Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Midnight Sun (Blood on Snow, #2)Midnight Sun by Jo Nesbø
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

"I had to push the barrel of the rifle so deep into my throat that I almost puked [...] Suicide. The first time is the most difficult."
(my own translation of the Polish translation of Norwegian original)

I picked Jo Nesbø's Midnight Sun (2015, the Norwegian title is Mere blod) in hope that in the new series - the Olav Johansen novels - Mr. Nesbø will get away from the degraded quality of the later Harry Hole plots (see for example my review of Phantom . Nesbø is the author of some really good novels, for instance, The Redbreast is a solid four-star book, but quantity seems to have permanently vanquished quality in his work. Alas, despite a relatively interesting beginning, this novel again devolves into completely ridiculous mess.

Jon is on the run from the infamous Fisherman, an Oslo drug-trade boss for whom he has worked as an enforcer. He seeks to hide in Finnmark, the remote northeastern part of Norway, beyond the Arctic Circle. It is the land of summer midnight sun, inhabited by indigenous Sami people, many of whom are followers of Laestadianism, a conservative Lutheran movement. Jon meets a young woman, the daughter of one of the elders in the sect. She has just lost her husband and since it had not been a particularly happy marriage and since her son idolizes Jon she is not averse to spending time with him. Alas the Fisherman's people are in pursuit and soon they discover Jon's hideaway.

While the passages about life among the Laestadians, the culture of the Sami people, the nature north of the Arctic Circle are engrossing - I wish there was much more of the good stuff - the mystery plot deteriorates from moderately interesting, to quite silly, and then to outright absurd. When reviewing Phantom I was ridiculing the scene where Harry cuts the throat of someone who is cutting his throat. Mr. Nesbø achieved the impossible in Midnight Sun: he wrote a scene so utterly preposterous that he must either be making fun of his readers or holding their intellect in low regard. Not only is the scene ridiculous, it also caters to amateurs of death porn: the reader quite literally visits a decaying corpse and witnesses the little critters' feeding activity.

In the ending the author attempts to wrap up the story so that the plot holes are not too obvious and that the implausible yet somehow obligatory happy ending can be reached. Yuck! Still, to be honest, Mr. Nesbø's prose reads competent (in Polish translation anyway) and I enjoyed reading about the land beyond the Arctic Circle. The "romantic" thread is not that bad either, if a bit tepid. So the novel is not a complete failure.

One and three quarter stars.

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