Comedy, metaphysics and a suitcase full of cash

I have just read the final (I hope not) Jonas Jonasson book Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it all. I have been a fan of Jonas Jonasson ever since I happened upon his debut The One Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared.

Never before had I read a tag line as the actual title of the book. Must have been quite the annoyance to those tasked with updating bibliographic and retail databases. But it served ‘what it says on the tin’ logic perfectly.

Having now read all the way to the (current) end of Mr Jonasson’s works I can see that his formula is a very successful one with common themes: redemption in the face of nihilistic pointlessness, persistence with the absurd in the face of logic, and … a McGuffin.

A McGuffin is an object in a film or book which serves as a plot trigger. Whilst central to the story, each of Jonasson’s McGuffins: a suitcase full of cash, a stash of plutonium, or an entire nuclear bomb, kept his meandering comedic every(wo)man anti-heroes stumbling or actively questing toward their respective goals.

There is a little-known law in literature that in horror, the main character gets what they deserve, but in comedy, the main character gets what they need. One of the cool things about Jonas Jonasson is that he absolutely ignored that rule and it all worked out fine in the end.

Hitman Anders is sick of being a hitman. But unfortunately he is quite good at it.

Johanna Kjellander, a disgraced priest, is the fallen angle to Hitman Anders redeeming devil.

And the unfortunately named Per Persson (subject of a very cheeky fourth wall break) is the receptionist at the grotty hotel where they all meet. He spends the book mostly wondering what the heck is going on.

Jonasson’s writing is all the more lovely for the idiosyncrasies it retains from its translation from Swedish to English. The characters are well rounded and the action never settles in one spot for too long. A very enjoyable read and a small pill to remedy the gloom of our current times.

I hope you enjoy Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All.

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