brains and many crates of Moldovan red wine, Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All is an outrageously zany story with as many laughs as Jonasson’s multimillion-copy bestseller T he Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. This was a really fun, funny, fast read -- even though it was nearly 400 pages, and whenever I tried to describe what I was reading, it came out sounding super dark and not funny at all.

He gave it to me and two days later there was a family member of his over whose birthday we’d forgotten (meaning my husband really, I didn’t know them that well) and he pried the book away from me, wrapped it, apologised, told me I could ask for a loan of it, apologised again and then gave it away.Because unlike most book bloggers out there, I absolutely loved Jonas Jonasson's other novel The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared and I was hoping of having a similar experience with this new book. He had inherited his moral compass from his father, the drunkard (who had abandoned his son for a bottle of cognac when the boy was two years old), and from his grandfather, the horse dealer, a man who had dosed his foals with precise amounts of arsenic from birth onwards so that they would grow used to the poison and be in tip-top shape not only on the day of sale but, in slowly declining degrees, on the days, weeks and months after that. 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.

But these are people who don’t feel they have many positive options for pulling themselves out of the mire. He is the author of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden. It’s also a commentary on faith and whether it has any sustaining purpose or whether it’s just a numbing sop to make people feel slightly better about their miserable lives. Initially unnoticed by them, Hitman Anders embarks on an existential crisis that plays out in early morning drinking and unreasonable violence towards inanimate objects. While The Hundred-Year-Old Man was interesting, fast-paced and laugh-out-loud hilarious, Hitman Anders And The Meaning Of It All was simply painful to read.This book has a very similar humor as was in The Hundred Year Old Man, but somehow the scale of it is much smaller. While it starts well, and Jonasson’s third novel is perhaps a slight improvement on the second, the formula of zany characters in absurd situations has worn rather thin. With Hitman Anders fresh out of prison and wishing to start a new life that is until he meets a female vicar and a receptionist at a 1-star hotel, between them they decided to cook up a very unusual business plan. Once I'd accepted that Jonas Jonasson was narrating the tale as would someone versed in the oral tradition of storytelling, and I got into the rhythm of it, then the novel grew on me. Jonasson’s worlds may not contain elves, but they are still fantastical and require some suspension of disbelief; Johanna required too much and was more plot device than person.

I found myself more interested in the occasional glimpses it gave of Swedish life than the hi-jinks of our criminal trio. A madcap new novel from the one-of-a-kind author of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden.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.

But, whilst Johanna and Per both crave material wealth as a substitute for emotionally nurturing parents, I’m damned if I can see what any character other than Johanna is meant to symbolise individually - and besides, that sounds a bit high-concept for a Jonasson novel.What’s more, thug-as-born-again-Christian sounds like a premise with plenty of comic potential, at least on this side of the Atlantic. e clar ca fiind pe placul meu, am numai cuvinte de laudă la adresa ei, asa ca nu voi mai zice nimic si voi lasa pe fiecare sa descopere "lumea pe înțelesul tuturor". But no, apparently the Swedish police are useless, or else grievous bodily harm isn’t a crime in Sweden.

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