The world’s worst hit man goes aground in a little Norwegian town far above the Arctic Circle in this sharp, spare, postcard-sized tale.
Entry-level drug dealer Jon Hansen never wanted to kill anybody—his trigger finger refuses to do the job every time he’s called on to shoot—and that’s probably why he never did. Even though his shadowy boss, the Fisherman, the drug king of Norway, knows he killed Toralf Jonsen over an unpaid debt, the big boss is wrong; Jon only loaned his childhood friend the gun he ended up using to shoot himself. So when the Fisherman, who was also Toralf’s employer, asks Jon to kill Gustavo King, another underling who owes him big-time, he’s taking more of a chance than he thinks. Jon can’t shoot Gustavo, and he’s relieved when Gustavo offers to pay him and disappear. Things can’t possibly go as smoothly as that, of course, and they don’t. The Fisherman gets wind of his quarry’s escape and sends Jon’s replacement, the far more capable assassin Johnny Moe, first after Gustavo, then after Jon. Will Jon be able to stay hidden in the tiny hunting cabin he’s occupied outside the hamlet of Kåsund, which is so intimate that even 10-year-old Knut Sara knows he’s a rotten shot? And if Johnny tracks him down to his frigid lair, will the locals who’ve come to know him—especially Knut’s mother, recently widowed Lea Sara, and her father, a stern evangelical pastor, come together to protect him more successfully than he protected Gustavo?
Wasting not a word, Nesbø (Blood on Snow, 2015, etc.) paints an indelible portrait of a criminal loser who reflects when he’s faced with the supreme threat to his existence that “it was actually hard to think of anyone who was more dispensable than me.”