A remote island. A brutal murder. A secret hidden in the past . . .
In the middle of the North Sea, between the UK and Denmark, lies the beautiful and rugged island nation of Doggerland.
Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby has returned to the main island, Heimö, after many years in London and has worked hard to become one of the few female police officers in Doggerland.
So, when she wakes up in a hotel room next to her boss, Jounas Smeed, she knows she’s made a big mistake. But things are about to get worse: later that day, Jounas’s ex-wife is found brutally murdered. And Karen is the only one who can give him an alibi.
The news sends shockwaves through the tight-knit island community, and with no leads and no obvious motive for the murder, Karen struggles to find the killer in a race against time.
Soon she starts to suspect that the truth might lie in Doggerland’s history. And the deeper she digs, the clearer it becomes that even small islands can hide deadly secrets . . .
I have to admit I had no knowledge of the Doggerlands, a series of islands in the North Sea until i read Fatal Isles, that heightened my curiosity to visit its wildly varied landscape and eclectic inhabitants.
In fact it was the inhabitants that were the most intriguing, in particular Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby who we met in what could only be seen as a bit of a predicament. Sleeping with her boss was definitely not in her plans but it allowed Adolfsson to set the tone of her less than friendly professional relationship with Smeed. It was stretched even further when his ex wife, Susanne wound up murdered and Karen found herself promoted to his job and head of the investigation.
It was an investigation that threw up few clues, but gave us the back story to many of its characters, to Susanne’s birth on a commune, the links between its inhabitants and their present circumstances. Yet none of this seemed to help Karen as she faced growing criticism, criticism that showed a police force with little regard for women, for those that kept themselves slightly aloof and thought outside of the box. I liked Karen’s guts and determination to prove them wrong and that grew as Adolfsson slowly unraveled her history, one that was tinged with grief and loss, that made you realise the reasons for her behaviour.
As Karen became more entrenched in the investigation, criss crossing the island, so Adolfsson was able to paint us a brilliantly vivid picture of its landscape of the wealthy seaside houses to the outer inland blocks of flats that housed the less fortunate in its society. It was a world that seemed caught between the modern and the traditional, between those born on the island and those who migrated from mainland UK and Scandinavia, between those who had wealth and a comfortable living and those that did not.
That theme magnified as the investigation continued, as Susanna’s real character emerged, as jealousy and grudges became more apparent, but nothing prepared you for what came next. Adolfsson lulled you into a comfortable plausible conclusion, but just like Karen you didn’t quite believe it, and as the pages turned you sensed the tension building, as the storm clouds descended and that final pieces of the jigsaw finally slotted together.
That may have been the end of the investigation but you got the feeling that Adolfsson was laying the foundations for more, the introduction of the various characters, the relationships both smooth and tension filled along with the mention of another crime that simmered in the background. A crime that sounded horrific, that tweaked your interest and planted the seed that Adolfsson had more in store for Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby.
I am hoping that it will not be too long before we meet again.
I would like to thank Zaffre for a copy of Fatal Isles to read and review and to Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
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