The Son

By Jo NesbØ, translated from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund. (Alfred A. Knopf, 496 pages, $26.)

In yet another well-told Nordic thriller, writer Jo Nesbø’s latest novel, “The Son,” takes readers into the underworld of crime and police corruption in Oslo, Norway. Sonny Lofthus, a heroin addict whose late father was a cop, seems to be a likable guy, serving time in prison. But is he good or evil?

Amid his campaign of retribution on the city’s most ruthless and corrupt characters, the tale of Sonny’s life is gradually revealed. Along the way, he discovers love and an unexpected truth. It’s a bit violent, but not over the top. Fans of Scandinavian crime fiction writers like the late Stieg Larsson should enjoy this book.

David Shaffer



the madwoman in the volvo:  my YEAR OF RAGING HORMONES

By Sandra Tsing Loh (Norton, 279 pages, $25.95)

Fair warning: If you are not yet menopausal, this memoir may scare you more than amuse. But if you ever have taken the time to dry your freshly shampooed hair before stepping on the scale, then you may be laughing over every other page — between, of course, your inexplicable tears. Loh, a writer and humorist, tracks the year in which she had an affair and destroyed her marriage, cared for her failing father (but not as much as her sister did, ahem) and coped with her preteen daughters showing more midriff.

Loh does at times work a little too hard for a punch line, with one riff taking on farmers markets, Kickstarter, Michael’s craft stores, cilantro and cake pops. Oh, and Gail Sheehy’s “Passages in Caregiving.” (“Really? I mean, really?”) But she observes well, as in wondering why she becomes so unglued by “the microwave-deformed Gladware that now doesn’t quite close.”

That Gladware deforms while being nuked gets to the real issue: Life is chaotic and random enough as it is; adding the madness of menopausal hormones to the mix can’t help. She concludes with a chapter of helpful tips such as, “Don’t judge. Lower the bar,” which will get you through what is, after all, just another phase. This book is a gimme for certain book clubs — the ones that serve wine.


Staff writer