Cover image of "Midnight Sun," a novel about murder above the Arctic Circle

Nineteen seventy-eight. Finnmark, north of the Arctic Circle, where Norway shares a border with Finland and the Soviet Union. Where “[e]ven the greenery of summer held a promise of harder, colder times that would try to pull you down, and which would win in the end.”

Arriving by bus to hide out, a drug dealer and hit man has fled the wrath of the Oslo drug lord known as The Fisherman. He calls himself Ulf, though that’s not his name. Ulf has arrived in an out-of-the-way village populated by indigenous local people known as the Sami. There he stumbles upon a young woman who invites him to hole up in her husband’s hunting cabin and loans him a rifle and ammunition. Her precocious ten-year-old son shows him the way. We suspect that the hit man and the young Sami woman are attracted to each other, but there’s no hint of that in her manner.

Midnight Sun is at once a murder mystery of sorts, a meditation on faith, and a travelogue. In flashbacks interspersed with passages describing Ulf’s stay in the village, we learn the backstory. His life selling hash, his work as a hit man, his relationship with The Fisherman. Gradually, we come to understand exactly why Ulf has fled Oslo, and why he is in danger from men who will surely be sent to murder him on The Fisherman’s behalf.

Ulf’s encounter with the unique fundamentalist sect that dominates the Sami community takes center stage in the story. His benefactor is the daughter of the local preacher, a fearsome man who instills the fear of fire and brimstone in everyone around him. Ulf’s own atheism is put to the test.

Midnight Sun by Jo Nesbo ★★★★★

About the author

Jo Nesbo‘s ten novels about the troubled Oslo policeman Harry Hole have elevated him into the first rank of crime writers worldwide. He is less known outside Norway for the other twelve novels he has written, as a vocalist and songwriter for a popular local rock band, or for his former career as a soccer player for one of the country’s principal football clubs.

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