Sunday 31 July 2022

Book Review: The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson

The Darkness by Ragnar Jonasson book cover

AD* | 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 at 64. 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. 

The Darkness is the first book in the Hidden Iceland series. It's an atmospheric noir novel about a puzzling cold case and one very determined Detective!

The main character, Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir, is swiftly approaching retirement. With no family, few friends, and little life left outside of her beloved job, the creeping advancement of time ticks down like a bomb about to explode. Though she may lack people skills, Hulda more than makes up for it with diligence and passion for her work. As she takes on one last case - an unsolved cold case, abandoned by a colleague more than a year ago - she resolves to do her very best to solve the case and obtain justice not just for the victim, but for herself as well.

There is a pervasive air of sadness and loneliness throughout this story. Hulda's own fears, worries and regrets seep through the pages, colouring the beautiful Icelandic landscape as a barren, desolate wasteland. It's beautifully written, subtle yet at the same time, hard to ignore. The translator really has done an excellent job interpreting the very essence of the story rather than just the words themselves.

The story is well-paced, drawing to a conclusion yet still leaving the ending unresolved. The reader is left to make their own mind up about what happens, without having everything explicitly made clear with a stark, black and white explanation. Some readers may find this a little frustrating, but it does leave things open-ended with plenty of scope for a return in the sequel or resulting series.

Seamlessly evocative, The Darkness is a solid addition to the crime noir genre and the first in what's bound to be an excellent series.

Rating: 3 stars

The Darkness is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below! 

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