The Darkness by Ragnor Jónasson

Coming March 2018

Spanning the icy streets of Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands and cold, isolated fjords, The Darkness is an atmospheric thriller from one of the most exciting names in Nordic Noir.



BOOK #1 IN THE HIDDEN ICELAND SERIES – PENGUIN, MARCH 2018. -Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb.

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. 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.

From the dark streets of Reykjavík to Iceland’s forbidding mountains and isolated fjords, The Darkness is a brooding and bleak tale of a woman risking everything to discover the truth . . .

My thoughts

Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is about to retire a bit sooner than expected or even wanted she is being firmly shown the door by her boss, her current cases have been reassigned, in the time she has left she can investigate any cold case she wants. He’s just placating her but there’s this one case….

It’s the Russian woman, Hulda never thought her colleague did a particularly good job – he rarely does – and no one else seemed to care but Hulda, she does, and she wants to get to the truth.

Hulda is a good detective but last night in what now seems to be her final interview of a suspect in a hit and run case she made a decision…

Hulda starts to investigate the cold case and we begin to learn about her. Her life as a police officer, a wife and mother. We hear her loneliness, her anger, her guilt and maybe a glimmer of hope so that retirement won’t be what she fears.  Hulda is a terrific character and you want her to succeed but she does have a dark side to her.

We are in a rainy late spring in Iceland. It is over twelve months since the Russian woman’s body was found.  Hulda discovers there is another missing woman. Hulda is persistent and thorough but time is not on her side. Then comes a blow which could scupper her investigation but a possible small breakthrough keeps her going.

This is a well written book, nothing less than one might expect from Ragnar Jónasson, the first of the series, oozing with that unique landscape, that particular way of life that comes from such a landscape. Jónasson builds up the story culminating in a tense and quite shocking end.

If you like Nordic Noir you’ll love this one and everyone else should just try it anyway.

With thanks to Michael Joseph Publisher via NetGalley for this eARC in return for an honest opinion.

Rating: 4*


Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Michael Joseph (15 Mar. 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0718187245
ISBN-13: 978-0718187248

Michael Joseph is part of the Penguin Random House group of companies whose addresses can be found at PRH: MichaelJoseph

The HULDA series revolves around female detective Hulda (literally meaning “hidden woman”) and is set in Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands, in an isolated fjord and on one of Iceland’s most picturesque and inaccessible islands. Rights sold to Penguin (Michael Joseph) in the UK, St. Martin’s Press (Minotaur) in the US and Modernista in Sweden.

DIMMA (“DARKNESS”) – BOOK 1 (2015, ICELAND) (2018, UK/US); THE ISLAND – BOOK 2 (2016, ICELAND) (2019, UK/US); THE MIST – BOOK 3 (2017, ICELAND) (2020, UK/US).

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Author: Ragnar Jonasson ( is the Icelandic writer of the Dark Iceland crime series set in Northern Iceland. Snowblind (2015) is the first book in the Dark Iceland series: SNOWBLIND – 2015; NIGHTBLIND – 2015; BLACKOUT – 2016; RUPTURE – 2017; WHITEOUT – 2017 (UK dates). Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, and works as a lawyer in Reykjavik. He is also a teacher at Reykjavik University Law School and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated fourteen of Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. Ragnar is the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir, and has appeard on panels at Crimefest in Bristol, Left Coast Crime in the USA, Bloody Scotland in Stirling and Iceland Noir in Iceland. Ragnar’s short story Death of a Sunflower was published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine January 2014 issue, the first story in the magazine by an Icelandic author. His second Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine story, A Letter to Santa, was published in the January 2015 issue. Ragnar’s short story Party of Two was published in the Crime Writers’ Association 2014 anthology Guilty Parties, edited by Martin Edwards. Ragnar lives in Reykjavik with his wife and daughters. Twitter: @ragnorjo

Translator: Victoria Cribb – a freelance translator of Icelandic literature. Her translations of Icelandic authors published in English include crime novels by Arnaldur Indriðason, The Blue Fox and From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjón, and Stone Tree by Gyrðir Elíasson. She has an MA in Icelandic and Scandinavian Studies from UCL and a BPhil in Icelandic from the University of Iceland, and lived and worked in Reykjavík for a number of years as a publisher, journalist, and translator. She is currently completing a PhD in Old Icelandic at the University of Cambridge.



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