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Outside    by Ragnar Jonasson order for
by Ragnar Jonasson
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2022 (2022)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Ragnar Jonasson's Outside is a standalone Icelandic mystery with a strong vein of horror running through it. I'd enjoyed the author's Dark Iceland and Hidden Iceland series, so opened this novel with anticipation.

Four friends (whose back stories are slowly revealed to readers) embark on a reunion camping trip, hunting ptarmigan in the Icelandic highlands. Armann has organized it and leads the way through a severe snowstorm to an old hut, where they take refuge. Helena is an engineer and Gunnlauger a lawyer with a drinking problem. Daniel (an actor) grew up in Iceland but has recently returned from Britain. Missing is another old friend, Vikingur, who died.

When they get inside the hut, they're shocked to find a strange man, uncannily still, waiting for them with a gun! The man does not speak. They agree that Daniel and Helena should walk south to another hut with a radio, and seek help. Helena is injured. Daniel is lost in the storm. Gunnlauger (the loose cannon of the foursome) keeps drinking and the situation steadily deteriorates for all involved.

As we wonder how this could possibly end, we start to realize that nothing is what it seems on the surface - and that it's all about Vikingur ... and the perfect murder.

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