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Spanning the icy streets of Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands and cold, isolated fjords, The Darkness is an atmospheric thriller from Ragnar Jonasson, one of the most exciting names in Nordic Noir. The body of a young Russian woman washes up on an Icelandic shore. After a cursory investigation, the death is declared a suicide and the case is quietly closed. Over a year Spanning the icy streets of Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands and cold, isolated fjords, The Darkness is an atmospheric thriller from Ragnar Jonasson, one of the most exciting names in Nordic Noir. The body of a young Russian woman washes up on an Icelandic shore. After a cursory investigation, the death is declared a suicide and the case is quietly closed. Over a year later Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir of the Reykjavík police is forced into early retirement at 64. She dreads the loneliness, and the memories of her dark past that threaten to come back to haunt her. But before she leaves she is given two weeks to solve a single cold case of her choice. She knows which one: the Russian woman whose hope for asylum ended on the dark, cold shore of an unfamiliar country. Soon Hulda discovers that another young woman vanished at the same time, and that no one is telling her the whole story. Even her colleagues in the police seem determined to put the brakes on her investigation. Meanwhile the clock is ticking. Hulda will find the killer, even if it means putting her own life in danger.


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Spanning the icy streets of Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands and cold, isolated fjords, The Darkness is an atmospheric thriller from Ragnar Jonasson, one of the most exciting names in Nordic Noir. The body of a young Russian woman washes up on an Icelandic shore. After a cursory investigation, the death is declared a suicide and the case is quietly closed. Over a year Spanning the icy streets of Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands and cold, isolated fjords, The Darkness is an atmospheric thriller from Ragnar Jonasson, one of the most exciting names in Nordic Noir. The body of a young Russian woman washes up on an Icelandic shore. After a cursory investigation, the death is declared a suicide and the case is quietly closed. Over a year later Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir of the Reykjavík police is forced into early retirement at 64. She dreads the loneliness, and the memories of her dark past that threaten to come back to haunt her. But before she leaves she is given two weeks to solve a single cold case of her choice. She knows which one: the Russian woman whose hope for asylum ended on the dark, cold shore of an unfamiliar country. Soon Hulda discovers that another young woman vanished at the same time, and that no one is telling her the whole story. Even her colleagues in the police seem determined to put the brakes on her investigation. Meanwhile the clock is ticking. Hulda will find the killer, even if it means putting her own life in danger.

30 review for Dimma

  1. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir of the Iceland police, is 64 years old and soon to retire, but as far as her boss is concerned she may as well go now - he's got a much younger person lined up for her job, and he's male, which just about sums up Hulda's career - never 'one of the boys' quite literally, she's always been treated with derision by her colleagues. So she'll be overjoyed with the prospect of retirement won't she? No, not in the least, it's what gets her out of bed in the Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir of the Iceland police, is 64 years old and soon to retire, but as far as her boss is concerned she may as well go now - he's got a much younger person lined up for her job, and he's male, which just about sums up Hulda's career - never 'one of the boys' quite literally, she's always been treated with derision by her colleagues. So she'll be overjoyed with the prospect of retirement won't she? No, not in the least, it's what gets her out of bed in the morning, what gets her adrenalin going. However, before she hands in her badge for good, her boss agrees to let her take on one more case - a cold case involving a young female Russian immigrant who was found dead a year ago. Hulda believes her colleague Alexander didn't put much effort into this case, preferring to dismiss it as suicide - Hulda believes there was more to it than that, and is determined to get justice for this girl. I'd heard great things about this author, so I was excited to read The Darkness. Alas it didn't quite live up to expectations for me. It was an ok read, and I really liked Hulda, but I never felt gripped by the storyline, never felt excited to get back to it. * Thank you to Netgalley, Penguin UK-Michael Joseph for my ARC. I have given an honest review in exchange*

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This is Scand-Noir set in Iceland featuring widow and Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir of the Reykajavik Police, 64 years old and approaching retirement with nothing in her life but her job. Her boss, Magnus, is insensitive when he informs her they have someone already lined up for her post, and she can retire at once. Feeling unappreciated and unwanted, Hulda insists on staying, and is told she can work a cold case for two weeks. A shell shocked Hulda knows which case she wants, a This is Scand-Noir set in Iceland featuring widow and Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir of the Reykajavik Police, 64 years old and approaching retirement with nothing in her life but her job. Her boss, Magnus, is insensitive when he informs her they have someone already lined up for her post, and she can retire at once. Feeling unappreciated and unwanted, Hulda insists on staying, and is told she can work a cold case for two weeks. A shell shocked Hulda knows which case she wants, a Russian asylum seeker, Elena, was found dead at a cove just over a year ago. An incompetent colleague, Alexander, barely investigated, ruling Elena's death a suicide. Hulda considers getting closer to Petar, a retired doctor, to ease her loneliness, she literally has no-one, not even a friend. She loved her husband, Jon, but knows she does not have it in her to love anyone else as she loved him. Jonasson gives us a multi-layered story of darkness everywhere, in the geography and financial crash of Iceland, the glimpse of her childhood and the future that Hulda faces, and the case of Elena and what turns out to be the disappearance of another Russian woman, Katja. The story takes Hulda, a woman who has been overlooked and experienced difficulty working with and gelling with her police colleagues, and gives us her introspective view of her life and the world. She is hugely claustrophobic, affected by dark enclosed spaces after her grandmother used to lock her up as a child. The only bright spot is that she begins to finds some comfort in her developing relationship with Petar and the promise that it holds. However, the case is difficult and complex, and Hulda inadvertantly wrecks an covert police operation involving a people and sex trafficker which brings the wrath of Magnus on her head. This is compounded by Hulda's actions with a hit and run driver who targets a paedophile. Hulda's life begins to spiral out of control when a confident and skilled murderer awakens and begins to feel that Hulda is getting too close to the truth. Jonasson writes a crime story with strong psychological elements and twists. He gives us several threads, the Elena investigation, a mother experiencing severe obstacles in bringing up an illegitimate child after a one night stand with an American, and a woman who feels pushed into going out with a man on an dangerous outdoor adventure in the barren and dangerous Icelandic landscape, feeling completely out of her comfort zone. There are instances where the reader is made to feel that Hulda is an unreliable narrator, and we learn that her marriage is not what we are led to believe, holding its own darkness. All in all, this is a great and entertaining read, it was not what I expected it to be and the ending comes out of the blue. A dark tale for those who enjoy reading Scandinavian Crime. Many thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph for an ARC.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    The first in a new series, features Hulga, a police detective who at the age of sixty four, will within months be retiring. Yet, she is far from ready for retirement, the though of being alone with nothing to do fills her with dread. When her boss tells her he has already hired someone to take over her cases, that she should clean out her office and start her retirement early, she refuses. To pacify her he tells her to pick out a cold case and she can work on it for a few weeks. The case she The first in a new series, features Hulga, a police detective who at the age of sixty four, will within months be retiring. Yet, she is far from ready for retirement, the though of being alone with nothing to do fills her with dread. When her boss tells her he has already hired someone to take over her cases, that she should clean out her office and start her retirement early, she refuses. To pacify her he tells her to pick out a cold case and she can work on it for a few weeks. The case she chooses is that of a young woman, an asylum seeker, whose death has been classified as a suicide. I like that author are showing older woman in positions of power, refusing to give in nor give up. There is a poignant back story to Hulgas life, and explains how she came to be alone. My favorite thing this author does is the atmosphere created. One feels the cold, the ice, the gusts of wind, of winter in Iceland. It permeates the story, adding to it by bringing the reader into environment. Three separate threads, give us a personal look into the young life of Hulga, and of a young woman trudging through the snow. These threads connect and build on the story, personally and case wise. A strong start to what I believe will be another fantastic Nordic series. ARC from Netgalley.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    Hidden Iceland #1, The Darkness, is the 2nd series I have started reading by Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson. His other series, Dark Iceland, is also quite enjoyable. Both series take place in the stark, unforgiving environment of Iceland and are very entertaining for those that like dark thrillers. The Darkness introduces Hulda Hermannsdottir, a Detective Inspector with the Reykjavik police. Hulda is 64 years old and due for retirement that she is not looking forward to this year. Her life is Hidden Iceland #1, The Darkness, is the 2nd series I have started reading by Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson. His other series, Dark Iceland, is also quite enjoyable. Both series take place in the stark, unforgiving environment of Iceland and are very entertaining for those that like dark thrillers. The Darkness introduces Hulda Hermannsdottir, a Detective Inspector with the Reykjavik police. Hulda is 64 years old and due for retirement that she is not looking forward to this year. Her life is all about work. Her family is gone, but she does have one friend she sees on occasion. Unfortunately, her idiot of a boss, Magnus, decides to tell her to pack it up early with a 2 week notice. Hulda is horrified. Magnus relents and allows her to stay for the 2 weeks and work a cold case. Hulda picks a 1 year old murder case of a young female asylum seeker that was botched by one of her incompetent male colleagues. The case, however, gets her in a lot of trouble from different angles. The ending is very shocking and leaves a lot open concerning Hulda’s past. The Darkness is a good start to a new series and has all the makings of being as good as Jonasson’s other series. I plan on continuing to read about Hulda’s adventures. 3.5 out of 5 stars Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Ragnar Jonasson for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Publication date - October 16, 2018

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    I’m 3.5 stars If you’ve read this author’s Dark Iceland series, take note. This has a decidedly darker, moodier tone with a completely different MC. DI Hulda Hermannsdóttir has been dreading retirement but thought she had some time to get used to the idea. That changes when her boss announces he is replacing her with a shiny, young “high achiever”. In 2 weeks. She has a couple of choices. She can leave immediately or use her remaining time to take a fresh look at a cold case. The thought of I’m 3.5 stars If you’ve read this author’s Dark Iceland series, take note. This has a decidedly darker, moodier tone with a completely different MC. DI Hulda Hermannsdóttir has been dreading retirement but thought she had some time to get used to the idea. That changes when her boss announces he is replacing her with a shiny, young “high achiever”. In 2 weeks. She has a couple of choices. She can leave immediately or use her remaining time to take a fresh look at a cold case. The thought of endless days alone in her tiny flat holds no appeal so Hulda quickly picks up a shelved investigation into the death of a young Russian woman. In alternate chapters, we follow a young woman who gives birth to a daughter in 1948. Shamed by her family, she has no choice but to temporarily relinquish custody while she struggles to build a life for herself. The story of her relationship with her daughter gradually unfolds to reveal its link to the present. This is a quick, easy read with an interesting MC. There are not many 65 year old female detectives out there & I enjoyed the perspective her maturity & life experience brought to the story. She also has a potential love interest after being widowed for many years. With retirement looming, Hulda spends time reflecting on her life & we learn about her marriage & early years as a cop. That’s how her secret is revealed. And it’s a whopper. Make no mistake, Hulda is not the fuzzy grandmotherly type. When she joined the force, women were scarce & despite her high clearance rate, she watched one man after another get the promotions she deserved. It’s left a bitter taste in her mouth & the ageism that’s developed in recent years hasn’t helped. The cold case heads off in directions no one could have predicted & Hulda meets her fair share of dodgy characters. I was clipping along wondering how it would all play out & thinking this was a solid 3 star read. Then I reached the end. Wait…what? Well, that was not on my radar. So I added points for taking the road less travelled. It was an unexpected & risky finish for book #1 in a series.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Miriam Smith

    "The Darkness" by Ragnar Jonasson is the first in the 'Hidden Iceland' series which sadly I found quite flat and with a rather bland and whingeing female protagonist, Hulda Hermannsdóttir. Considering the author is an already an established best selling writer of the excellent "Dark Iceland" series featuring policeman Ari Thor, I thought that this was a very poor relation to them. The story was generally uninspiring, although as the book went on I did get into it slightly more and I was curious "The Darkness" by Ragnar Jonasson is the first in the 'Hidden Iceland' series which sadly I found quite flat and with a rather bland and whingeing female protagonist, Hulda Hermannsdóttir. Considering the author is an already an established best selling writer of the excellent "Dark Iceland" series featuring policeman Ari Thor, I thought that this was a very poor relation to them. The story was generally uninspiring, although as the book went on I did get into it slightly more and I was curious enough to want to see it through to the end. The interspersed chapters featuring Hulda's childhood years and the events leading up to what happened with Elena, did make it a little more interesting and the ending was very unexpected. The subject matter however was not to my liking. Having read one of the author's previous novels, which I thought was fantastic, atmospheric and haunting it immediately gave me the desire to visit Iceland immediately. However, I felt the descriptions of Iceland in this book were drab, dreary, bleak and very unattractive and gave me no interest to visit at all. The premise of the planned trilogy told backwards with the last story published first does make for an interesting scenario, however, sadly it's a series I may not be keen to pursue. I will though read more by this author but it will be his previous more intriguing and better written series. 2.5 stars

  7. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    What a fabulous start to a series. I had never read anything by Ragnar Jonasson before, so I loved the idea of reading the first book in a brand new series. I was taken by Hulda from the first page. One of the first things we learn about her is she has her own sense of ethics. She’s a competent DI who has been continually passed over for promotion just because she’s an older woman. As one of the invisible masses of older women, I totally understood. She is literally given her walking papers What a fabulous start to a series. I had never read anything by Ragnar Jonasson before, so I loved the idea of reading the first book in a brand new series. I was taken by Hulda from the first page. One of the first things we learn about her is she has her own sense of ethics. She’s a competent DI who has been continually passed over for promotion just because she’s an older woman. As one of the invisible masses of older women, I totally understood. She is literally given her walking papers months before she’s due to retire because they've hired some young wunderkin. She fights for two more weeks and undertakes a cold case to fill that time as all her existing cases had been re-assigned. The writing here isn’t lush. It’s as pragmatic as Hulda is. The book moves at a fast clip. The current story is interlaced with chapters concerning Hilda’s childhood, which give you a good idea of why she turned out as prickly and hands off as she is. This one keeps you engaged and then that ending! My thanks to netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Louise Wilson

    At the age of sixty-four, Detective inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir of the Reykjavik Police is about to take on her last case before she retires. A young woman, an asylum seeker from Russia, found murdered on the seaweed rocks of the Vatnsleysustrand in Iceland. When Hulda starts to ask questions, it isn't long before she realises that no one can be trusted, and that no one is telling the whole truth. By the end of this book I felt I had been and seen the Islandic landscape. I do prefer a book At the age of sixty-four, Detective inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir of the Reykjavik Police is about to take on her last case before she retires. A young woman, an asylum seeker from Russia, found murdered on the seaweed rocks of the Vatnsleysustrand in Iceland. When Hulda starts to ask questions, it isn't long before she realises that no one can be trusted, and that no one is telling the whole truth. By the end of this book I felt I had been and seen the Islandic landscape. I do prefer a book that has a bit more twists and grit to it though. The ending I did not see coming and I was surprised to find I was finished the book. I did enjoy this story I would like to thank NetGalley, Penguin UK - Michael Joseph for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Worst. Ending. Ever!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Worst. Ending. Ever! 2 of 10 stars

  11. 5 out of 5

    Margitte

    Call it a revenge rating. I was never so magnificently angry with an ending than with this book. Excellent writing, gripping, Scandinavian noir. Alas, the first book in a series with a blunt cliffhanger ending. I will change my rating whenever I've read the second book - if ever.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    Simplistic and obvious, this is a disappointing offering from Jonasson. Soon to be retired police detective, Hulda, is being ousted early to make way for the young, male new blood in the department. This cold case is her last moment of investigative glory, except it doesn't quite work out for her, or for the reader. If this is the start of a new series, it's a really bad one: both the writing and the plot are flat, while the whiny main character is hardly the type you want to spend time with. I Simplistic and obvious, this is a disappointing offering from Jonasson. Soon to be retired police detective, Hulda, is being ousted early to make way for the young, male new blood in the department. This cold case is her last moment of investigative glory, except it doesn't quite work out for her, or for the reader. If this is the start of a new series, it's a really bad one: both the writing and the plot are flat, while the whiny main character is hardly the type you want to spend time with. I certainly won't be reading any more. ARC via Netgalley.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    A really enjoyable quick read and excellently translated too as the story flowed really well. The central character was DI Hulda Hermannsdottir who was 64 and being forced to retire before she wished to do so. She was reluctantly given two weeks on cold cases before packing up her belongings and leaving HQ and chose to investigate the supposed suicide of Elena, a Russian asylum seeker. The original case was mishandled in Hulda’s opinion (and if spellcheck changes that to Hilda one more time A really enjoyable quick read and excellently translated too as the story flowed really well. The central character was DI Hulda Hermannsdottir who was 64 and being forced to retire before she wished to do so. She was reluctantly given two weeks on cold cases before packing up her belongings and leaving HQ and chose to investigate the supposed suicide of Elena, a Russian asylum seeker. The original case was mishandled in Hulda’s opinion (and if spellcheck changes that to Hilda one more time ......🥴). I liked Hulda as she was dogged, determined and very human! She made mistakes but she made them because she had empathy and was kind. This stalled her career although part of the point was women and glass ceilings. Her life had not been easy either as we learn as the story progressed. I loved the Icelandic setting which having recently loved a series shown on BBC4 (Trapped) I was able to picture clearly! Although I guessed the perpetrator of the crimes under investigation it did not spoil the enjoyment and the end was certainly surprising. I didn’t see that one coming! I’ll definitely read the rest of the series.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alice-Elizabeth (marriedtobooks)

    I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley, all thoughts are my own! T/W- Mentions of suicide, mentions of sexual abuse, corpses The first book in a planned Nordic noir trilogy, The Darkness looked promising from the email I got sent promoting the novel. It follows a detective about to retire in Iceland and working on her final case: The unsolved murder of a young Russian girl, deemed first to be a suicide but now with suspicions of foul play. Hulda Hermannsdottir, the detective, I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley, all thoughts are my own! T/W- Mentions of suicide, mentions of sexual abuse, corpses The first book in a planned Nordic noir trilogy, The Darkness looked promising from the email I got sent promoting the novel. It follows a detective about to retire in Iceland and working on her final case: The unsolved murder of a young Russian girl, deemed first to be a suicide but now with suspicions of foul play. Hulda Hermannsdottir, the detective, finds her work cut out in her efforts to discover the truth. I loved the world-building throughout this novel however, I struggled with character connection. There was also a lot of back story that I felt dragged the pacing which I wasn't too keen on. The novel is translated from its original Icelandic to English for the first time which is always exciting. Personally, I was left disappointed even though the story didn't end on a cliffhanger. I still want to go to Iceland one day!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    Really really enjoyed this first book in a new series from Ragnar Jonasson, a tense mystery, the trademark chilly Iceland setting and a different way of doing things as the next two books will cover events from years earlier. So in a way The Darkness is an ending. A very good one! Hulda was an intriguing character, I'm looking forward to reading about her younger years, I believe the cases we'll see in the future books may have been teased here - but The Darkness is complete in and of itself. Really really enjoyed this first book in a new series from Ragnar Jonasson, a tense mystery, the trademark chilly Iceland setting and a different way of doing things as the next two books will cover events from years earlier. So in a way The Darkness is an ending. A very good one! Hulda was an intriguing character, I'm looking forward to reading about her younger years, I believe the cases we'll see in the future books may have been teased here - but The Darkness is complete in and of itself. Yep. Very good. Fuller review to follow.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Janel

    Surely, you’ve all read a book that gives you a taste of the end at the beginning, and experienced that need to know what happened – how did these events come to be? Well, image that happening with an entire series. Actually, you don’t even have to imagine because that’s exactly what Jónasson has done with his Hidden Iceland series – The Darkness is the first book in this Nordic noir series, featuring Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir, and the next books in this series will take place Surely, you’ve all read a book that gives you a taste of the end at the beginning, and experienced that need to know what happened – how did these events come to be? Well, image that happening with an entire series. Actually, you don’t even have to imagine because that’s exactly what Jónasson has done with his Hidden Iceland series – The Darkness is the first book in this Nordic noir series, featuring Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir, and the next books in this series will take place decades earlier. So, while you are reading this novel getting to know Hulda, you’re also curious about her life before we meet her. While this intrigue is there, The Darkness is a great novel in itself, and you’re left wanting more – not because this novel isn’t wrapped up but because you can already foresee how clever this series is going to be. We first meet Hulda as she’s reaching retirement – it was a nice change to meet a detective at the end of their career rather than at the beginning, the knowledge and expertise is already there; so, when Hulda chooses a cold case to investigate, you know she’s a one-woman team up to the task. The mystery in this case is simpler than in other crime novels I’ve read, but it made for engaging reading. You slowly warm to Hulda, even though her colleagues don’t appear to have, and you hope her last case is one she can solve, because no one wants to be haunted by an unsolved case when they’re retiring. The Darkness is a quick read, a novel that can be read in one-sitting and would appeal to fans of classic crime fiction. All the Nordic Noir feels are there, the cold Icelandic landscape creating that eerie atmosphere. Jónasson has a fluid and easily accessible writing style, so while I could not pronounce Reykjavík (or any of the other areas mentioned), it didn’t matter because I was easily able to transport myself to the location and experience it first-hand. This is definitely a book that gets better with every page you turn, I won’t give anything away, I’ll just say, I thought the ending was brilliant! I can’t wait to return to this series, book 2 is set a decade earlier, and I’m looking forward to seeing how those events feed into what we already know. And as always, I’m grateful to Victoria Cribb, for translating this novel from the Icelandic so I could read it and become Jónasson’s newest fan! *My thanks to Michael Joseph (Penguin Random House) for providing me with a copy of this novel*

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty ❤️

    I was drawn to this as it has a female lead detective but also because of her age. I've read a lot of crime but there are many crime authors I've still to read so I'm not aware of too many older female detectives (Vera Stanhope is one that springs to mind) and by older I mean 55+. The age and imminent retirement gave me a little something different to read than your standard thrillers. I was intrigued as this is Book 1 by how the series would continue after Hulda's retirement. Now having read I was drawn to this as it has a female lead detective but also because of her age. I've read a lot of crime but there are many crime authors I've still to read so I'm not aware of too many older female detectives (Vera Stanhope is one that springs to mind) and by older I mean 55+. The age and imminent retirement gave me a little something different to read than your standard thrillers. I was intrigued as this is Book 1 by how the series would continue after Hulda's retirement. Now having read the shock twisty ending I really, really am intrigued by what will be the next story.  This is a very fast read. the whole book takes place over three days and the short chapters add to the speed of everything that happens. There are 3 strands to the story; one of Hulda's as she takes on a cold case suicide and discovers a murder instead, the second the point of view of the killer and the third one is Hulda's relationships with her mother, new boyfriend (could you call a 70 year old man a boyfriend??) and her late husband.  I just really enjoyed it and it was great to really get into a book and read it in 24 hours. I haven't done that in a while. I didn't skip any pages, the action is believable and it's jsut a really gripping thriller.  Highly recommended Free arc from netgalley

  18. 5 out of 5

    Meags

    4 Stars The story follows 64 year old Icelandic detective inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir, as she works on one final case before being forced into an unwanted early retirement. With restricted time left to work the case, and with limited assistance and cooperation from the “boys club” of detectives she’s surrounded by in her workplace, Hulda throws herself into solving a year old cold case involving a young dead Russian immigrant named Elena. Everyone believes Elena took her own life, but the more 4 Stars The story follows 64 year old Icelandic detective inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir, as she works on one final case before being forced into an unwanted early retirement. With restricted time left to work the case, and with limited assistance and cooperation from the “boys club” of detectives she’s surrounded by in her workplace, Hulda throws herself into solving a year old cold case involving a young dead Russian immigrant named Elena. Everyone believes Elena took her own life, but the more Hulda digs, the more she believes foul play was likely at hand. Determined to find out the truth and get some much deserved justice for Elena, Hulda reopens the investigation and pulls out all the stops to find out what really happened. Unfortunately, Hulda is met with hostility and contempt at every turn, not only from the people she re-interviews for the case, but also from her colleagues and superiors, who believe she’s on a wild goose chase. In the end, Hulda is on her own as the final hours count down before she’s no longer in a position to solve the murder no one else even believes transpired. As far as reading my first Nordic Noir story is concerned, this was a positive and enjoyable experience. I particularly loved the atmospheric and remarkable Icelandic landscape presented by Jónasson. I also appreciated the unpretentious twists and turns which unfolded throughout this story. It wasn’t a ground-breaking crime-mystery by any means, but it was well-written, with a cast of complex, if often disagreeable characters, and with an engaging plot that kept me glued to the page. My only real issue with the story related to some of the behaviour and actions of the players involved. As professional investigators, I just felt these people were too pigheaded and unthoughtful at times, including Hulda herself, who often showed her age and her negative attitude through the tactless choices she made during her investigation. Thankfully, her heart was always in the right place so I never became too frustrated by her actions. I must say, though, that it was the ending that ultimately made me rate higher than I maybe would have otherwise. Some readers will hate this ending, but the shock and surprise of it alone had me impressed. I’ll certainly be keeping my eye out for the upcoming English translation of book two.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kate~Bibliophile Book Club

    Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a huge fan of Ragnar Jónasson’s writing, so when I heard we were finally going to meet Hulda Hermansdottir in The Darkness, I jumped at the chance to read it, and I was definitely not disappointed. Hulda is a Detective in the Reykjavik Police, and at sixty-four, is almost ready to retire. When she takes on the last case of her career, Hulda finds out that all is not what it seems. The case, a cold case, involved a young woman seeking asylum from Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a huge fan of Ragnar Jónasson’s writing, so when I heard we were finally going to meet Hulda Hermansdottir in The Darkness, I jumped at the chance to read it, and I was definitely not disappointed. Hulda is a Detective in the Reykjavik Police, and at sixty-four, is almost ready to retire. When she takes on the last case of her career, Hulda finds out that all is not what it seems. The case, a cold case, involved a young woman seeking asylum from Russia, who was found murdered on an isolated beach in Vatnsleysuströnd. Hulda thinks that if she can solve this one last case, she’ll go out on a high as she finishes her career, but life is never really that easy. The Darkness is another fine example of Ragnar Jónasson’s ability to transfer the chilling Icelandic landscape into a character in the book. Unforgiving, dark and more than a little unsettling, I found myself thinking it sounds like a very harsh place to live. But I could easily conjure up the images he created. Speaking of character, I really enjoyed reading about Hulda. It seems she is a little misunderstood by her colleagues, but when you get a glimpse into her thought processes you see she is lovely, just a bit standoffish. Her gruff demeanour does little to endear her to many of the people around her, but I warmed to her immediately. By the end of the book, I genuinely didn’t want to have to turn that last page, so I’m really glad this is only the beginning. Or the end, because the books are going in reverse order. To sum up, for me, The Darkness was a haunting portrait of the Icelandic landscape, with brilliantly drawn characters and a thoroughly chilling plot. It takes the reader on an unexpected journey, and I loved every minute of it. Highly recommended, as always!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    This first book in a new series from Ragnar Jonasson features Huldu Hermansdottir, a police inspector nearing mandatory retirement, and resenting that fact. As the story opens, Huldu is presented with a new, unwelcome “gift” from her boss. She no longer has one more year of work. Her replacement is available now and will need her office very soon. She can begin her retirement early, with pay of course. For a woman whose refuge has been work, who dreads time alone, this amounts to a curse. So This first book in a new series from Ragnar Jonasson features Huldu Hermansdottir, a police inspector nearing mandatory retirement, and resenting that fact. As the story opens, Huldu is presented with a new, unwelcome “gift” from her boss. She no longer has one more year of work. Her replacement is available now and will need her office very soon. She can begin her retirement early, with pay of course. For a woman whose refuge has been work, who dreads time alone, this amounts to a curse. So Huldu works on one last case, a fairly cold case, the death of an asylum-seeker from Russia found on the shore a year ago. As the novel advances, we learn about Huldu’s life, family, her feelings about her time with the police and her mostly male colleagues. There also are stories told in alternating chapters that fit into both Huldu’s and the crime story. (Those who dislike this device seen frequently in novels of late, be warned.) Huldu is an interesting woman; at 64, she is in a demographic not often used to lead such a novel. Her fears seemed realistic with an overlay specific to her situation. To say much more is to risk spoiler territory which I want to avoid. The Darkness is the story of a woman at a turning point in her life, trying to right a case left unsolved, trying to decide what she wants and who she is after some major life disappointments. My feelings are a bit mixed about this book, at times firmly in the 4* territory while others saw it more of a 3*. So probably a 3.5* rounded to 4 here. Not quite up to the standard of Jonasson's Dark Iceland series but I will give the next installment a try. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Zoe Mann

    'The Darkness' by Ragnar Jonasson is a heart racing, brain teasing, action packed thriller. With only 263 pages it is full of excitement and suspense. The length of the novel left me wanting but it was perfect in creating and completing such a dangerous and electrifying story. Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir is due to retire. With her replacement joining the force soon and her remaining cases in new hands she is told she can fill her last week by re-examining a cold case of her choice. 'The Darkness' by Ragnar Jonasson is a heart racing, brain teasing, action packed thriller. With only 263 pages it is full of excitement and suspense. The length of the novel left me wanting but it was perfect in creating and completing such a dangerous and electrifying story. Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir is due to retire. With her replacement joining the force soon and her remaining cases in new hands she is told she can fill her last week by re-examining a cold case of her choice. Hulda has no idea at the time that the suicide case of a Russian asylum seeking will open up a huge can of worms including prostitution, murder and child abuse to name a few. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free copy of 'The Darkness' in return for an honest review. I really hope this become a series as I NEED to know more. Just one more book please!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    4.5 stars rounded up. This is a book that sits within the detective fiction genre but it is far from typical and surprised me by how much I liked it. I have not read many books set in Iceland so this was really interesting and the main character is a woman facing retirement which is also unusual. Out of a fairly standard premise came an exceptional story that I thoroughly enjoyed. I've upped my rating as several days later I'm thinking about the strengths of this book and I'm eager to read more 4.5 stars rounded up. This is a book that sits within the detective fiction genre but it is far from typical and surprised me by how much I liked it. I have not read many books set in Iceland so this was really interesting and the main character is a woman facing retirement which is also unusual. Out of a fairly standard premise came an exceptional story that I thoroughly enjoyed. I've upped my rating as several days later I'm thinking about the strengths of this book and I'm eager to read more from this author. (On audible UK the book is called The Darkness aka Dimma in Icelandic)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Robertson

    This book has just shot onto my top books of the year list and I’m now desperate to read the next two books in the series! Why oh why did I not learn Icelandic at school instead of French!!?? Then I would have been able to move onto the second book straight away! But alas I will just have to await the English translation, which was seamless here can I just add?! I was a huge fan of the Dark Iceland series by Ragnar Jónasson, featuring his detective Ari Thor, so was delighted but slightly This book has just shot onto my top books of the year list and I’m now desperate to read the next two books in the series! Why oh why did I not learn Icelandic at school instead of French!!?? Then I would have been able to move onto the second book straight away! But alas I will just have to await the English translation, which was seamless here can I just add?! I was a huge fan of the Dark Iceland series by Ragnar Jónasson, featuring his detective Ari Thor, so was delighted but slightly apprehensive when I heard about this new Hidden Iceland series. But I wasn’t disappointed here-this new detective creation really worked for me! Hulda is a 64 year old Detective Inspector working for the Reykjavik police department. But the department are bringing in a much younger hotshot male detective to replace her and have asked her to bring forward her retirement. Hulda tries to resist but knows her days are numbered. As a compromise, she is allowed to take on a cold case mainly to keep her out of the way but Hulda gets completely involved in her new case, stepping on a few toes along the way. Now I’m a huge fan of using older women characters, especially in crime fiction, and the thoughts and feelings that Ragnar brought to life in Hulda perfectly reflected those of a woman working in a male dominated field, feeling passed her shelf life and discarded for the newest upgrade. But I was so pleased that she didn’t slink off into the oblivion of retirement instead she prepared to leave on a high, solving a case that has been as swept under the carpet as she herself has been. Having recently attended a course about Attachment Disorder, I was fascinated by the flashback chapters told by a mother desperate to be with her child and how that affected their own developing relationship and their connection to others. It was quite horrific and incredibly emotional in places but I found it essential in the understanding of what made certain characters tick especially when there were further revelations made about their lives. And on that note I have to add that it’s a wonderfully intriguing idea to work backwards for the next two books and meet Hulda in her younger days, professionally and in her private life. Whilst Hulda isn’t always a particularly personable character, I still found myself warming to her far more than expected as the plot slowly gathered momentum and I’m intrigued to find out what my reaction will be to her younger self. For me the ending of The Darkness was a complete showstopper – unexpected, shocking and powerfully affecting. Yes, I sobbed my eyes out when I finished it and felt drained by the emotional rollercoaster I had been riding on. Hulda is a character creation I won’t forget in a hurry and Ragnar Jónasson has placed her in a socially relevant setting which reflected her attitude perfectly. Visiting Iceland is now on my “bucket list” and Ragnar Jónasson is single handily responsible for that! His descriptions of the cold, desolate but chillingly beautiful landscape have always been a beacon for my love affair with Nordic Noir, guiding me towards some of the best fictional detectives I have ever encountered. Absolutely stunning!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Mann

    'The Darkness' by Ragnar Jonasson is a heart racing, brain teasing, action packed thriller. With only 263 pages it is full of excitement and suspense. The length of the novel left me wanting but it was perfect in creating and completing such a dangerous and electrifying story. Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir is due to retire. With her replacement joining the force soon and her remaining cases in new hands she is told she can fill her last week by re-examining a cold case of her choice. 'The Darkness' by Ragnar Jonasson is a heart racing, brain teasing, action packed thriller. With only 263 pages it is full of excitement and suspense. The length of the novel left me wanting but it was perfect in creating and completing such a dangerous and electrifying story. Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir is due to retire. With her replacement joining the force soon and her remaining cases in new hands she is told she can fill her last week by re-examining a cold case of her choice. Hulda has no idea at the time that the suicide case of a Russian asylum seeking will open up a huge can of worms including prostitution, murder and child abuse to name a few. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free copy of 'The Darkness' in return for an honest review. I really hope this become a series as I NEED to know more. Just one more book please!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Curie

    The Darkness is a textbook crime novel, for better or worse. During the dark and cold months of Iceland, we meet Hulda Hermannsdóttir, a detective inspector who is about to take on her last case before retirement. A young woman, an asylum seeker from Russia, found murdered on the shores. It doesn't take long for Hulda to realise that there is more to the cold case than meets the eye and that not everyone is telling the whole truth. A Place Full of Bleakness I have a personal fascination with The Darkness is a textbook crime novel, for better or worse. During the dark and cold months of Iceland, we meet Hulda Hermannsdóttir, a detective inspector who is about to take on her last case before retirement. A young woman, an asylum seeker from Russia, found murdered on the shores. It doesn't take long for Hulda to realise that there is more to the cold case than meets the eye and that not everyone is telling the whole truth. A Place Full of Bleakness I have a personal fascination with Iceland as a place and culture, having learned the language for multiple years. This was my first encounter with Ragnar Jónasson and I approached it with a fair portion of excitement. The Darkness turned out to be a simple and satisfying read, that however didn't manage to surprise me. The language is not the most sophisticated, but clear and precise. The narrative has some surprises to offer, but all of them unfold in such a linear and step-by-step manner that I never felt fully gripped by the crime aspects of the story. The true gem of this story is the story of Hulda - a woman who lost both her husband and daughter and who, at the age of 64, has a fear of being lonely and dying on her own. It's a touching and relatable fear and set against the backdrop of such a cold place it ended up being an atmospheric winter read. Ultimately I felt well entertained, but wasn't left with the desire for more, either.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    A powerful crime mystery beautifully translated by the talented Victoria Cribb. Ragnar Jónasson has turned a police procedural on its head by introducing us to Hulda Hermannsdóttir a strong female detective held back by her gender but no longer as she is due to retire. Rather than jump as soon as her leaving is brought forward and offered without any loss of benefits. Ever the professional Hulda takes they last two weeks to look at a cold case. The suicide of a young Russian asylum seeker does not A powerful crime mystery beautifully translated by the talented Victoria Cribb. Ragnar Jónasson has turned a police procedural on its head by introducing us to Hulda Hermannsdóttir a strong female detective held back by her gender but no longer as she is due to retire. Rather than jump as soon as her leaving is brought forward and offered without any loss of benefits. Ever the professional Hulda takes they last two weeks to look at a cold case. The suicide of a young Russian asylum seeker does not sit comfortably with Hulda. She turns up a great deal of new evidence and feels she might re-open the enquiry as she feels it could have been a murder. Trouble is she only has 3 days to solve the mystery. Many authors in this genre write a series around an original character. Their last thought is retirement but others have tried to carry on never the less or gone back into their early police careers. Here we have a whirlwind of a novel encompassing almost the whole life of Hulda as the author tries to take the new start retirement offers to reflect on a career and make new plans for hobbies and a less stressful life. Jónasson in approaching a novel in this way informs his readers of a former way of life in Iceland and uses its topography and history to its full effect. In presenting his detective with an opportunity to save a woman from jail and not uphold the law he brings into focus those things we sometimes are tempted with in our own lives. He challenges what is seen of a person, their public persona and suggests in this quite brilliant book that sometimes things are better unsaid and kept hidden. When a light is shone on darkness we might not like what we see. How colleagues see Hulda at the end of her career can go two ways in this thrilling story. What is our private and public faces? Are they the same? Well I for one was drawn to this strong female character and after the final page is turned and left breathless wanting more and fully won over by all Hulda was in the various stages of her life. Her story is told in such an enthralling and gentle reveal I’m sure all readers will share my opinion of the star of this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marjorie

    Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir is being forced into a slightly earlier retirement, being replaced by a younger person. She dreads her future although she has met a very nice man who she thinks might be an answer to her loneliness. Before she cleans out her desk at the police station, she’s been given an opportunity to look into a cold case of her choice. She knows immediately which case it will be. A young Russian women who was trying to find asylum in Iceland was found dead and her Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir is being forced into a slightly earlier retirement, being replaced by a younger person. She dreads her future although she has met a very nice man who she thinks might be an answer to her loneliness. Before she cleans out her desk at the police station, she’s been given an opportunity to look into a cold case of her choice. She knows immediately which case it will be. A young Russian women who was trying to find asylum in Iceland was found dead and her death was deemed a suicide. However, Hulda knows that the officer who investigated this case didn’t always do a very thorough job and she has a feeling that there was more to this case than he found. I was so very impressed with this book and can’t wait to read everything else this author has written. His characterization of Hulda is excellent and very detailed. This woman has had a successful career as a police officer but hasn’t always been accepted by the men in the department. She’s determined to end her career on a high note by solving this cold case but as each day approaches her retirement, errors are made and her situation deteriorates. She begins to pin her hopes on the man she has recently met and envisions a happier future. I loved Hulda and felt complete empathy for her. Secrets in her past are alluded to, which when revealed are absolutely heartbreaking. Also the story of this Russian immigrant is so timely and tragic. This is the first book in the Hidden Iceland Trilogy. The series is being told in reverse order so the next book will be set 25 years prior to this book. It’s an unusual format for a trilogy and I think I may have preferred reading Hulda’s story in chronological order since now I know how her story ends. But this first book is so brilliantly written that I know I will be anxiously awaiting the next one. This author is one who isn’t afraid of taking risks and definitely knows how to write Nordic Noir. The book is mesmerizing and heart breaking and the ending will chill you to the bone. Most highly recommended. This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Donna Maguire

    https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/... I love this author's books so I was thrilled when a copy of this book arrived on my doorstep from the publishers before Christmas! I loved the descriptive nature of this book, the writing style used really works so well with the setting and you feel really drawn in to the story. I have visited Norway a few times in winter but Iceland still remains up there on my to visit list - even more so after reading this- it is really atmospheric! I loved the plot and https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/... I love this author's books so I was thrilled when a copy of this book arrived on my doorstep from the publishers before Christmas! I loved the descriptive nature of this book, the writing style used really works so well with the setting and you feel really drawn in to the story. I have visited Norway a few times in winter but Iceland still remains up there on my to visit list - even more so after reading this- it is really atmospheric! I loved the plot and the characters were strong and worked really well together and in the story. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars from me for Amazon and Goodreads! A really good start to the new series and I am very much looking forward to reading the next book!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura/Mystery in Minutes

    Highly atmospheric and evocative, with steadily mounting suspense, The Darkness, the first in a new series by Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson, has all of the grim, bleak moodiness typically associated with Nordic Noir, yet leaves the reader with the contented feeling of having read a work of fiction by a crime writer who has matured and honed his craft. I thoroughly enjoyed it! The main character of this new Hidden Iceland series is Hulda Hermannsdottir. Hulda is a Detective Inspector with the Highly atmospheric and evocative, with steadily mounting suspense, The Darkness, the first in a new series by Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson, has all of the grim, bleak moodiness typically associated with Nordic Noir, yet leaves the reader with the contented feeling of having read a work of fiction by a crime writer who has matured and honed his craft. I thoroughly enjoyed it! The main character of this new Hidden Iceland series is Hulda Hermannsdottir. Hulda is a Detective Inspector with the Reykjavik police department. At the beginning of The Darkness, she is notified by her boss that instead of retiring at the end of the year, 64 year old Hulda is being pushed out of the force earlier than planned, made redundant by a younger, male officer who has already been hired, and will take over her office and her job in just two weeks time. Per her boss, she can clear her desk, and leave - with pay, of course - straightaway. Thanks for your decades of service. All of your cases have already been reallocated. Goodbye. But her boss is not putting Hulda out to pasture quite yet. No. At Hulda’s insistence that she stay until her replacement begins, Magnus permits her to look into one, final, cold case of her choosing. The result is Hulda’s reinvigorated sense of purpose, and the reader’s enjoyment of a skillfully-plotted police procedural, with a well-balanced amount of insight into Hulda’s complex and sometimes tragic upbringing and background, as well as a building tension throughout. Readers who are retired, or approaching retirement will especially appreciate, and possibly relate to, much of Hulda’s experience. What an accurate depiction, by a male author (it must be noted), of the yearnings, heartache, and challenges faced, universally, by so many women! The Darkness, expertly-translated by Victoria Cribb, is a Nordic Noir that I could not put down! In Mr. Jonasson’s books, the remote, treacherous, and unforgiving landscape of Iceland often becomes a character in and of itself, and The Darkness is no different, as this vividly atmospheric novel shifts between “the present”, in the spring, with the life-affirming promise of new beginnings and the light and sunshine of the summertime to come, and flashbacks taking place during Iceland’s long, dark, brutally cold winter. Just when the reader is lulled into thinking that The Darkness is going to be all about second chances, Mr. Jonasson throws the reader a major curve ball that couldn’t be more worthy of his novel’s sub-genre of Nordic Noir! The Darkness becomes, well, a lot darker. I happen to be in the camp of readers who believe that The Darkness will always work perfectly well as a standalone. But for those readers who will be left with their mouths hanging open in utter shock, asking themselves, “what did I just read?”, fear not. Mr. Jonasson made the conscious decision to do something that sets Hidden Iceland apart from the majority of series, and something potentially far more challenging for him as a writer: to begin this new series at the end of his main character’s law enforcement career, and then to write the subsequent books as prequels. I love the multi-dimensional character of Hulda Hermannsdottir, and I am very much looking forward to reading about her earlier life experiences in The Island, releasing in the US in May of 2019! Blog | Facebook | Twitter

  30. 5 out of 5

    Crime by the Book

    An atmospheric, chilling, inventive mystery from one of Iceland's brightest talents. If you love Nordic Noir + classic crime, you'll love this book! In this brooding mystery, readers meet protagonist Hulda, a police officer in Iceland, at the end of a lengthy career. Hulda is given the opportunity to tackle one last case before she retires - but the case she chooses might have more far-reaching implications than she could have ever imagined. This is the launch of a trilogy that's told in reverse An atmospheric, chilling, inventive mystery from one of Iceland's brightest talents. If you love Nordic Noir + classic crime, you'll love this book! In this brooding mystery, readers meet protagonist Hulda, a police officer in Iceland, at the end of a lengthy career. Hulda is given the opportunity to tackle one last case before she retires - but the case she chooses might have more far-reaching implications than she could have ever imagined. This is the launch of a trilogy that's told in reverse chronological order! Read my full review on the CBTB blog! http://crimebythebook.com/nordic-noir...

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