Translated from the Icelandic by Victoris Cribb
Publisher: Minotaur Books (October, 2018)
Kindle edition: $14.99
*** This book will be released in paperback, October 15, 2019 ($16.99) and is available for pre-order at online book sources.***
Hidden Iceland series (Book 1 of 2)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir knows retirement is on the horizon, but she’s not looking forward to it. Her career is her life; aside from her solitary hikes she has nothing else to fill her life. She thinks she still has a few months to go, but her boss tells her something different. He has picked a younger, male officer to take over her position and assigned all her open cases to others. If he expects her to be gracious about taking early retirement he is dead wrong. She’d had to battle the Old Boys Club since she first joined the Reykjavik Police Force, and she’s furious that she’s being kicked out.
Her arguments do not move the boss at all, but he throws her a very small bone. For the next two weeks she can open a cold case of her choice and do whatever she wants to do with it. She knows the very one. A little more than a year ago a young Russian asylum seeker was found dead in an isolated coastal area. The verdict was suicide by drowning, case closed. Her concern is that the CIA officer who investigated her case is known to be lazy, taking short cuts to get it over and done with. His case notes are sloppy and incomplete. There was little media attention. She was just an asylum seeker who would not be missed.
Hulda feels an affinity for the poor Elena, who came to this country to find a better life and instead found a watery grave. It doesn’t take long for her to find out there is much more to the girl’s death. She sets out determinedly to track down every lead, follow every trail, no matter how dangerous it might be.
Alternating chapters go back in time to tell the story of a young, unmarried woman who’s been forced to give up her daughter. At first it’s unclear who the two are or what their relation is to Hulda, but their identities are slowly, poignantly revealed.
THE DARKNESS is one hell of a thriller, cold and deep and gloomy as the Icelandic weather. The ending is shocking, unexpected, and perfect. The plotting is exquisite; the characters are so realistic they almost jump off the page. This novel is the first in a new trilogy, Hidden Iceland. The author has also written SNOWBLIND, NIGHTBLIND, and BLACKOUT in the Ari Thór thriller series. He has also translated fourteen Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. The reader might just see a hint of Agatha in this spellbinding thriller. Highly recommended.
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