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Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All

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He is the author of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden and Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All. I had bigger expectations reading the summary in the back cover and even though it had its good moments in the whole I didn't find it satisfactory! For me, it is the weakest of Jonasson's novels so far, owing mostly to a third act that grinds the action to a halt, before rushing somewhat unexpectedly to its ending. Among the early signs was Per describing Johanna as the strangest woman he’d ever met: a way of saying to the reader, “No, it’s not just you”.

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. This is very much in the vein of the other Jonasson books that I have read (100 year old man, girl who saved the king of Sweden) and was a bit samey. As wildly funny and unexpected as The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, this is a madcap, feel-good adventure about belief, the media – and the fact that it’s never too late to start again.

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden was less successful in its attempts to be inventive, but I found it entertaining enough. It's not a heavyweight book by any means, but it was a nice way to while away a few cold evenings here in this goddamn THIRD pandemic winter.

Of course it is the characters that carry the story as we move from one highly unlikely situation to another. 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.Focusing more on hotel receptionist Per Persson and shamed priest Johanna Kjellerman than the titular Hitman, Jonasson chronicles their first encounter when the priest tries to rip off Persson, and it all goes downhill from there. Hitman Anders is fresh out of prison and trying to keep his head down when he meets a female Protestant vicar (who happens to be an atheist), and a receptionist at a one star hotel (who happens to be currently homeless). However, towards the end of the story, I found it a little difficult to follow all the characters as there were too many gangsters. 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. Anders' sudden interest in religion might be good for his soul but it's not good for business, and the vicar and the receptionist have to find a new plan, quick.

All in all, if you want to read a novel that doesn't take too much effort and, in a diverse way (considering the subject matter), does have a feel-good factor rather like watching a farce on television or in the theatre, then give this a go. Hitman Anders may not have lived up to the author’s previous books (and it was strange to preview it in March when Jonasson was otherwise a summer read for me. 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. 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. The basic premise is that Hitman Anders isn’t a very focused hitman, so Per and Johanna cook up a business where they market Anders’s services and manage the requests for retribution, while Hitman Anders fulfills the requests.Seriously, the plot just doesn't make any sense and the religious elements really started to get on my nerves. As wildly funny and unexpected as The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, this is a madcap, feel-good adventure about belief, the media - and the fact that it's never too late to start again. When Anders gets Christianity, he says “Hosanna” a lot without knowing what it means – that’s the “comedy” by the way. not that it's impossible to be named Per Persson or, for that matter, Jonas Jonasson, but some might find it monotonous" - and a brief summary of the life and misfortunes of our titular Hitman, Johan Andersson.

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