Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Mist by Ragnar Jonasson

It's February, 1988, and bodies have been found on a remote farm in Iceland. 

Hulda Hermannsdóttir has only just returned to work as a police officer, after facing her own family tragedy at Christmas. But she insists she's ready. 

The farm is a shocking scene, with multiple dead and no immediately obvious suspect. And while even Hulda herself would admit that it's too early, the case does provide a distraction that she's much in need of. 

It doesn't take long for Hulda to begin to uncover evidence that lay hidden from those around her. But can she set her own issues aside in order to focus on the investigation at hand?

And here we are at the end of the Hulda series, which is actually the beginning!

This is by far my favorite of the Hulda series, and for many reasons. First, it's Hulda's origin story. The one we've been waiting for. And it's just as tragic as you imagined it would be. If you chose not to read the series in order and instead started here at the end (the beginning), then you had no time to prepare, really. 

The second reason this is my favorite, though, is that it's basically a Christmas book. I'd never consider myself a fan of Christmas books by any means: basically, I find it stifling to feel as though I can only read a book at a certain time of year. This is not THAT kind of Christmas book. But it does take place at Christmas, so if you wanted to save it (and savor it) then, you'd be well within your rights. Especially considering it's set in Iceland, the country with Jolabokaflod!

Jónasson sets the scene so perfectly here! Erla is up late when we meet her, reading a book—her last from the local library and so her last new book until Christmas. And it's their tradition to read on Christmas Eve anyway, so she's ok to wait. 

But then a stranger arrives at the farm. And Erla is suspicious. His story doesn't line up, his behavior is concerning, and their farm is already so isolated...

Erla and Hulda are our two main viewpoints, but there are a couple of others, and the story plays out in the days leading up to Christmas and Hulda's investigation almost two months later. 

This book is darker in my opinion than the previous two. In part because we finally get a story that's been alluded to in the previous two outings. But it's the crime in the farmhouse itself that I think makes it darker. And certainly it's a bit more graphic than the other two as well. 

Never fear, though! Jónasson falls on the lighter end of the Nordic Noir spectrum!

The Mist is gritty and atmospheric, snowfilled and dark (literally and figuratively), and an utterly perfect seasonal read no matter when you decide to dive in. I read it in shorts and flip flops and still felt the chill of winter deep in my bones!

The Mist is out now, order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

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