Jónasson weaves his suspenseful tales together with remorseless logic up to a climax more nightmarish than the buildup.

THE MIST

A trio of interlinked horrors unfold in the days leading up to Iceland’s celebration of Christmas 1987.

Maybe the following February is too soon for Detective Hulda Hermannsdóttir to have returned to work at Reykjavík CID. Assigned to reopen the case of Unnur, a girl from Gardabaet who vanished last autumn during the tour of Iceland she undertook on foot before enrolling in college, Hulda thinks it’s the worst possible investigation she could have been handed because she’s still reeling from the darkly hinted domestic catastrophe that began with the withdrawn behavior of Dimma, her own teenager, and alienated her from her husband, Jón, over the holidays. As Hulda, who’s not “kidding herself that there would be any happy ending,” soldiers on in search of the missing Unnur, Jónasson counterpoints her inquiries with excruciatingly paced stages of a flashback to the days before Christmas, when family farmer Einar Einarsson’s wife, Erla, opens the door of their house to Leó, a lost stranger who claims to have gotten separated from other members of his hunting party. A wintry storm prevents Leó from leaving, and with every hour that passes, Erla uncovers more discrepancies in his story. Who is he really, why has he come to their isolated home, and what unspeakable plans does he have in mind?

Jónasson weaves his suspenseful tales together with remorseless logic up to a climax more nightmarish than the buildup.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-76811-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A superficially gripping but psychologically unconvincing thriller.

SLEEPLESS

In present-day Germany, a woman burdened with the darkest of secrets from her brutal childhood becomes an unwitting participant in a fatal game of murder and deceit.

“You become normal by doing normal things,” Nadja Kulka’s therapist tells her, and for the most part the technique has worked. Nadja has a good job in the office of one of Berlin’s most successful lawyers and a secure if barren personal life. “I’m the woman who sits at the open window of her kitchen when she sees that her neighbour has friends over again on a Saturday night,” she explains. Social gatherings cause Nadja acute anxiety, and when the novel opens, she is in the grip of a panic attack that causes her to faint at a gas station and then to flee back onto the motorway, fearing that onlookers may have called the police. But why? And why is she wearing a blond wig? In this feverish, relentlessly tense novel, the answers to those and many other questions lie tangentially in Nadja’s past—to which the narrative cyclically returns—but more immediately in a sudden act of violence into which she is cruelly drawn. As dastardly events unfold, we are kept on edge not only by the author’s initially skillful evocation of Nadja’s troubled consciousness, but also by the novel’s restless shuttling between past and present. The eventual cinching together of near and distant events is clumsily handled, however, and the denouement utterly overwrought. A parallel plot involves the yearnings of a young woman who longs to escape her hometown backwater, embarks on an affair with a married visitor to her family’s inn, and pays a terrible price for her longings. Rather than enriching the novel, however, this drama, though potentially engrossing, seems more like a distraction.

A superficially gripping but psychologically unconvincing thriller.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-82479-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A high-octane thriller whose hero is tossed into one impossible situation after another. Best started early in the morning.

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WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BENNETTS

A hypernormal suburban family’s trip home from their daughter’s field hockey game leads them down a rabbit hole of criminal complications.

For some reason—maybe just because it’s a Mercedes—a pair of gunslingers pick court reporter Jason Bennett’s ride to carjack as he drives along a quiet road with his wife, photographer Lucinda, and their teenagers, Allison and Ethan. In the scuffle that follows, one of the carjackers is shot along with Allison, who dies in the hospital. Wait, it gets worse. A pair of FBI agents knocks on the Bennetts’ door at 3 a.m. to tell them that John Milo, the escaped carjacker, has framed Jason for the murder of his accomplice, George Veria Jr., in order to save himself from the wrath of Junior’s father, the kingpin of the George Veria Organization. Time is of the essence, the agents assure Jason and Lucinda: They have to leave their house and their old lives behind right now and go into the witness protection program. Sure enough, minutes after the three shellshocked Bennetts allow themselves to be driven off, a representative of the GVO sets fire to their house and follows up with a similar fire at Jason's office, and Lucinda’s office is vandalized. Warned off social media, the Bennetts can only watch helplessly as their friends and neighbors issue pleas for them to get in touch and self-styled “citizen detective” Bryan Krieger decides to launch his own freelance investigation, fueled by slanderous innuendo. Every time Jason thinks he’s finally got the situation figured out, Scottoline tosses in explosive new complications in the most relentless of all her mysteries.

A high-octane thriller whose hero is tossed into one impossible situation after another. Best started early in the morning.

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-525-53967-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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