Publisher: Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House
Publication Date: 12th November 2020
Huge thanks to Sriya Varadharajan at Michael Joseph for inviting me to take part in this book tour and for providing me with a copy of THE MIST for review. Ragnar Jonasson is one of my favourite authors and I never miss an opportunity to get my hands on his new books!
About the Book
1987. An isolated farm house in the east of Iceland.
The snowstorm should have shut everybody out. But it didn’t.
The couple should never have let him in. But they did.
An unexpected guest, a liar, a killer. Not all will survive the night. And Detective Hulda will be haunted forever . . .
Praise for The Mist
‘A world-class crime writer . . . One of the most astonishing plots of modern crime fiction’ Sunday Times
‘It is nothing less than a landmark in modern crime fiction’ The Times
‘This is Icelandic noir of the highest order, with Jonasson’s atmospheric sense of place, and his heroine’s unerring humanity shining from every page’ Daily Mail
‘Triumphant conclusion. Chilling, creepy, perceptive, almost unbearably tense’ Ian Rankin
‘This is such a tense, gripping read’ Anthony Horowitz
‘Fans of dark crime fiction that doesn’t pull punches will be amply rewarded’ Publishers Weekly
Having read the previous books in the Hidden Iceland series (The DARKNESS and THE ISLAND), I jumped at the chance to read THE MIST. This series has me completely hooked! It is particularly unique in that the series is told backwards chronologically, meaning that the tale told in this third book actually occurs before the events of the earlier two books. This may seem quite an ambitious feat, yet it works perfectly for this series.
In THE MIST, Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir returns to work after a personal tragedy, only to be called to a puzzling case in the Icelandic countryside. She isn’t ready to be back in the field and yet cannot help becoming absorbed by her latest case – two dead bodies found inside a remote farmhouse. Erla and Einar lived in the isolated farmhouse for virtually all of their married life. Einar loves life on his family farm and pride makes him determined to keep it going despite all neighbouring farms shutting down. Erla thinks that life on the farm leaves much to be desired. She finds it dull and claustrophic, missing the ease of city life. Yet she is a good wife and does not make a fuss. They are quiet, hardworking and sensible people. Why would anyone want to do them harm?
Set around Christmas 1988, the tale is well-paced and very cleverly plotted, weaving between the present police investigation, Hulda’s recent tragedy and flashbacks from the events leading up to the victims’ deaths. Jonasson gradually and masterfully weaves together these three threads, creating a chilling, suspenseful and yet surprisingly subtle tale – you almost don’t realise the tension is there until you feel your heart start to beat faster. It kept me totally gripped and I finished the book in one sitting. It really is an engrossing and immersive story. There are a number of twists and reveals to keep the reader hooked. The mystery is no so much a ‘whodunnit’ as a ‘whydunnit’.
The remote farm house makes for a very atmospheric setting. I could easily imagine the icy bleakness of an Icelandic winter, with miles of snow-covered ground between the farm and the nearest civilisation – ruggedly beautiful and yet hostile and treacherous – absolutely perfect for this tense and sinister tale. The severe weather conditions create a sense of place and provide a great prop to allow the tale to move quickly from a cosy idyllic farmhouse to a claustrophobic and isolated prison from which none of the characters can escape, a perfect closed-circle setting.
The conclusion is shocking and heartbreaking in a number of ways but nicely ties up all of the loose ends, making a very satisfying end to the series. THE MIST is a haunting tale of loss, despair and revenge.
The Hidden Iceland series is truly outstanding and THE MIST is a fantastic finale to the series. If you aren’t already familiar with Jonasson’s writing, I would strongly recommend that you give this series a go. I always prefer to read a series in order, however THE MIST also works well as a standalone novel.
I must also give a mention to the translator, Victoria Cribb, who has done a fantastic job in ensuring that Jonasson’s elegant and atmospheric writing style isn’t hidden by the translation.
About the Author
RAGNAR JÓNASSON was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he works as a writer and a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University, and has worked as a TV news reporter for Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. He is the author of the DARK ICELAND series (Snowblind, Nightblind, Blackout, Rupture and Whiteout) and the HIDDEN ICELAND series (The Darkness, The Island).
Ragnar is the co-founder of Iceland Noir, Iceland’s first crime fiction festival. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic; a practice that has inspired his own writing.