Ragnar Jonasson


""...a chilling read..." "


When a deadly snowstorm strikes the Icelandic highlands, four friends seek shelter in a small, abandoned hunting lodge. It is in the middle of nowhere and there's no way of communicating with the outside world. They are isolated, but they are not alone.

As the night darkness, and fear intensify, an old tragedy gradually surfaces – one that forever changed the course of their friendship. Those dark memories could hold the key to the mystery the friends find themselves in… and whether they will survive until morning.

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There seems to have been a number of thrillers written in the last few years where the plot centres around old school friends meeting up for a reunion and a secret lies at the centre of the once close-knit group. It's almost becoming a cliché of the crime fiction genre. When done well, it can become an instant classic. What saves 'Outside' from slipping into the usual trope is the brutal Icelandic landscape which Ragnar Jonasson uses so well to dial up the tension to explosive. Each chapter is told from the point of view of each of the four friends. It's a very fast read (I read it in two sittings) and the chapters are short. The characters, individually, reveal their back stories and their own lives, but as a group, the relationships are as cold as the weather. I love Jonasson's use of the landscape. In all of his novels, he adds Iceland as an addition character intruding on the human elements of the plot. As the story unfolds, we discover each of the friends' pasts and what sadness and darkness lurks there. The introduction of a fifth character is slightly disjointed as he doesn't say anything. He's central to the drama, but we know nothing about him and picturing a man in a hut remaining in complete silence and not giving anything as to his presence stretches credibility. The character that works best for me is Daniel. He's escaped Iceland and moved to London to try to make a career as an actor. His life isn't going how he envisioned, but he is the most fully formed of the foursome. The secret of the reunion, when revealed, falls a little flat. It wasn't the mammoth drama I was expecting, and it could all have been summed up as a tragic accident. This is a chilling read, but it's the weather that makes it chilling rather than the plot.

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