Before Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir of the Reykjavik Police is forced into early retirement she is told to investigate a cold case of her choice, and she knows just the one. A young woman who was looking for asylum found dead on remote seaweed-covered rocks. Her death ruled a suicide after a cursory investigation. But Hulda soon realizes that this was not the only young woman to disappear around that time. And no one is telling the whole story. When her own force tries to put the brakes on the investigation Hulda has just days to discover the truth. Even if it means risking her own life……
After hearing how good Icelandic Noir is I thought it was about time I took the plunge and found out what it’s all about. There is no better writer to start with than author of bestseller, Snowblind, Ragnar Jonasson and I was delighted to be invited on the blogtour for The Darkness, the first in a proposed trilogy.
What I liked straight away was Hulda the main character. In so many crime novels the detective, if it happens to be a woman, is usually youngish and attractive. Hulda is neither young nor is she portrayed as overly attractive, in fact she is approaching her retirement, such a refreshing change.
Hulda is certainly flawed and not hugely dynamic, but well respected and known for her dogged and methodical work which gets results. A lonely woman she has few friends, her husband is dead and she appears to have no family. Her only solace is walking and the inkling of a deeper friendship with one of her fellow walkers. Its no wonder she finds her sudden enforced retirement too much. The opportunity to investigate a cold case of a missing Russina girl forces Hulda to come to terms with a past that she has kept hidden. This is where Jonasson excels as he slowly drip feeds snippets of Hulda’s past alongside the rapidly changing circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the Russian girl.
The pace is fast and the plot evolves twisting first one way and then another, and your never sure just who to believe. It took me quite some time to start to put all the various strands together, a sign of a good crime novel!
An extra dimension which I particularly enjoyed was Jonasson’s descriptions of the rugged and frozen Icelandic landscape. It is a landscape that has an essential part to play in the novel and I could almost feel the cold seeping off the pages, but also sense some of the beauty of the island.
I’m not sure I was satisfied with the ending of which I will let you make up your own mind when you go and borrow The Darkness from your local library!
Watch out for some more reviews from my fellow bloggers on The Darkness blogtour.
Thank you to Laura Nicol at Michael Joseph for a proof copy to read and review and for inviting mybookishblogspot on the blogtour.
About the author
Ragnar Jonasson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he works as a writer and a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University, has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service and has translated 14 of Agatha Christie’s novels from the age of 17. He is an international number one bestseller. The Darkness is the first novel in his Hidden Iceland series, followed by The Island and The Mist.