“A small pair of blood-splattered feet were the first things Snorri Petursson saw as he swung the beam of his flickering torch across the snow-covered lava fields…When he ran the light further up the legs across the torn black tights and black skirt he could see that the young woman they belonged to was no longer alive. Her eyes were wide open but staring lifelessly ahead at nothing, covered with a thin layer of blood that criss-crossed her cornea like a fishing net. Her startled appearance gave her a look of being taken completely by surprise. By the state of her head that was exactly what happened,” –The Mistake by Grant Nicol
The Mistake, by Grant Nicol, is an atmospheric trip into Icelandic noir that leaves the reader’s fingers blistering as you fly thorough the pages of this well-plotted offering. The plot is lean, dialogue real, the words seem to have been painted onto the page by a master artist and the characters jump off the page.
The plot is a well-known one. Girl is killed and the police find a suspect at the scene of the crime. The suspect denies his guilt and the police rush to find evidence to convict. Basic fare…right? Not in the hands of Nicol. He has added enough to this plot to bring it to life in a fresh manner and leave the reader unsure of what new twists will be coming next. I found that the cold, dark Icelandic setting helped add to the atmosphere that was being painted throughout the novel. It helped create a dark, dreary vibe that served the experience of reading the book well.
The police receive a call that a young woman’s body has been mutilated and the body has been left outside of a local building. The suspect they find near the body has no forensic evidence on him to tie him to the crime, but claims to have no memory of the 15 minutes preceding him seeing the body. The suspect has a lengthy past that explains this blind spot in his memory and the threads to the story are sewn together where nothing seems contrived.
The story has all the golden nuggets needed to have a dark, dreary tale (in the most positive way). Nicol has crafted a tale that has a vengeful father looking for answers and willing to find revenge in anyway he can, a cop who is desperate for answers and will look high and low for them, call-girls and pimps, and he has an eye for putting them together in a book that was enjoyable and a great introduction to this author.
This is the third offering I have read from the up-and-coming Number Thirteen Press, and I am pleased to say it is the third book I have enjoyed! I am hoping this trend continues and I hope they are considering publishing more than 1 book per month…but I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, as I am really enjoying what we are getting from them every month!