The Island (Hidden Iceland Series #2) by Ragnar Jónasson trans. by Victoria Cribb

Four friends visit the island. But only three return . . .



Book blurb

Elliðaey is an isolated island off the Icelandic coast. It has a beautiful, unforgiving terrain – and an easy place to vanish.

At the peak of her career Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sent to discover what happened when a group of friends visited Elliðaey – but one failed to return.

Could this have links to an incident ten years previously out on the Westfjords? Is there a killer stalking these barren outposts?

Written with Ragnar’s haunting and suspenseful prose The Island follows Hulda’s journey to uncover the island’s secrets and find the truth hidden in its darkest shadows.

My thoughts

The Island is the second book in the Hidden Iceland Series and, having read the first book The Darkness,  I was delighted to receive a copy of The Island from Penguin UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley.

The series is written going back in time from the first book with this second in the series being mainly set in 1997 it also returns to 1987/8. It is very clearly set out what take place and when although the characters are intentionally and necessarily a little more ambiguous within those times. I wasn’t sure whether I like this ‘back to front’ style but I do think it can be an interesting way to handle a story. The story contained within The Island is a really good read. Hulda has a dark tale of her own but I really like her as a character.

We are getting more of Hulda’s personal life her search for her father, which takes her on a trip to the USA, as well as her relationship with her mother, now dead, and how she has been affected by the deaths of her daughter and her husband. Life isn’t easy by herself, with only her nightmares to keep her company.

It is just as she returns from her trip to the US that she gets a call from an officer in the Westman Islands their detective is off sick and they need someone to look at a fatal incident. Hilda decides to go herself and, after travelling to this remote area, seeing the spot where the death happened, speaking with the three young witnesses she is left with a niggling doubt but cannot see that this is anything other than terrible accident. That is until she gets a call from Sæmundur who is about to carry out the post-mortem. It is now clearly a murder investigation.

Hulda is a good detective, thorough, intuitive and with an ability to make connections which lead her to the right resolutions. However, she has been overlooked over the years and her progression has been slower than for officers with less experience like her boss. She assumes it’s because she’s a women and when she began in the Police female officers were not considered as resilient as their male counterparts. Well her record now stands for itself, she has built a reputation for tackling the difficult cases.

The story here is sorting out who did kill and did they kill twice? It’s Hulda being thorough and persistent that gets her the information she needs to work out what happened and why.  She also uncovers some very disreputable, even illegal shenanigans in an old case which had it not happened would have saved so much heartache and loss.

The Icelandic setting is beautifully portrayed and, as is so often the case in Ragnar Jónasson books, plays an intrinsic part to the story. Two remote places, with the island being entirely cut off, enables the tension to build and provides an almost ‘locked room’ scenario.

Once again Ragnar Jónasson has written a dark, satisfying and rather perplexing tale which I am happy to recommend.


Publisher:  Michael Joseph (PenguinRandomHouse)  (4 April 2019)

Buy:            Amazon Smile UK                          Waterstones

Author:     Ragnar Jónasson (PRH)                     Ragnar Jónasson Website

Translator: Victoria Cribb is 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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