Midnight Sunby Jo Nesbo
The internationally acclaimed author of Blood on Snow and the Harry Hole novels now gives us the tightly wound tale of a man running from retribution, a renegade hitman who goes to ground far above the Arctic circle, where the never-setting sun might slowly drive a man insane.
He calls himself Ulf—as good a name as any, he thinks—and the only thing he’s looking for is a place where he won’t be found by Oslo’s most notorious drug lord: the Fisherman. He was once the Fisherman’s fixer, but after betraying him, Ulf is now the one his former boss needs fixed—which may not be a problem for a man whose criminal reach is boundless. When Ulf gets off the bus in Kåsund, on Norway’s far northeastern border, he sees a “flat, monotonous, bleak landscape . . . the perfect hiding place. Hopefully.”
The locals—native Sami and followers of a particularly harsh Swedish version of Christianity—seem to accept Ulf’s explanation that he’s come to hunt, even if he has no gun and the season has yet to start. And a bereaved, taciturn woman and her curious, talkative young son supply him with food, the use of a cabin deep in the woods, a weapon—and companionship that stirs something in him he thought was long dead.
But the agonizing wait for the inevitable moment when the Fisherman’s henchmen will show—the midnight sun hanging in the sky like an unblinking, all-revealing eye—forces him to question if redemption is at all possible or if, as he’s always believed, “hope is a real bastard.”
From the Hardcover edition.
Jon, the narrator of this excellent standalone from Edgar-finalist Nesbø, is a “fixer,” or hit man, akin to the hero of 2015’s Blood on Snow. Jon, who has done jobs for an Oslo crime boss known as the Fisherman, has fled the city for Kåsund, a tiny village in the far north populated by Sami (Lapps) and dominated by a very strict religious ethos. Taking refuge in a church, he tells the townspeople he meets that his name is Ulf. A stranger in a strange land, Ulf slowly reveals what led him to leave Oslo: a failed hit and a theft that has Johnny Moe, the Fisherman’s henchman, after him. Ulf is a bad boy with a heart of gold; he got into trouble because he was trying to help someone close to him. His self-mocking deprecations are endearing: “Not that I’m an irresponsible or careless person; I’ve just got really bad judgment.” Immaculately plotted and perfectly paced, the book is also darkly funny and deadly serious. Scandinavian gloom notwithstanding, it has a neatly satisfying and surprisingly moving ending. Agent: Niclas Salomonsson, Salomonsson Agency (Sweden). (Feb.)
Nesbø quickly follows up his stand-alone novel Blood on Snow with a second short book in this new series. Jon is on the run from his boss, a powerful crime lord called the Fisherman, not only because he faked killing a man who stole from the Fisherman but also, albeit for an altruistic purpose, he took the money the supposed dead man had stolen. Now calling himself Ulf, Jon flees north to Norway's isolated and underpopulated Arctic Circle, where time seems to have stopped. Desperate for a place to hide, he accepts help from the quirky citizens, first from a nine-year-old boy and his mother, then a local shopkeeper. In perpetual fear of being caught by the Fisherman's henchmen, Ulf soon worries about the lives of those who are aiding him. VERDICT Nesbø delivers a tale of hope and redemption in this brief story of a man who blunders into a life of crime and then tries to extricate himself with a minimum of damage to those around him. Although this is unlike the author's gritty "Harry Hole" stories, it is wholeheartedly recommended for Nesbø fans and readers who enjoy strong character development. [See Prepub Alert, 8/17/15.]—Deb West, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA
The world's worst hit man goes aground in a little Norwegian town far above the Arctic Circle in this sharp, spare, postcard-sized tale. Entry-level drug dealer Jon Hansen never wanted to kill anybody—his trigger finger refuses to do the job every time he's called on to shoot—and that's probably why he never did. Even though his shadowy boss, the Fisherman, the drug king of Norway, knows he killed Toralf Jonsen over an unpaid debt, the big boss is wrong; Jon only loaned his childhood friend the gun he ended up using to shoot himself. So when the Fisherman, who was also Toralf's employer, asks Jon to kill Gustavo King, another underling who owes him big-time, he's taking more of a chance than he thinks. Jon can't shoot Gustavo, and he's relieved when Gustavo offers to pay him and disappear. Things can't possibly go as smoothly as that, of course, and they don't. The Fisherman gets wind of his quarry's escape and sends Jon's replacement, the far more capable assassin Johnny Moe, first after Gustavo, then after Jon. Will Jon be able to stay hidden in the tiny hunting cabin he's occupied outside the hamlet of Kåsund, which is so intimate that even 10-year-old Knut Sara knows he's a rotten shot? And if Johnny tracks him down to his frigid lair, will the locals who've come to know him—especially Knut's mother, recently widowed Lea Sara, and her father, a stern evangelical pastor, come together to protect him more successfully than he protected Gustavo? Wasting not a word, Nesbø (Blood on Snow, 2015, etc.) paints an indelible portrait of a criminal loser who reflects when he's faced with the supreme threat to his existence that "it was actually hard to think of anyone who was more dispensable than me."
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.10(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Meet the Author
Jo Nesbø’s books have been translated into forty-seven languages. He is the author of the Harry Hole series, as well as Headhunters, The Son, Blood on Snow, Midnight Sun, and several children’s books. He has received the Glass Key Award for best Nordic crime novel. He is also a musician, songwriter, and economist and lives in Oslo.
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I do love the Harry Hole novels, and this has that flavor, while staying under 180 pages. Not quite so enthralling but a really good read none the less. Well worth the couple hours..
Quite a tale sorry it ended so soon
Midnight Sun opens on bleakness, and the mood does not change too drastically from the opening page. Jon Hansen has left Oslo and arrived in the Arctic Circle in an attempt to hide from the Fisherman. Jon, now calling himself Ulf, meets several people in his quest to hide: Lea and her son, Knut, and Mattis. These three people help Ulf in his quest to find peace and happiness. The story unfolds slowly about Ulf's life and his errors, but we also meet Lea, a woman who accepts the decision of her father even though she aches for a better life. I can see this book as a movie done in black and white, but an ending in color.