Hardback by Harvill Secker, £9.99 (ebook £6.99)
Harry Hole did so much to establish Jo Nesbo as an international force in crime fiction, that he was always going to be a tough act to follow. Nesbo’s departures with Headhunters and The Son showed that he was more than just the latest Scandinavian star of the genre. But Midnight Sun lets him down.
There is something just not quite Jo Nesbo about the tale of a flawed hitman who can’t quite pull off the job he he’s lined up to do. A bit like the shooter whose trigger finger fails him, this story of on-the-run Jon leaves the reader searching for something more, just like Jon’s pursuers in the far north of Norway where the sun never sets.
Midnight Sun has its moments, including the comical use of a dead reindeer as a place to hide out from a drug dealer’s heavies. A drug dealer who lives a double life as a fishmonger. Another hitman whose appearance is more clown than killer.
Unlike the sun which never sets, this plot sinks quickly and never quite resurfaces as Jon, like Hole an anti-hero, fails to deliver as a character. Even his reason for choosing this job is something of a failure.
The only endearing line is Jon’s stop-start love affair with Lea, the central female character, and he does his best to mess that up. Perhaps in a thriller that comically fails, it is fitting that the reader is not sure if Jon succeeds until the last page.