In this unsettling standalone set in the mid-1980s from Jónasson (the Dark Iceland series), Reykjavík substitute teacher Una, who’s ready for a change of scene, accepts an opportunity to teach in the remote fishing village of Skálar, which has only 10 residents, two of them girls aged seven and nine. Una moves into an attic room in the home of one of the girl’s mothers, and soon finds how insular and isolated Skálar is. Meanwhile, to Una’s distress, she has visions in the room of a girl singing a lullaby. A neighbor discloses that a girl named Thrá died in the house in 1927 under mysterious circumstances, and is rumored to still haunt it. A shocking death in the present and a local conspiracy connected to a missing person add to Una’s fears. Jónasson makes Una’s plight feel vivid and immediate, and effectively uses the isolated setting to create a claustrophobic atmosphere. While this packs less of a punch than the author’s best work, it’s far superior to most similarly themed thrillers. Agent: David Headley, DHH Literary (U.K.). (May)
From the Publisher
Ragnar Jonasson hailed as one of "the heirs to the Agatha Christie crown" by The Daily Telegraph (UK).
A Sunday Times (UK) top ten bestseller!
"[Chilling] and atmospheric. Jonasson’s writing makes you feel claustrophobic, like you are really trapped at the end of the world... If you are looking for a dark and chilling Nordic Noir, look no further than The Girl Who Died." —Mystery & Suspense
"In Jonasson’s books, the harsh and unforgiving Icelandic winter might as well be its own character...a perfect storm of danger and intrigue." —New York Post
"[A] masterfully conceived horror novel...Ragnar Jonasson's impeccable plotting is really a wonder of the crime genre." —Dayton Daily News
"With his trademark elegant prose and atmospheric sense of place, Jónasson weaves a slow-burning, haunting tale with a chilling ending." —Sunday Express (UK)
"As in all Jónasson’s novels, The Girl Who Died features a cast of fascinating characters, a riveting plot, and a sense of a country that is unique for its language and culture. This is another outstanding Icelandic mystery." —Marilyn's Mystery Reads blog
"This stand-alone, a mist-shrouded blend of horror and psychological thriller, works in every way." —Booklist (starred review)
"The mystery of what exactly is going on in Skálar will hook Jonasson’s readers as much as it does Una, and the author expertly builds intrigue and suspense with each passing page...Known for his grittier Dark Iceland series of crime thrillers, Jonasson opts for a more moody, surreal tone in The Girl Who Died...[a] slow-building sense of dread and unease." —BookPage
"The Girl Who Died delivers Jónasson's usual sublime atmospheric puzzle but with bonus chills, courtesy of an apparently haunted house...Not for the first time, Jónasson demonstrates a gift for capturing the particular loneliness that attends physical isolation." —Shelf Awareness
"An atmospheric, authentically shivery ghost story with criminal trimmings." —Kirkus Reviews
“Far superior to most similarly themed thrillers.” —Publishers Weekly
Praise for Ragnar Jonasson:
“Jonasson is an automatic must-read for me ... possibly the best Scandi writer working today.” —Lee Child, internationally bestselling author of the Jack Reacher thrillers
“A world-class crime writer" —The Sunday Times, UK
"Jónasson is a unique voice in this genre" —The Times Literary Supplement, UK
"Is this the best crime writer in the world today?" —The Times, UK
"Few writers at work today conjure atmosphere with such power" —A.J. Finn
"Ragnar does claustrophobia beautifully" —Ann Cleeves
"Ragnar Jonasson is the Stephen King of Icelandic thrillers." —She Reads
Praise for the Hidden Iceland series:
"If you’re looking for a fictional good fright to distract you from the real ones, look no further than this third entry in the Hidden Iceland series." —Washington Post on The Mist
"Jonasson turns up the tension to a nearly unendurable degree...Masterfully plotted and paced, The Mist is atmospheric, haunting, and not for the faint of heart." —BookPage
"Jónasson weaves his suspenseful tales together with remorseless logic up to a climax more nightmarish than the buildup." —Kirkus Reviews on The Mist
“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, UK on The Mist
"One of the most astonishing plots in modern crime fiction...The Mist is a triumphant conclusion to the trilogy and makes Iceland’s pre-eminence in the crime genre even more marked....Jónasson is up there with the best.” —The Sunday Times, UK
"The Mist confirms Ragnar Jónasson’s masterly trilogy is a landmark in modern crime fiction" —The Times, UK
"One of the author's best plots, layered with that dour Scandinavian atmosphere we love." —New York Times Book Review on The Island
"Masterly...Jónasson delivers a mind-bending look into human darkness that earns its twists." —Publishers Weekly (starred review) on The Island
"Jónasson pulls no punches as this grim tale builds to its stunning conclusion, one of the more remarkable in recent crime fiction. Fans of uncompromising plotting will be satisfied." —Publishers Weekly (starred review and book of the week) on The Darkness
"The Darkness melds an insightful character study with a solid plot for an outstanding novel." —Washington Post
"A complex, fascinating mix of Icelandic community and alienation, atmospheric tension, and timely issues (immigrant exploitation and vigilante justice), Jónasson’s latest series is another must-read for crime fans who follow the work of Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdardóttir." —Booklist (starred review) on The Darkness
"As an older female detective, Hulda is a refreshing addition to the genre. This intricate and timely work explores the dehumanization of refugees, sexism in the police force, aging, and more without overwhelming the core mystery. VERDICT: This heart-pounding tale will appeal to fans of Camilla Lackberg and those looking for a darker, more modern Agatha Christie-type mystery." —Library Journal on The Darkness
"Jónasson manages to resolve the plot lines plausibly, and is as strong as ever at combining fair-play with psychological depth." —Publishers Weekly on The Darkness
"If you think you know how frigid Iceland can be, this blistering stand-alone from Jónasson has news for you: It's much, much colder than you've ever imagined. Warmly recommended for hot summer nights." —Kirkus Reviews on The Darkness
Haines's Independent Bones features PI Sarah Booth Delaney, caught up with protecting a visiting professor of Greek literature at Ole Miss whose radical feminism may have sparked murder (40,000-copy first printing). In Jonasson's latest, Una is teaching in a remote Icelandic village when she discovers dark secrets the polite if distant villages have kept hidden for generations—perhaps involving The Girl Who Died (50,000-copy first printing). A peasant girl is murdered in a northern Chinese village, and exiled inspector Lu Fei takes the case in Klingborg's Thief of Souls (75,000-copy first printing). Brought back by Lupica in 2018, PI Sunny Randall investigates the suicide of best friend Spike's 20-year old niece in Robert B. Parker's Payback. In 1910, a senior barrister is found dead in a notorious London slum, and junior barrister Daniel Pitt endangers his family by investigating in Perry's Death with a Double Edge. In Walker's The Coldest Case, applying the facial reconstruction tools used on ancient skulls to the skull of a long-dead murder victim leads Bruno, chief of police in fictional town in the Dordogne, to the activities of a Cold War-era Communist organization. With A Peculiar Combination, Louisiana librarian Weaver detours from her beloved Amory Ames books to launch a new series starring Electra "Ellie" McDonnell, who cracks safes with locksmith uncle Mick to make ends meet in World War II England and agrees to help the government when she's caught (40,000-copy first printing).
Jónasson transports a Reykjavík teacher to a job in faraway Skálar, where she falls under the spell of the place. It’s not a good spell.
“Teacher wanted at the edge of the world” announces the advertisement that lures Una, barely scraping by in her humdrum job, to the Langanes Peninsula at the northeastern tip of Iceland. The town has a population of 10, two of whom need a teacher. Upon her arrival, Una settles into the attic in the house of Salka, whose daughter, Edda, 7, is one of her pupils. The other girl, Kolbrún, is two years older and a good deal harder to reach, maybe because her mother, Inga, is standoffish and her father, the fisherman Kolbeinn, is an indiscriminate flirt. But the girl who gradually comes to overshadow both Una’s pupils is Thrá, who died 60 years ago but who repeatedly, wordlessly appears to Una—and perhaps to other villagers as well, even if they won’t admit it. When one of her two students marks the end of their Christmas concert by collapsing on the church floor and dying of liver failure, Una feels her status in Skálar crumbling, a process that swiftly accelerates when she calls the Reykjavik police to tell them that she’s recognized the missing Patrekur Kristjánsson as someone who turned up at Salka’s door looking for Hjördís, who owns the local guesthouse. So why won’t Salka back up her identification? Why does fishery owner Guffi, the closest thing to a power broker in town, threaten her over what she’s done? And what does all this have to do with the long-dead Thrá?
An atmospheric, authentically shivery ghost story with criminal trimmings.