Tuesday, June 6, 2017

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The Father

Sean Mallory reviews a true life story by "Anton Svensson."

I was given this book by my better half as a gift, I can’t remember if it was for Christmas or what, and when I saw it the first thing that came in to my head was: ‘God, one of AM's books!’

Only this book was by an author with an easily pronounceable Scandinavian name. As it turns out on reading the blurbs of the book it is a collaboration of works by Anders Roslund and Stefan Thunberg, both also with equally easily pronounceable names. The omens were looking good! Both writers are well known in their own respective fields. Roslund, for investigative journalism and Thunberg for screen writing, particularly his connection with the original Scandinavian Wallander. Anton Svensson being a pseudonym for both writers. The oddity of the book is that it is based on the real life story of Thunberg's family. 

The story centres on a dysfunctional family, mother, father and three boys, living in a high rise tower block. A block of the kind that is mostly associated with European ‘white trailer trash’ residences. The father, an immigrant, alcohol dependent and mentally and physically abusive, dominates the boys childhood with his warped ideological take on the concept of ‘the family’ and based no doubt on his own past experiences with his own father. The mother, native and much more intelligent, is ever so slightly disconnected from the reality of their precarious and potentially violent position.

The book fluctuates from ‘now’ to ‘then’ and recounts the events in the families early life that would go on to influence the boys becoming the most notorious bank robbers in Sweden's history.

Leo, the oldest with his friend Jasper, guides his two brothers, Felix and Vincent, and girlfriend Anneli on a two year heist. The audacity of their robberies and the continuing lack of evidence thwarts the police in their investigation. Their notoriety soon eclipses their intentions and they become known in the media as the Military League for the way they execute their robberies.

A name that implies solidarity among the gang but unknown to the police the reality is the slow disintegration of the gang through clashing egos. Dysfunctionality in family and in gang that eventually leads to their dissolution.

A more inverted reversal modern take on the James / Younger gang. Like them, the books and the films about James and the Youngers, the constant theme of crime doesn’t pay runs through this book and heavily supported with the Mounty slogan ‘Always gets their man’.

An enjoyable read but slightly disappointing as I was hoping for a better or different ending than the usual crime doesn’t pay. I suppose that's the old romantic rebel blood in me but really when I think about it, what other ending could there have been?

Anton Svensson, 2015. The Father. Publisher: Sphere Books. ASIN: B0182Q99MS