The Darkness (Hidden Iceland Series, Book One) by Ragnar Jónasson | Blog tour review

Published by Penguin/Michael Joseph

Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb

Ebook and Hardback (15 March 2018)  |  Paperback (4 October 2018)

350 pages

Source: ARC Review copy


|   About the Book   |


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.

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.


|   My Thoughts   |


Welcome to my turn on the publisher blog tour for The Darkness. The tour has been running since 1st March and its my pleasure to be wrapping it up with the final stop.

Having enjoyed the Dark Iceland series by Ragnar Jónasson, I was very keen to read this and it didn’t disappoint. The main character, Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir, 64 years old and approaching retirement in a few months is told by her boss that her retirement is brought forward and she is being replaced.  To ‘compensate’ for her forced early removal, she is told that she can pick a cold case of her choice and she will be allowed two weeks to investigate.

Hulda picks a case of a young female Russian asylum seeker whose death a year before was swiftly concluded as suicide.  However the further Hulda investigates, she becomes convinced that her colleagues did not carry out a proper investigation and the death is not as clear cut as originally thought.

Hulda as a character was intriguing from the beginning and her inclusion made this is a series I would follow.  I felt much sympathy for her in the way she had been sidelined at work in favour of a younger man pushing through the ranks and her belief that the promotions she felt should have been hers went instead to younger but inexperienced personnel.   She comes across as a complex and somewhat tormented character but when details of her backstory are gradually revealed you can understand why.

I have to be honest and say that Hulda’s early investigations into this particular case didn’t initially excite me but there was something compelling me to keep reading and I am so glad that I did.  Alongside the main story of the investigation there are also different strands, one concerning a mother visiting her young daughter in an institution and another involving an arduous trip to a snowy mountain retreat. These two strands did appear to be rather random but their connection to the main story does become clear.

Those who are familar with Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series will know that the Icelandic landscape forms a character of its own in his books and The Darkness is no exception.  There is an excellent sense of place and just even reading the descriptions of the snowy mountainous landscape made me shiver with cold.

The author has previously translated some of Agatha Christie’s work to Icelandic and for me there was a definite nod to the style of the classic mystery in this book. For me the slower pace worked perfectly and allowed me to savour the building of Hulda’s character and the gentle reveal to her backstory whilst trying to figure out who may have been guilty of a crime.

From being a fairly sedate crime thriller for much of the story, this turned into something that I really wasn’t expecting.  I don’t want to say much about the ending but fair play to the author; he had me in knots and I was completely blindsided.

The translation by Victoria Cribb was excellent; the story flowed perfectly and I was so drawn in that I completely forgot that I was reading a translated novel.

The next two books in the series are in reverse chronological order and feature the younger Hulda. However fans of the series will have to be patient.  Book #2 The Island is due to be published in the UK/US in 2019 and Book #3 The Mist in 2020 (UK/US)

My thanks to Laura Nicol and the publisher for the ARC paperback to review and for the invitation to take part in the blog tour.



|   Author Bio   |


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. 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.



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2 thoughts on “The Darkness (Hidden Iceland Series, Book One) by Ragnar Jónasson | Blog tour review”

  • I felt quite bereft at the end, to be honest. Seems rather weird to go backwards now when you already know the outcome. It’s like watching the ending of a movie first. My brain can’t compute this ?

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