cover image Kalmann


Joachim B. Schmidt, trans. from the German by Jamie Lee Searle. Bitter Lemon, $16.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-913394-68-4

Kalmann Ódinsson, the 33-year-old neurodivergent man and self-proclaimed sheriff of the remote village of Raufarhöfn, Iceland, who narrates this endearing slice-of-life mystery, Swiss Icelandic author Schmidt’s English-language debut, fills his days hunting Arctic foxes and catching sharks to ferment into the delicacy called hákarl. Lonely, Kalmann longs for another close relationship like the one he shares with his ailing grandfather, who helped raise him to be empathetic and independent. Kalmann’s discovery while hunting of a frozen pool of human blood coincides with the disappearance of a wealthy but debt-ridden local hotel owner whose influence and shady business dealings touch many of Raufarhöfn’s residents. When Birna, a Reykjavík police officer, arrives to investigate, Kalmann winds up navigating the insular social dynamics of the once-thriving fishing community in his efforts to help her, even though he’s underestimated as little more than the town fool. The narrative charms of Schmidt’s unlikely detective will keep readers turning the pages. Nordic crime fans won’t want to miss this unusual take on a familiar story. (June)