Victor Alderheim has a lot to answer for. Not only has he heartlessly tricked his young ex-wife, Jenny, out of her art gallery inheritance, but he has also abandoned his son, Kevin, to die in the middle of the Kenyan Savanna.
It doesn’t occur to Victor that Kevin might be rescued and adopted by a Maasai medicine man, or that he might be expected to undergo the rituals expected of all new Maasai warriors – which have him running back to Stockholm as fast as you can say circumcision without anaesthetic.
Back in Stockholm, Kevin’s path crosses with Jenny’s – and they have an awful lot to talk about, not least a shared desire to get even with Victor. So it’s convenient when they run into a man selling revenge services, who has an ingenious idea involving Victor’s cellar, a goat, some forged paintings, four large boxes of sex toys, and a kilo of flour…
I discovered Jonas Jonasson’s books because the bookstore I’d frequent seemed to have the 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared permanently on display. This was in 2017. One day I finally turned it over to read the blurb and decided to buy it. As I was getting ready to pay, the store owner, whom I’ve known since I was a little girl, put down two more books by the author on the counter and tapped on them, smiling all this while. I looked up and, because his recommendations have never let me down, told him to add it to my purchase. That was one of my best decisions in new author discovery because I’m now an avid fan of Jonasson’s writing.
“One hundred out of one hundred people were victims, now and then, of a wrong. Fifty out of one hundred wished to do wrong in return. Ten of those could afford to pay for it. If only one of these ten made it official, then Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd had future prospects practically brighter than one could calculate.”
The lives of two men – Ole Mbatian and Victor – living over ten thousand kilometers apart, one in a valley in Maasai Mara and the other in a suburb in Stockholm, get entwined in the strangest way possible. And this life changing connection comes about through the profit seeking pursuits of Hugo Hamlin who just happens to be in the business of extracting revenge on his clients’ behalf.
One the surface, you might think there isn’t any plot to this novel; just a whole lot of improbable events happening one after the other. However, it is with his persuasive storytelling that the author helps you connect the dots to see the big picture.
“Hugo met the former tenant at the contract signing; she was a sad old woman in her seventies. When she saw the name of Hugo’s company she expressed interest in becoming his first customer. ‘That’s fine,’ said Hugo. ‘What is it you’re looking for, ma’am?’ She didn’t quite know. But perhaps her revenge could consist of turning off all the internets that had destroyed both her own life and those of all the poor little children?”
I love the whacky characters and the absurdity of the situations they find themselves in. It wouldn’t do to even try making sense of what is happening. Instead, one has to simply go with the flow in the belief that all of it, as ludicrous as it sounds, is happening with real people, in an extraordinarily imaginative world of fiction.
The author’s genius creativity in pulling this together shows in his use of satire and absolute deadpan humour which may not necessarily make you roll with laughter but is effectively entertaining.
“Ole Mbatian shook his head. Said was said. Sold was sold. Anyway, who was going to herd two thousand cows all the way home from Sweden? Poor cows, by the way, in this weather. Put some gloves on their hooves, at least.”
I always expect something outrageous from Jonas Jonasson and once again he exceeds my expectations. Outrageously wild and phenomenally fabulous, this is as outlandish as it gets. Add this to your Best Anytime Reads!
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