Midnight Sun

Written by Jo Nesbo

Review written by Bob Cartwright

Midnight Sun
Harvill Secker
RRP: £9.99
Released: November 5, 2015

Second in what might become known as the Fisherman series, Midnight Sun takes us back again to the late 1970 drug scene in Oslo. The Fisherman is now the sole boss of the drugs market having wiped out his rival Hoffman. In case you are not aware the Fisherman operates out of the back room of his wet fish shop. Yes, you are probably right in thinking, “Only in Oslo, and only in Nesbo”.

Like Olav in Blood on Snow our new hero, Jon or Ulf, depending on who wants to know, is a fixer or what you and I might call a killer. Again, like Olav, there is a strong humanitarian centre in Jon. He becomes a drug dealer in his own right to raise money for his daughter Anna who needs an operation to reverse her leukaemia. He becomes known to the Fisherman when he apparently kills his best friend for getting too far behind in his payments.

The Fisherman admires the way Jon made the murder look like suicide. Of course, Jon is loath to admit that his friend really did kill himself. So Jon agrees to work for the Fisherman on the basis that he will be able to raise the money he needs all that quicker. His problems begin when he discovers he can earn more betraying his boss than killing for him. 

Ordered to off one of the Fisherman’s dealers for  skimming too much off the top,  Jon instead lets him go in return for half  his drugs and his take, and the promise that he will disappear forever. Sadly for Jon the other guy is found living it up in Brazil. Jon too goes on the run and finds his way to the northern wastes of Norway where lying low is the hope, and living it up is not an option.

But his new life is not all bad. He is befriended by the beautiful Lea and her young son Knut and takes refuge in a cabin owned by Lea on the edge of the forests above the town.  Armed with a rifle provided by Lea so he can feed himself off the local wildlife, Jon (or Ulf as he is known to the locals) prepares for the day when the Fisherman’s assassins will come for him.

In the meantime he becomes increasingly involved with Lea, a situation problematic for several reasons. She is married to a fisherman, with strong family links in the town, who is missing believed lost at sea. She is also the daughter of the local pastor and leader of a strict religious sect which sees everything beyond their immediate world as a hotbed of sin and depravity.

While Jon and Lea wrestle with their feelings the Fisherman’s emissary duly appears asking questions, followed shortly by the full shooting party.  Anything more of the story will inevitably become a spoiler, so that’s all you are getting from me. As you can imagine Midnight Sun is something of a pastoral symphony far apart from the exciting metropolis of the Harry Hole series. For all that, it is a tale full or wonderful ironies and one particularly noir episode to rival the shithouse scene from Headhunters. So while you wait on the delivery of the next Harry Hole, Midnight Sun will provide a light and quite entertaining diversion.

Bob Cartwright



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