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The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson. Book review

March 11, 2018

The Darkness book cover

Hulda Hermannsdóttir, a Detective Inspector in the Reykjavik Police, is nearing retirement, but is really not ready to do so. No matter, because her boss, keen to bring in new blood, forces her to leave early. Not psychologically ready for this, Hulda manages to negotiate for a stay of execution and is granted two weeks in which to work on a case of her choice. Hulda chooses one in which a young Russian woman awaiting asylum was found dead in a remote location. As she begins to dig further into the way the investigation was conducted, Hulda discovers one of her colleagues may have been negligent in his approach to the young woman’s actual cause of death and that far from being suicide, her untimely end may have been something far more sinister.

This novel begins very slowly and low key. Hulda has not had the most fortunate life, but has kept going through all the adversity. It now looks as if a close and supportive friend Hilda respects and likes immensely wants to take their relationship to the next step. Indeed, a new and productive retirement appears to be on the horizon. Concluding this final case to Hulda’s satisfaction will be the icing on the cake.

Hulda is a likeable, homely character, with a strong sense of right and wrong, particularly when it comes to victims of crime. Do not be fooled by Hulda’s placid and apparently mundane character and plodding approach to policing, because Ragnar Jónasson is deliberately trying to lull you into complacency. Reading The Darkness is the authorial equivalent of someone creeping up on you from behind and shouting “Boo”. Be in no doubt, set in the chill of this far north and often inhospitable island, The Darkness certainly delivers on its atmospheric title.

The Darkness was courtesy of Michael Joseph via NetGalley.

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