I was fortunate enough to win an ARC of this book in a twitter giveaway (thank you so much, lovely Penguin people!). The arrival of The Darkness through the post in mid-January really was a high point at a time when I was floored by a nasty virus. Although I mentioned this novel in my January round-up post, it was mid-February before I was able to read it. It certainly proved worth the wait!
The Darkness is a contemporary police procedural about a drowned Russian asylum seeker, a cold case taken on by Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir as her final case before reluctantly retiring from the police force. Hulda is an utterly believable character, a solitary woman who can’t quite believe she is 64 years old, and I liked the care with which her childhood and events in her past were written and, gradually, divulged. Her tentative moves towards a more fulfilling life in retirement were also pleasingly written. And I very much enjoyed the writer’s descriptions of Iceland.
Hulda’s investigation into the death of Elena, whether by accidental drowning, suicide or murder, is compelling. At one point towards the end of the book, I found the tension lessening slightly because to me the book’s villain seemed rather inadequate. But then there is an audacious, shocking twist – I finished The Darkness rather awestruck by the writer and quite desperate to read the next books in the series (The Island and The Mist, according to the inside cover). That Ragnar Jonasson has translated some of Agatha’s Christie’s works comes as no surprise now: evidently he has incorporated her ability to shock readers alongside his other skills in writing satisfying, bold detective fiction.
4 stars for this slice of Scandinavian noir that also has a twist of Agatha Christie. Highly recommended.
UK publication: 15 March 2018 by Michael Joseph.