Yeah, you already know that I like Jonasson’s work, and I think Kuhn does a good job, as far as I can tell through my rough German, of nailing the tone (lively and wry, deadpan in all the right places).
I don’t want to say too much about the plot, both because the crazy unfolding of his plots is a key part of the Reading Jonas Jonasson experience, and because describing a Jonasson plot is like trying to map a country 1:1 – I’d just be reciting the full book. Suffice it to say that it concerns hotel receptionist Per Persson, disillusioned pastor Johanna Kjellander and their dodgy moneymaking schemes involving killer-for-hire Mörder Anders (Anders the killer), that are all upended when Mörder Anders discovers Jesus.
I have always loved a bit of comic literature, and Jonasson once again really hit the spot. I think some people can find comedic authors samey or one note (I certainly saw a few reviews complaining that once you’ve read one Jonasson you’ve read them all) but… I think that’s just how style works? Some authors are just like that, aren’t they? If you pick up a work by Neil Gaiman, you know what flavour of spooky folklore-entwined shenanigans you’re in for. If you pick up a Gillian Flynn and you know that whoever dunnit, it’s going to be full of grim American classism ruining everything. Many authors are versatile but it’s a very rare author who’s a true chameleon.
But in humour it seems to be a double-edged sword, either garnering an author fanatically loyal readers or being regarded as a fatal flaw. I wonder what the difference is? I guess some people just don’t find the same jokes funny more than once? Even the same kind of jokes.
Anyway when I find something funny I will love it to absolute death. And when I find an author funny I’ll go back to them because what I want is them. I’m in the mood for a Discworld or a Hitchhiker’s Guide or an Adrian Mole or a Jeeves and Wooster.
I enjoyed the gleefully amoral protagonists trying to swindle gangsters, the good people of Sweden and dear precious innocent ex-murderer Anders alike, I enjoyed Mörder Anders’s sermons, and there were only a few bits where I was holding onto the gist of the German for dear life, which is always a plus. Unlike Der Hundertjährige there are no dense descriptions of world politics, and the humour feels very light and mischievous, lacking some of the restrained anger at the social inequalities brought up in Die Analphabetin, adding a little fourth-wall-breaking here and there – just a touch.
And I enjoyed getting jokes in German! I’m not going to pretend that isn’t part of it. Nothing is as funny as a joke you get in another language. It makes you feel a bit clever, in a very flattering way.
And you know what, no matter how many Jonassons I read (and I have read them all now), I can still never predict where the plot’s going to go.