AN INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
A SUNDAY TIMES UK BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

“So much to relish here . . . and the writing is just lovely!” 
—Diane Setterfield, New York Times bestselling author of The Thirteenth Tale and Once Upon a River


A fantastic tale set in the far north of Sweden in 1852 following a runaway Sami boy and his mentor, the famous pastor Laestadius, as they investigate a murder in their village along with the mysteries of life.


Jussi, a runaway, becomes Laestadius's faithful son and disciple, and the two set out on botanical treks filled with philosophical discussions where Jussi learns all about plants and nature; and also how to read and write and about spirituality. But their quiet days are interrupted when a maid goes missing in the forest. When she is found dead, the locals suspect a predatory bear is at large. The constable is quick to offer a reward for capturing it, but Laestadius sees other traces that point to a far worse killer on the loose.

After another maid is severely injured, Jussi and the pastor work to track down the murderer, unaware of the evil that is closing in on them. For it is revivalist times, and impassioned faith spreads like wildfire among the locals. While Laestadius's powerful Sunday sermons grant salvation to farmers and workers, they gain him enemies among local rulers, who see profits dwindle as people choose revival over alcohol.

A completely absorbing and unforgettable novel, To Cook a Bear both entertains and burrows deep down into the great philosophical questions of life.
"Intriguing... sensuous."
The Wall Street Journal 

"Sumptuous."
Publishers Weekly

"There is much more to this wonderfully idiosyncratic novel from Sweden; it is not only a riveting, psychologically astute mystery but also a work of history, natural history (the pastor is a gifted botanist), and religion...superb. It is not to be missed."
Booklist (starred)

"Vivid and engaging. This marvelous historic crime novel plumbs the bogs of 19th-century Sweden--and the mysteries of the soul." 
Shelf Awareness (starred)

"Divine. This book is a masterpiece." 
—Daglabet 
(Norway)

"Niemi is a born storyteller, To Cook a Bear is a beguiling and seductive read." 
Crime Time (UK)

"Niemi succeeds in constructing a story that works as a murder mystery and as a compelling study of a dangerously inward-looking community."
Sunday Times (UK)

"Niemi’s writing – that of a narrator and a poet, a dreamer and a storyteller – brushes the highest peaks of the most delicate lyricism, rising strongly out of the abyss of the darkest mystery."
—Corierre della Sera (Italy)