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Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.

The Perfect Landscape

The Perfect Landscape - Ragna Sigurðardóttir

There isn’t a lot of dramatic action in this Nordic mystery; its pleasures are more subtle and character driven. The book opens in Iceland, where Hanna, an art theorist, is beginning a new job at a small but prestigious art museum and hoping for a fresh start in her home country. She’s currently separated from her daughter and somewhat estranged from her Italian husband of 20 years, so Hanna looks forward to throwing herself into what she believes will be a cushy and interesting job. Once she arrives however, she realizes that the job isn’t what she thought and its internal politics are tricky enough that she has to be on guard much of the time. A lot of the book’s activity takes place inside Hanna’s head, where she uses her knowledge of fencing strategies and stances to prepare herself to parley effectively with the people around her.


Since Hanna’s area of expertise is landscape paintings, she’s thrilled that the museum has acquired a beautiful landscape by a much beloved early twentieth century Icelandic artist, but when she and a male colleague she has complicated feelings for begin to suspect it’s a forgery they launch a covert investigation that involves collectors, dealers and artists from across northern Europe. Though not gripping in an edge-of-the-seat kind of way, The Perfect Landscape is quietly compelling and I kept coming back to it for the joy of making discoveries along with Hanna.