Book Review – Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All, by Jonas Jonasson

Over Easter, me and the boyfriend went to visit his family and friends in England. Lovely little holiday that was. Lots of yummy food, wonderful company, a lot of playtime with the pets, and time to read my book! I started reading at the airport, and finished the book yesterday evening when we got home. It’s been a while since I’ve breezed through a book like that, and I loved it!

I’m a big Jonas Jonasson fan, I’ve read all his books so far. The first one was the international best-seller The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, which I stumbled upon in a camp site in Australia. I used to do a lot of bookswapping while backpacking, and I’ve read all sorts of stuff I usually wouldn’t look at in any bookshop or library, but when bookswapping, you can simply not be picky. And once in a while, you stumble upon a treasure, like the 100-year-old man. Hi-La-Ri-Ous. Absolutely the funniest book I’ve ever read. The main character goes on a journey of some sorts, meets new friends and enemies, and gets into a lot of trouble that he somehow manages to get out of every single time by some kind of deus ex machina.


His other books, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, and the one about Hitman Anders that I’ve just finished, have a similar kind of story line without being a repetition of each other. Some of the characters have a fair bit of things in common, like the fact that most of them have not had the best childhood or ancestry. Or the thin line between right and wrong his characters generally are on the wrong side off, while at the same time still getting the reader’s sympathy, simply because they do not seem to know any better. Also, all his books have the same hilarious level of highly ironic and over the top. And still, Jonasson keeps coming up with inventive ways to make his characters go through some pretty crazy stuff!


Let me quickly run you through the story of Hitman Anders, no spoilers. Jonasson’s newest book tells you the story of an unfortunate young man who happens to find himself stuck in life, being the receptionist in a shabby little hotel with guests like the rather dangerous sounding Hitman Anders. Life throws a lot of random things his way, and before you know it he is running a lucrative business with a former priest and the aforementioned hitman. Of course, it doesn’t take long before it all goes tits-up, as it is quite clear that not everyone is on their side. But nevertheless, the receptionist, priest, and hitman change plans as easily as their socks, and in such a way that you could never imagine how their story will end.


For me, the best part about Jonasson’s novels, including this one, is the absolute randomness. Really anything could happen to anyone, and it does. Also, Jonasson has a really fun way to introduce new characters, no matter how vital or minor they are to the story. Every new character gets introduced with a short summary of their (generally quite awful) life before, and how this lead them to end up in the story.

Also wonderful is the language Jonasson uses. The complexity of his sentences stands in sheer contrast with the simplicity of his characters (who are never really smart, on either emotional or intellectual level, or even both), which adds a hilarious layer of irony to the story that works so well.

His books are an absolute joy to read, very entertaining. And even though he has a very clear style and ideas that return in all his novels, the stories still surprise and entertain you. And they are definitely a good laugh!