A snobbish Danish literary author is challenged to write a crime novel in thirty days, travelling to a small village in Iceland for inspiration, and then a body appears … an atmospheric, darkly funny, twisty debut thriller, first in an addictive new series.
Copenhagen author Hannah is the darling of the literary community and her novels have achieved massive critical acclaim. But nobody actually reads them, and frustrated by writer’s block, Hannah has the feeling that she’s doing something wrong.
When she expresses her contempt for genre fiction, Hanna is publicly challenged to write a crime novel in thirty days. Scared that she will lose face, she accepts, and her editor sends her to Húsafjöður – a quiet, tight-knit village in Iceland, filled with colorful local characters – for inspiration.
But two days after her arrival, the body of a fisherman’s young son is pulled from the water … and what begins as a search for plot material quickly turns into a messy and dangerous investigation that threatens to uncover secrets that put everything at risk … including Hannah…
Atmospheric, dramatic and full of nerve-jangling twists and turns, Thirty Days of Darkness is a darkly funny, unsettling debut Nordic Noir thriller that marks the start of a breath-taking new series.
Translated by Megan E Turney
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invite. Thirty Days of Darkness is published by Orenda Books and is available in ebook, audio and hardback on 25 May 2023. For my turn today I have an extract to share which I hope you enjoy.
Bookseller booths line the walls of the labyrinth, through which all sorts of people – from reading groups of grey-haired, whitewine women, to young couples dragging their bored kids around with them – seem to be meandering aimlessly. Some on the lookout for their next big reading experience, others wandering around in the hope of catching a glimpse of their favourite author – most of them probably there simply to avoid the boredom of home. Draping a scarf over her head, Hannah manages to avoid encounters with any colleagues, readers or journalists as she battles her way forward. But soon she breaks out in a cold sweat, and gasping for air, she feels the agoraphobia reach its peak as she finally arrives at the booth, where she finds her books have been set out on their own little table. So this will be where she’ll be spending the afternoon, sat here signing her books. Bastian isn’t even here, as he promised he would. She notes, regretfully, that no dent appears to have been made into her stock of copies, and she doesn’t think that’ll be changing anytime soon. Behind them is a tired-looking intern from the publishing house – alone. Hannah removes the scarf and the intern looks up with no trace of recognition.
‘There’s a special offer on those books today: two for one. An author we can’t seem to sell much of, but they’re really good. They won the Nordic Council Literature Prize twice.’
Hannah feels the fatigue settle into the pit of her stomach. ‘The author has never won the Nordic Council Literature Prize.’
‘They have – Hannah Krause-Bendix. She’s really one of the best authors we have here in Denmark, it’s just that not many people know of her. But she’s actually my favourite author.’
Hannah feels a sudden urge to pull out the revolver she fortunately does not have tucked away in her bag. Sarcasm and humiliation are her only weapons.
‘So she’s your favourite author, is she? Which of her novels would you recommend?’
The intern hesitates, fearful of being caught out in a lie.
‘I Come in Silence is epic.’
‘Yes, I mean, it’s a bit weird, but that’s her style. It’s super deep.’
‘Yeah, I mean, it’s difficult to explain, because—’
‘Because you’ve never read it?’ Hannah interrupts.
The intern blinks a few times, her gaze clouded over with uncertainty, but doesn’t manage to summon up any rebuke. Hannah gets there faster.
‘You shouldn’t be at a book fair trying to sell books that you claim to have read when you clearly know less about literature than an illiterate—’
‘An illiterate what?’
Bastian pops up behind Hannah, all six foot of him looming over her. He looks expectantly at Hannah, and then, taking his eyes off her face, he moves his gaze in an equally inquisitive line to the intern, who – now shrinking behind the counter – looks close to tears.
‘An illiterate moron.’
Hannah seethes at her failure to come up with a more refined insult, yet at the same time notes, with even more irritation, that the intern seems neither horrified nor ashamed enough to pull off a full-blown breakdown. Instead, the young girl straightens up, presumably in the belief that her boss – the tall, kind Bastian – will, with great fanfare, escort the strange assailant out of the building.
‘Claudia here is new, she’s studying comparative literature.’
Probably still convinced that Bastian will grab Hannah’s arm and lead her away, Claudia pushes her shoulders even further back, and turns to him.
‘I was just trying to tell this customer here about Hannah KrauseBendix, but she totally had a go at me instead.’
Ah, a woman playing the victim. How boring.
Claudia the intern eyes Bastian: why wasn’t he escorting her away yet? Hannah’s actually starting to enjoy the conflict. If she’s lucky, Bastian might even fire Claudia. If only the torture could be drawn out a little, for Hannah’s sake. People who lecture others about things they have absolutely no knowledge of should die slow and painful deaths. On the other hand, she’d also like to hurry up and get started on what she actually came here for, and this discussion won’t lead to many books being signed.
‘I don’t know if you usually just read Facebook updates or fashion blogs or whatever, but you clearly don’t read novels. If you did, then you’d know that I’m Hannah Krause-Bendix. I’m the one who wrote these books you’re standing there trying to peddle as if they were pickles.’
Jenny Lund Madsen is one of Denmark’s most acclaimed scriptwriters (including the international hits Rita and Follow the Money) and is known as an advocate for better representation for sexual and ethnic minorities in Danish TV and film. She recently made her debut as a playwright with the critically acclaimed Audition (Aarhus Teater) and her debut literary thriller, Thirty Days of Darkness, first in an addictive new series, won the Harald Mogensen Prize for Best Danish Crime Novel of the year and was shortlisted for the coveted Glass Key Award. She lives in Denmark with her young family.
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Book Purchase Link : Orenda Books