The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson (translated by Victoria Cribb) is a gripping crime novel set in Iceland, in and around Reykjavik. Ragnar Jónasson has a great talent for transporting his readers to Iceland, using the weather and landscape to set the scene, and this book does not disappoint. His protagonist Hulda is a 64-year-old detective who has suffered from sexism within the force throughout her career, and is now being pushed out ahead of retirement to make way for younger men to come up through the ranks. This allows Jónasson to tackle a lot of issues in the book, and although there were times I wanted to shake the book as I was so mad at the male characters (and occasionally the female ones too!) I took this as a sign of how well he had brought them all to life.
Hulda has suffered a lot over the years and it was great to see her develop as a character (and to see Jónasson write a character so different from Ari Thor in his ‘Dark Iceland’ series). I did feel that there were quite a few revelations towards the end in a fairly short space of time, which perhaps didn’t quite give each one enough time to settle and have the greatest possible impact, but I loved the way Jónasson keeps readers guessing until the very final page, and I didn’t see the ending coming at all! All in all, it’s a fast-paced, exciting and atmospheric novel and I would definitely recommend it to lovers of Scandi/Icelandic noir. I’ve enjoyed Jónasson’s previous books and look forward to reading more!
Published by Michael Joseph, 2018