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The internationally acclaimed author of Blood on Snow and the Harry Hole novels now gives us the tightly wound tale of a man running from retribution, a renegade hitman who goes to ground far above the Arctic circle, where the never-setting sun might slowly drive a man insane.

He calls himself Ulf - as good a name as any, he thinks - and the only thing he's looking for is a place where he won't be found by Oslo's most notorious drug lord: the Fisherman. He was once the Fisherman's fixer, but after betraying him, Ulf is now the one his former boss needs fixed - which may not be a problem for a man whose criminal reach is boundless. When Ulf gets off the bus in KÃ¥sund, on Norway's far northeastern border, he sees a "flat, monotonous, bleak landscape . . . the perfect hiding place. Hopefully."

The locals - native Sami and followers of a particularly harsh Swedish version of Christianity - seem to accept Ulf's explanation that he's come to hunt, even if he has no gun and the season has yet to start. And a bereaved, taciturn woman and her curious, talkative young son supply him with food, the use of a cabin deep in the woods, a weapon - and companionship that stirs something in him he thought was long dead.

But the agonizing wait for the inevitable moment when the Fisherman's henchmen will show - the midnight sun hanging in the sky like an unblinking, all-revealing eye - forces him to question if redemption is at all possible or if, as he's always believed, "hope is a real bastard."



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