Review: Midnight Sun by Jo Nesbo

Midnight SunLike Blood on Snow, Jo Nesbo’s Midnight Sun, is a pleasingly predictable, bite-sized noir novel. It lacks the moral complexity of The Son and the rich characterisation demonstrated in his long line of Harry Hole mysteries, but then, it never aspires to anything more than the sum of its parts: a stripped-down, raw and relentless story of redemption.

Dubbed a sequel to Blood on Snow, Nesbo’s latest can be read as a standalone. While the enigmatic, violent crime lord known as The Fisherman appears in both novels – more of an ethereal presence than a tangible one – Midnight Sun spotlights a new protagonist. Jon – an unlikely assassin in The Fisherman’s arsenal of thugs – has fled to a remote corner of Norway, to a mountain town so far north the sun never sets. He betrayed The Fisherman, ultimately for nothing, and will spend the rest of his life constantly looking over his shoulder. The Fisherman has an extensive reach, and an even long memory.

Jon hopes to find sanctuary in this isolated village; hopes he’ll be welcomed into the fold, and accepted as an introvert. But these townspeople are immersed in a religious sect; devout in their ways, and not entirely hospitable to strangers. With The Fishermen’s thugs closing in, Jon must rely on the kindness of a bereaved mother and her young son to survive; and live with the consequences of involving them in The Fishermen’s quest for vengeance.

Simple in premise and execution, Midnight Sun is nonetheless a sterling reminder of Nesbo’s talent. It will not go down in the pantheon of classic crime novels, but it’s riveting while it lasts, and will leave readers chomping at the bit for his next full-length epic.

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