The Mist – Ragnar Jonason

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 . ..

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate the publication of this novel from one of my favourite Icelandic novelists, RAGNAR JÓNASSON and would like to thank the lovely Sriya for the tour invitation It’s given me yet another reason to thank the good Lord that I discovered the delights of Icelandic noir and that I’ve been able to sample such a wonderful range of translated fiction over the last few years, Thank you to the excellent translator Victoria Cribb who really managed to convey the beauty of the language in English and draw me seamlessly into the story.

mountain terrain near body of water

If Iceland is only in your mind because of hot springs and wonderful knitwear then you are in for an amazing surprise once you get hooked on its crime fiction. It really is unique in its flavour and once you’ve started, you’ll be totally hooked. This novel follows the previous two Hidden Iceland novels, and I loved the way that they mix the classic elements of the Icelandic crime novel with Hulda Hermansdottir’s personal life so credibly which really appealed to me as a reader.

I love reading novels that confound my expectation – that turn out to be something totally different to the novel that I thought that I was going to be reading. The Mist is one of those novels. It transported me to Iceland right alongside Hulda Hermansdottir and her team and it just immersed me in the case. I don’t think I’ve read a novel recently that kept me on my toes as much in terms of ‘solvability’ – it seemed like each new piece of information pointed me at a new theory about how to solve it and I was absolutely kept on the hook until the end. I really enjoyed this clever writing and rather than waiting for a ‘big twist’ it felt like I was unravelling clues along with Hulda and trying to help her unravel the clues of this compelling and haunting crime.

This is an absolutely immersive read, it’s as rich in setting as it is in  plot, allowing you to be swept off to the austere beauty of the Icelandic landscape and see it for yourself. It had never been somewhere that I’d have been desperate to see – but I found myself browsing online for holidays ‘once this lockdown is all over’ and trying to see some of these places for myself as they sounded so stunningly beautiful. I found myself re-reading certain parts of it – especially the parts featuring the description of the cottage itself and its surroundings –  just to experience them again as I was so caught up in the feeling that I wanted to see this beautiful country for myself one day.

red and white house surround green grass field

The Mist takes us back in time to the very start of Hulda’s career and we get to see her emerging into her career pathway and forming her skills as a detective. To me, these three novels that have taken us back through the three distinct phases of Hulda’s career come together to provide a highly satisfying trilogy as they are woven together so seamlessly in exactly the right proportions that make for an absolutely engrossing trio and would make for a wonderful boxed set for someone’s Christmas.

brown wooden dock front of assorted-color houses

In these novels, Iceland is almost a character in its own right and I felt like Ragnar has really brought the stunning Icelandic landscape vividly to life – blending its remote beauty with the personality of its inhabitants and making us think about the fact that even in the most gorgeous areas, murders can happen and that sometimes there can be just as much violence, hatred and bloodshed bubbling beneath the surfaces of small-town life than any big city on the planet. If like me you are missing travel due to COVID then this novel really is the next best thing and its sense of place is hard to beat. It was wonderful to escape from work and spend time in the beauty and splendour of the Icelandic landscape and felt almost as good as a holiday itself…

aerial view photography of white and red concrete house near village

Ragnar Jonasson is a talented and original writer whose characters spring off the page and come to life for you as you try and work for the answers alongside them. Hulda’s character is unforgettable – she is a woman haunted by the dark shadows of her past and we absolutely empathise with her as she has her demons that haunt her as well as the murders to solve during these investigations. I cannot recommend this highly satidfying third episode of the trilogy and feel very jealous of anyone who has yet to embark upon it.

mountains near body of water

The Mist is a superb blend of skilful plotting with a character-driven novel that I’ll be recommending to everyone. It stands out to me due to its deft manipulation of the reader and the way it keeps us guessing as well as its strong sense of place. Iceland springs to life as a character in its own right and makes you long to see some of these locations for yourself as you are reading.  Ragnar Jonasson’s truly is is an exciting voice in fiction that you need to discover if you haven’t already – for crime fiction with a deep serving of humanity alongside the darkness, look no further…

The Hidden Iceland trilogy: a crime story told in reverse - Dead Good

Buy yourself a copy of this fantastic and unique read here, you definitely won’t regret it.

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

Writer On The Shelf

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.

Author Links
Twitter: @Ragnarjo

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