ASK Musings

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March 2022



The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Fans of Icelandic mysteries. People who don’t want to be totally in the dark but still want to be surprised.

In a nutshell:
Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is widowed and closing in on retirement. Early on she receives some surprising bad news, and is given the OK to look into a cold case.

Worth quoting:

Why I chose it:
I loved the Dark Iceland series. This is an unrelated trilogy by the same author so obviously I had to get it. Bonus: the main character is a woman in her 60s – how often do we get that?

Hermannsdóttir is clearly a complicated woman. She’s a widow, works as a Detective Inspector, lives alone, and is closing in on retirement. When she finds out her retirement has been moved up, she decides to look into a closed case that she suspects wasn’t correctly solved. Asylum seeker Elena was found dead and one of Hermannsdóttir’s colleagues ruled it a suicide. Hermannsdóttir disagrees.

The book follows her exploration of this possible crime, but also her investigation into another one – a man suspected of pedophilia who was hit by a car, possibly intentionally. At the same time, Hermannsdóttir is considering pursuing a new relationship, the first since her husband’s death many years prior. There’s a lot going on here.

I’m not going to go into a lot more detail so I don’t spoil things, but as usual, Jónasson paints a very good picture. This book reads a bit like Arnaldur Indriðason’s books, in that there are what might potentially be related stories woven throughout, and the reader isn’t entirely sure who is being discussed in those chapters. I love that style of writing.

One thing I do appreciate about this book is the exploration of Hermannsdóttir’s career, and how being a woman in a profession full of men has been held back, her male bosses keeping her from moving up the ranks as quickly as lesser qualified men. It’s frustrating to read but good to see discussed in a novel (especially one written by a man). I’m looking forward to reading the second book (it’s a trilogy!), which I may have already purchased.

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