The Other Son by Alexander Söderberg – Book Review

The Other Son by Alexander Söderberg – Book Cover

Sophie Brinkmann enters a criminal organization as an outsider (see: The Andalucian Friend). This profession is better learned from the ground up because if you just dive into it like Pilate into the Creed, you might end up making a professional mistake. Which could result in getting shot a few times.

So, an Other Son? Moreover, a stepchild?? He’s missing from her life like a hump on her back!

But let’s hear the good news instead: Alexander Söderberg’s second installment in the series is much more action-packed than the first. First off, it lacks that somewhat dull exposition. Then, what’s good about it is that the story is entirely unpredictable; you never know which direction the plot will take. And listen, in The Other Son, you might even find yourself genuinely rooting for a character. Or more than one.

The recipe for the second volume is familiar from the previous installment: two separate groups, two separate stories, the adventures of Sophie and Hector, who is just emerging from a karmacoma (see Karmacoma on YouTube), and the police investigation, which only converge at the end of the book. And speaking of police investigation: unfortunately, the same disappointing storytelling element enters here as in the first volume: the dirty cop effect; only while it was somewhat believable there, here, it starts to approach incredibility, as the slowly going completely crazy Big Chief Tommy would be much better off laying low, because this way nobody would tie him to the crimes of the previous part.

And how did this happen?

Well, there was a need for a villain, and there you go. Of course, it could also be explained by Alexander Söderberg’s love for creating messed-up characters, especially those in law enforcement (just remember the drug-addicted sociopath and his colleagues from the prequel). In Miles’ case, you can’t quite decide what the heck he’s doing in the story; his self-discovery and romance are entirely unnecessary from the perspective of the big picture, but nevertheless, these are perhaps the most noteworthy parts of the book. And the joint investigation with his colleague didn’t turn out bad either, even though you’d initially think it would fizzle out completely because they sniff around what was the main plot of the previous volume. So, you know what they’re going to figure out, but it’s still exciting to see how they keep moving forward despite all the obstacles.

However, Sophie, the well-meaning family woman sinking into the swamp of crime, has to experience the lesson behind the proverb “If you lie down with dogs, you get up torn into tiny shreds” if there is such a proverb in Sweden. Luckily, she also gets some help in trouble, namely from the two best characters from the first installment, Jens and our favorite Russian hitman, Mikhail. And as expected, by the end of the book, even this latter experiences some character development.

Unfortunately, though, overzealous employees can be found not only on the police force: hello, Aron, we’re looking at you disapprovingly, whose role is probably the same as Tommy’s: to somewhat forcedly and clumsily push the plot forward to the next volume (see: The Good Wolf). Because of these, this installment, while not as average as the first volume, – with more twists, more enjoyable scenes added to it, – is still much more variable in quality due to quite a few questionable moves.


The Other Son (Brinkmann Trilogy #2) by Alexander Söderberg
400 pages, Hardcover
Published in 2015 by Knopf Canada

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