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Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All    by Jonas Jonasson order for
Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All
by Jonas Jonasson
Order:  USA  Can
Ecco, 2016 (2016)
Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

The Sea Point Hotel, near Stockholm, is where we first meet the three protagonists of Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All by Jonas Jonasson. Johan Andersson, better known as Hitman Anders, has been recently released from prison after several incarcerations for killing someone while under the influence of roofies and alcohol. Although he was a successful hired bone-breaker for criminal elements in the city, he was able to limit the physical damage to his victims to just what he was being paid for, i.e. breaking one or more bones. He didn't take jobs requiring him to kill, but was unable to control his temper while relaxing if he drank alcohol and took Rohypnol simultaneously and then became angry enough with someone to beat them to death.

Per Persson worked as a poorly paid receptionist in the hotel and lived in the room behind the desk. He was bitter about his grandfather's lost millions and his own resultant poverty, and was also afraid of Hitman Anders who lived rent free in one of the rooms of the hotel. One day while he was about to eat his lunch in a park, he met Johanna Kjellander, a priest who had been fired by her church because she was an atheist. Johanna deeply resented her father, who had mistreated her primarily for not being a boy who could take over the family priesthood business. She became a priest anyway, taking over his church even though she hated the job. Now that she was out of work, she talked Per into renting her a room. The two of them are drawn to each other and have much in common because of their disappointments in life.

When Johanna learns about Hitman Anders, she quickly becomes the brains behind a money-making scheme of hiring him out as the hotel's own bone-breaker. During the ensuing venture, the receptionist and the priest make suitcases full of money, paying Anders a share. All is going well for all three until disaster strikes when Anders becomes religious, partly because of the priest's frequent biblical references, and decides that it's much more blessed to give than to receive. The first two occasions when Anders gives large sums of money to people, the lucky recipients are terrified. However once the police and newspapers realize that, instead of creating havoc, the ex-convict is now giving away large sums of money to worthy causes, he becomes a celebrity.

This wildly improbable novel careens from one misadventure to the next. Stockholm's underworld citizens become enraged with Hitman Anders after he takes money from them to carry out orders to break the bones of enemies and fails to deliver. After the three flee, they figure out new ways to make and give away large sums of money, which are just as dangerous and interesting as their first endeavor. I enjoyed this imaginative romp of a book and the way our three characters carried on. In the end, evil loses and good wins, sort of, depending on your definition of good. But you, gentle reader, will have had a delightful time taking it all in.

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