“I raced through this book as if reading it faster would help Hulda solve the case even quicker!”
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson is an exciting Icelandic crime story, that’s dark, moody and realistic in both setting and characterisation.
The moment Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir of the Reykjavik Police was rudely told to leave her job and take early retirement to make way for a younger replacement I knew I was going to love this book. From there on, I wanted her to succeed in anything she touched, if only to get her own back on her boss.
After negotiating whilst still in shock, the detective was told she could stay on, but only if she worked on one of the cold, unsolved cases during her final two weeks. The fact that her current cases and other work had already been distributed to other staff angered both me and Hulda!
Fortunately, Hulda kept her cool (much better than I did) and immediately decided which case to pick, since it was one she’d felt her colleague Alexander had never dealt with properly in the first place, but at the time she was not in the position to argue with him.
With two weeks in her position left she re-opened the cold case of the Russian girl and asylum seeker, Elena. eager to prove she didn’t kill herself by drowning but was murdered. And in the first 24 hours she knew more than what was put on Alexander’s original report. Go girl!
From here on, we follow Hulda’s investigation, in third person point of view, and we also hear the story of an unknown girl’s own narrative in first person.
Oh, how I loved Alexander’s reaction when he discovered Hulda looking into his closed case. If that’s not the sign of a guilty man then I don’t know what is! Brilliant!
In addition, when Hulda’s two weeks on the case were reduced to only one day by her angry boss, I raced through this book as if reading it faster would help her solve the case even quicker!
Hulda is one of my favourite ‘older’ characters, who has been through a lot, with secrets of her own, and I rooted for her throughout this story. She’s a courageous, hardworking and down-to-earth character who has faced a lot of prejudice during her career in the police force just for being a woman. The fact that Ragnar Jónasson has clearly emphasised this point right up to her last few days on the job, makes the sucker-punch of an ending even harder to deal with.
I loved every minute of this book, and even the sad, disappointing, yet shocking and annoying ending cannot sway me from awarding this book five stars. Confession Time; Want to know something else? I only picked this book up to have a brief look, with the thought of getting to it soon. But once I picked it up I couldn’t put the bloody thing back down again…
Thanks to the author, publisher and #NetGalley for my copy of #TheDarkness. This is my unbiased opinion.
‘Superb. . . chilling . . . This is the first volume in Jonasson’s Hidden Iceland trilogy, which tells Hulda’s story in reverse chronological order and establishes her as one of the great tragic heroines of contemporary detective fiction’ Sunday Times Crime Book of the Month
‘Ragnar Jónasson writes with a chilling, poetic beauty – a must-read addition to the growing canon of Iceland Noir’ Peter James, The Number One bestselling author of Love You Dead
‘Crime fiction has never seen a character quite like Hulda Hermannsdóittir; nor a series launch so entirely willing to take risks and obliterate long-standing tropes . . . There is no doubt that The Darkness will rank as one of the most popular and powerful reading experiences of the year’ Bolo Books Review
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 fromone of the most exciting names in Nordic Noir.
Praise for Ragnar Jónasson
‘Seductive . . . an old-fashioned murder mystery with a strong central character and the fascinating background of a small Icelandic town cut off by snow. Ragnar does claustrophobia beautifully’ Ann Cleeves
‘A classic crime story seen through a uniquely Icelandic lens . . . first rate and highly recommended’ Lee Child on Snowblind
‘A modern take on Agatha Christie-style mystery, as twisty as any slalom . . .’ Ian Rankin on Snowblind
‘His clues are traditional and beautifully finessed – and he keeps you turning the pages’ The Independenton Snowblind
‘Distinctive blend of Nordic noir and golden age detective fiction . . . atmospheric . . . economical and evocative prose’ The Guardian on Nightblind
‘Jónasson’s books have breathed new life into Nordic noir . . . all the skilful plotting of an old-fashioned whodunit although it feels bitingly contemporary in setting and tone’ Sunday Express
‘The ending hits the reader like a kick in the stomach’ Frettatiminn ****
‘Out of all of Ragnar’s books, this is the one I like the most . . . The book of his which reminds me most of Agatha Christie’ Kiljan on The Island
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