“The violently burning tanker now drifted along the edge of the quay towards the center of the town. During this last journey, it set fire to all the houses along its route, a distance of 2.2 Kilometers. The wind was coming from the South-East that day, so it didn’t take more than twenty-five minutes before, literally, all of Vladivostok was ablaze….”
Best seller, by author Jonas Jonasson.
A book review by sirpeterjamesdotcom.
It pleases me no end that every now and then I pick up a book that I WILL NOT put down. The net result is that after three evenings I had gorged four hundred pages, with absolutely no literary indigestion. Quite the opposite in fact; I was left with a fun-filled warmth and satisfaction. In this state I thanked the author, Jonas, in my heart, for all the hours he had spent, preparing a great read – just for me; you too hopefully!
In essence Jonas has created a most fascinating character, Allan Karlsson. Please believe me; a character that you have never read about before, but would hope to meet someday. This character is so different to what you would expect a fearless hero to be.
Allan has no desire to take part in either political or religious dialogue and quite without any insistent approaches to defending those desires; he quietly slips away from anyone who persists in having these discussions.
The story begins with Allan, moments before he was required to appear before a group of people, to celebrate his one-hundredth birthday, slipping out of his bedroom window at the old age home. He did this for three reasons; one to get a bottle of Vodka from the community supply shop and secondly to escape the clutches of a tyrant director at the old age home. Thirdly, when you read Allan’s story, you will equate his circumstance in the old age home to that of an eagle trapped in a cage at your local zoo (no criticism intended for the much needed work performed by these establishments).
I love this story so much, that I’m tempted to share it with you – in detail!
But I won’t rob you of the reading experience.
What you must know is that at the point of Alan’s escape, you get taken on a fast moving, edge of chair experience. You will be gripped with excitement and howl with laughter in almost every chapter.
The author, Jonas, very cleverly weaves us though Allan’s background and this, all the way through the years of the 1920’s to 2005. In other words, whilst you are part of Allan’s escape route in 2005, with each chapter you are transported back a decade or so, in order that you can understand what makes this most remarkable character so fascinating.
One moment you are running with the centenarian as he variously is avoiding a criminal element and the police, who want an explanation for an alleged murder and the next chapter taking you back several years into Allan’s past.
Allan’s journey takes you though counties like Sweden, Russia, Indonesia, South and North Korea, China, France. He introduces you to people like Winston Churchill, Roosevelt, Truman, Nixon, De Gaulle, Stalin, Maotse Tung, Kim Jong Il; all of whom he not only meets but also interacts with, personally. Whilst this is all fictional, you can’t help but let it flow into your conscientious reality.
Outside of the famous characters, you meet five of Allan’s close personal group.
A group that has been brought together by, some might call ‘fate’; I call synchronicity. Fleeing the terror of angry merciless gangsters and the police, this most unlikely collection of people, forms a very close bond.
Important to mention here, among the group, was a fugitive elephant, called Sonja…..just to increase your curiosity!
Finally, I am an absolute sucker for stories that end ‘happily ever after’ and uncommon as it is today – this one does.
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