When you are ineluctably and unarguably the reigning king of Scandinavian crime fiction – as the charismatic Jo Nesbo is – with even your nearest rivals circling like asteroids around a Jupiter-sized planet, can you afford to rest on your laurels?
In Nesbo's case, the answer is probably yes – and some might think that the concise, fast-moving standalones that the author is currently producing might be considered relatively lightweight entertainments when set against the massive, socially committed novels featuring his Norwegian sleuth Harry Hole.
But even a cursory examination of the new one, Midnight Sun, shows that this is simply not the case. Nesbo was in fact the first of the Nordic noir authors whose name was used as a commercial ploy in the advertising in films of his work (Jo Nesbo's Headhunters, for instance), and his non-Harry Hole books – such as this latest entry – may be slim, but their aim is focused: to deliver the kind of kinetic excitement that the writer Donald Westlake achieved in the novels he wrote as Richard Stark (also featuring a criminal antihero).
Midnight Sun follows the earlier Blood on Snow with a kindred plot: a maverick hit man flees from a sinister associate he has crossed. Jon is on the run from his former Oslo crime boss, “The Fishman”, who shows no mercy towards those who have betrayed him. Leaving Oslo, John tries to bury himself in an isolated part of Norway, one of those “midnight sun” locales where the light always has a curious quality (Nesbo never forgets to add these important picturesque details).