June 23, 2020

The Mist

By Ragnar Jónasson
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The Mist is the third and final book in Ragnar Jónasson’s electrifying Hidden Iceland series, which features Hula Hermannsdóttir, detective inspector with the Reykjavik Police Department. Like its predecessors, The Darkness (2018) and The Island (2019), Jónasson’s latest is a labyrinthine murder mystery set against the bleak backdrop of Iceland.

It’s Christmas 1987, and Erla and Einar Einarsson, who run a farm in the highlands—“the edge of the inhabited world”—are preparing for the holiday. In their part of Iceland, winter days don’t begin to brighten until 11 a.m., brutal blizzards are a regular occurrence and skiing is easier than walking or driving. The two receive few visitors and don’t have a television.

In the midst of a pummeling snowstorm, a stranger named Leó shows up at the farm looking for shelter. Leó claims to have become lost during a hunting trip with friends, but Erla doesn’t believe his story. She’s frightened of him from the start, and her fears worsen after the electricity goes out, leaving the farmhouse in darkness. As Erla tries to find out what Leó is after, the novel moves headlong toward a terrifying climax.

Two months later, Hulda, recently returned from personal leave after a tragedy involving her teenage daughter, is asked to look into a pair of murders that occurred at the farm. Although she struggles to keep her emotions in check, Hulda moves into detective mode, bringing her brisk, efficient investigative style to a sinister crime scene. But the circumstances at the farm are more complex than they appear, and Hulda soon discovers that the murders may be linked to the disappearance of a young woman named Unnur.

Jónasson turns the tension up to a nearly unendurable degree as the novel unfolds. His complete—and complex—narrative design isn’t revealed until late in the book, when the story’s multiple threads coalesce in a surprising conclusion. With this no-frills thriller, he continues to map Iceland’s outlying regions and to develop Hulda’s character, adding a new chapter to her story that followers of the series will savor. Masterfully plotted and paced, The Mist is atmospheric, haunting and not for the faint of heart.

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The Mist

The Mist

By Ragnar Jónasson
ISBN 9781250768117

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