Date finished: August 12th 2016
I’m by no means an aficionado of crime, but when I do fancy a good thriller I know two authors I can always rely on: Robert Galbraith and Jo Nesbo. Nesbo, one of the most famous practitioners of the Scandi-crime genre has had a prolific career, playing for the Norwegian national football team, a rock musician, and finally his writing career which has seen him serve up a surfeit of crime novels – most notably the Harry Hole series – as well as the kids’ series Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder.
Midnight Sun, a recent, slim volume, is a stand-alone story (though linked to previous release Blood On Snow) which sees Nesbo break away from his familiar ground and delve into deeper themes. The story begins with Jon Hansen arriving in a remote Norwegian village on the very fringes of civilisation. He’s running from both his past, and The Fisherman, a notorious gangster who he has managed to get on the wrong s
ide of. Hiding out in a hunting cabin a few miles from the village, he comes to know the townsfolk, their strange Laestadian religion, and the intimate problems of its people, including the strange marital situation of the beautiful Lea and her son Knut. Jon struggles with his faith, his past, his present and much more as The Fisherman’s men make their way ever closer…
Whilst a more meditative departure from his usual style, this short novel remains distinctly Nesbo: Punchy prose, a sudden disgusting scene without warning that leaves one with a reduced appetite, and a lot of inner turmoil. The meditations on faith are particularly interesting and Nesbo imparts a lot of wit and wisdom in the process. At times the writing and even events can fall into the realms of cliche, but on the whole, Nesbo remains entertaining and original.
Midnight Sun is a short but compelling read, worth the price of admission but not the best thriller you’ll read this year – comparable to Headhunters, but different in tone. He remains a giant in his genre, and, whilst this is by no means a bad addition to his bibliography, it fails to eclipse or even touch the giddy heights reached by the Harry Hole series that catapulted him to the top of his genre.