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I live in Bristol UK horror dark fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

Outstanding Nordic noir

The Darkness - Ragnar Jónasson

 Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir is very close to retirement and she is not sure if this idea makes her feel good. When she is called to the office of her immediate superior Magnus because "We need to have a little chat about your situation" she is not sure what to expect. It seems her noble boss is eager for her to leave so that her replacement "a real high achiever" can take over her job and a deadline is set for two weeks. In fact the arrogant Magnus is eager for her to depart immediately but .."On full pay, of course" Refusing to be intimidated and not wishing to retire early she eagerly grasps at a throwaway comment made by Magnus..."But you, well, you could always look into a cold case, I suppose. Anything that takes your fancy. How does that grab you?."....The pompous Magnus will live to regret his decision and as Hulda revisits again the unsolved case of refugee Elena "She had come to a foreign country in search of refuge and only found a watery grave. And nobody cared."....she will unravel a murder that was never properly managed, and in the process question the original investigation.

 

The primary officer in the case Alexander did not suspect murder and closed his findings on a suicide verdict. But DI Hulda questions why a young refugee would take her own life when she had just discovered that very morning her asylum application had been approved. Clearly something had been missed, Magnus had hoped that this old case had been put to rest and he is most unhappy that Hulda is "making waves" and causing problems when she should be retired. We learn of Hulda's traumatic childhood, the tragic events surrounding her daughter Dimma, and the truth concerning her much loved husband, Jon, who died suddenly from heart failure some years ago. Against all this trauma and the approach of a lonely retirement looming ever closer "Retirement was something Hulda had never mentally prepared for.".....she meet Petur a retired doctor and the hope for future friendship, even love, now seems a possibility. Very soon DI Hulda puts herself in mortal danger as the net on the murderer closes and the events that unfold will stay in the memory of the Icelandic police force for many years to come.

 

This was an astounding tale beautifully told and  has made me appreciate the great contribution that Nordic crime has made over the last few years. Ragnar Jonasson is a very proficient story teller making a simple tale sparkle against the cold Icelandic landscape..."full of hidden volcanic craters and clouds of steam, scarred by the violent forces at work beneath the earth's crust here where Iceland straddled the divide between two continental plates".... I so hoped that Hulda could now find the contentment she so deserved especially as Petur held forth the hand of warmth and friendship. The conclusion of this story was totally unexpected yet brilliantly executed, to reveal more would spoil the enjoyment that awaits you dear reader of my review! Many thanks to the publisher penguin and netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. A fantastic piece of storytelling brilliantly told and highly highly recommended.