Release Date: December 3, 2019 / Support your local indie book store and snag a copy here!
A good book, this. Spare and haunting as Scandinavian works often are, suspenseful and mysterious, a bleak, cerebral look at the darker sides of otherwise decent human beings. And still I couldn’t help wishing for an even better book – because I think it could have been. Perhaps it is just that – a “look at” rather than a “look into”. Motivations are pretty apparent, but something was missing or in the way of understanding the “who” of the characters.
Sister Johanna is sent by Cardinal Raffin to Iceland to investigate allegations against Father August Frans, headmaster of a Catholic school there. Initially we don’t know what the allegations are, but one is tempted to make an educated guess, of course. Other than speaking Icelandic, Sister seems an unlikely choice for this assignment, but Cardinal Raffin has knowledge that he holds against her and it soon becomes apparent that this is not meant to be, must not be, a serious investigation. No one really wants to get at the truth, to have it known.
While the book moves back and forth in time providing background, I still felt that something, some piece or pieces were missing, and I found the chronology somewhat confusing at times, though easy enough to resolve. Maybe just me and my soggy synapses. Of course, it’s a rare book that ticks all the boxes, and in spite of all that and the painfully guarded characters, this book is a worthwhile read. As usual, the driver for me is that I had to know. So will you, and when all is said and done, you might find yourself conflicted about what you know. You’ll know the who and the why right enough, but trust me, not just anyone would do….that. Hmmm, a book that drives you to find out and then leaves you mulling its outcome. Now, you see, that sort of quandary, that sort of something to think about, can go on the plus side for Mr. Olafsson’s book.
Full Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided to me by HarperCollins Publishers / Ecco via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank the publisher, the author and NetGalley for providing me this opportunity. All opinions expressed herein are my own.