Iceland, the name of the place itself makes one feel cold, the kind of cold that seeps under your skin and Ragnar Jonasson’s latest thriller Outside captures the atmosphere so brutally that sitting here and suffering the sweltering heat of Indian Summer, I have no words to describe how easily the author transported me to the setting. The snow-laden highlands, the blizzard that reduces visibility to zero, the whole panorama of whiteness, the four friends struggling to make it to the shelter, being caught unawares amidst their hunting trip, these details are utterly palpable that for a time I was walking in the footsteps of one of the four people. Well, after having read a couple of books by the author, I didn’t expect anything less from Ragnar Jonasson.
Daniel, Helena, Armann, and Gunnalaugur have known each other for a long time, enough to be aware of each other’s weaknesses and flaws but the unexpected weather conditions forcing them inside a refuge hut is kind of the last straw. As the hut reveals its secret, the tensions and disgust amongst them surge forward with a vengeance causing unforeseen repercussions.
Keeping the chapters short and snappy and advancing the plot thru the POVs of all four of them, the author succeeds in delivering an aura of menacing disaster just around the corner for the first part of the story. It is in the second half that the momentum is a trifle lost and the pacing slackens down. All four of them are unlikeable and made it difficult for me to connect to any of them. The ending of the story was not to my liking even though it is a realistic climax but I am someone who prefers everything tied up with a neat bow.
I will always be happy to read any translated works by Ragnar Jonasson, Outside, though didn’t live up to my sky-high expectations.
3.5 stars for this atmospheric thriller.
Many thanks to Net Galley, Penguin Michael Joseph UK, and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.
Four friends. One night. Not everyone will come out alive . . .
Pre-order the gripping new stand-alone mystery from ‘world-class crime writer’ Ragnar Jónasson
In a deadly Icelandic snowstorm, four friends seek shelter in an abandoned hunting lodge. Miles from help, and knowing they will die out in the cold, they break in, hoping to wait out the storm until morning.
But nothing can prepare them for what’s inside . . .
With no other option, they are forced to spend a long and terrifying night in the cabin: watching as intently and silently as they themselves are being watched.
As the night darkens, old secrets spill into the light, and tensions rise between the four friends. Soon it’s clear that what they’ve discovered in the cabin is far from the only mystery lurking there.
Nor the only thing to be afraid of . . .
Praise for Ragnar Jónasson
‘Is this the best crime writer in the world today?’ The Times
‘An intensely gripping mystery, Ragnar Jonasson is a poet of the “dark, wet and cold”, of the “gloom, cold and rain”. The climactic revelations are credible and moving’ The Times
‘Invigorating Iceland-set slice of Nordic Noir’ Daily Mail
‘A mist-shrouded blend of horror and psychological thriller . . . works in every way’ Booklist
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