Welcome to my stop of the blog tour for Ragnar Jónasson’s latest novel, The Darkness, the first novel in an exciting new Nordic Noir series. I’m delighted to be sharing my review with you today.
The body of a young Russian woman washes up on an Icelandic shore. After a cursory investigation, the death is declared a suicide and the case is quietly closed.
Over a year later Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir of the Reykjavík police is forced into early retirement. She dreads the loneliness, and the memories of her dark past that threaten to come back to haunt her. But before she leaves she is given two weeks to solve a single cold case of her choice.
She knows which one: the Russian woman whose hope for asylum ended on the dark, cold shore of an unfamiliar country. Soon Hulda discovers that another young woman vanished at the same time, and that no one is telling her the whole story. Even her colleagues in the police seem determined to put the brakes on her investigation. Meanwhile the clock is ticking.
Hulda will find the killer, even if it means putting her own life in danger.
Spanning the icy streets of Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands and cold, isolated fjords, The Darkness is an atmospheric thriller from one of the most exciting names in Nordic Noir.
Surely, you’ve all read a book that gives you a taste of the end at the beginning, and experienced that need to know what happened – how did these events come to be? Well, image that happening with an entire series. Actually, you don’t even have to imagine because that’s exactly what Jónasson has done with his Hidden Iceland series – The Darkness is the first book in this Nordic noir series, featuring Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir, and the next books in this series will take place decades earlier. So, while you are reading this novel getting to know Hulda, you’re also curious about her life before we meet her. While this intrigue is there, The Darkness is a great novel in itself, and you’re left wanting more – not because this novel isn’t wrapped up but because you can already foresee how clever this series is going to be.
We first meet Hulda as she’s reaching retirement – it was a nice change to meet a detective at the end of their career rather than at the beginning, the knowledge and expertise is already there; so, when Hulda chooses a cold case to investigate, you know she’s a one-woman team up to the task. The mystery in this case is simpler than in other crime novels I’ve read, but it made for engaging reading. You slowly warm to Hulda, even though her colleagues don’t appear to have, and you hope her last case is one she can solve, because no one wants to be haunted by an unsolved case when they’re retiring.
The Darkness is a quick read, a novel that can be read in one-sitting and would appeal to fans of classic crime fiction. All the Nordic Noir feels are there, the cold Icelandic landscape creating that eerie atmosphere. Jónasson has a fluid and easily accessible writing style, so while I could not pronounce Reykjavík (or any of the other areas mentioned), it didn’t matter because I was easily able to transport myself to the location and experience it first-hand. This is definitely a book that gets better with every page you turn, I won’t give anything away, I’ll just say, I thought the ending was brilliant!
I can’t wait to return to this series, book 2 is set a decade earlier, and I’m looking forward to seeing how those events feed into what we already know. And as always, I’m grateful to Victoria Cribb, for translating this novel from the Icelandic so I could read it and become Jónasson’s newest fan!
*My thanks to Laura at Michael Joseph (Penguin Random House) for providing me with a copy of this novel and inviting me to participate in the blog tour*
About the Author:
Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavík, Iceland, where he works as a writer and a lawyer and teaches copyright law at Reykjavík University. He has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, and he has, from the age of seventeen onwards, translated fourteen of Agatha Christie’s novels. He is an international number one bestselling author.
The Darkness is the first novel in his Hidden Iceland series, to be followed by The Island and The Mist.
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