Monday, October 12, 2020

The Island by Ragnar Jónasson

In 1987 a girl is found dead in a summer cottage. From the start, the investigator in charge knows he has the killer dead to rights. 

Ten years later, on the anniversary of the girl's death, her friends gather for a reunion in her honor. They're to spend the weekend at a hunter's lodge on an island off the coast of Iceland. Alone. But before the weekend has ended, one of them is dead. 

Hulda Hermannsdóttir is called to investigate what at first seems like a tragic accident. But as more evidence unfolds, it becomes clear that someone in the group had a motive for murder. And it all ties back to that case from a decade earlier. A case Hulda's own boss made his career on.

This second in the Hidden Iceland series takes readers back to 1997 and the middle stages of Hulda's career as a police officer. We're getting closer to Hulda's own tragedy, which we know the details of thanks to the reveal in The Darkness, but we're not quite there yet. Even so, the weight of that event is more raw in this second book. 

As mentioned above, the book begins in 1987, which is an important year in Hulda's history, but the piece included in this book doesn't actually touch on that period for Hulda at all. Instead, we begin with a couple and their babysitter—which doesn't make much sense until we get to the end of the book—and then dive straight into a young couple and their weekend getaway. 

It's a getaway that ends in a death, but bits are missing for us, the readers. We see the suspect arrested and we also get a peek at just how the case is twisted in order to be closed so quickly. All information that Hulda herself isn't privy to...just yet. 

Ten years later, the friends of the girl who died in 1987 are reuniting for the first time in a decade. And for the reader, it's the first time we see the dead girl's boyfriend since their trip. Yep, you heard me, we meet her boyfriend, we know his girlfriend died, and we know who was accused of and arrested for the death but no one, including us, knows what her boyfriend's hand in all that may have been. 

The group includes said boyfriend, the girl's brother, and two women. And the original trip itself is a secret only the reader is privy to. Or so it seems. Because by the time their little reunion is over, one of the group is dead! Enter Hulda and her investigative skills. 

The Island can essentially be read as a standalone, but it is the second book in the series. And it's a rather enjoyable one. Hulda is an experienced detective, not as experienced as when we met her in book one, but experienced nonetheless. And it's here that we see just how Hulda's been done wrong by the department she works for! 

As was the case with the first book, Iceland itself is more than a setting here. The island in question is a tiny, uninhabited island off the coast. The cabin in the beginning is also in an incredibly isolated part of the country. Both settings as murder scenes make investigating the crimes both easier and more difficult. 

The Island is out in paperback now and is not to be missed! I will again warn you that while these are definitely closer to cozy than any other Nordic Noir I've read so far, there are some darker themes that you'll be aware of if you've read the books in order. If you haven't yet read The Darkness, I will say that while those themes are never explicitly outlined in any of the books, they're particularly less clear in this second outing. 

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

1 comment:

Tammy Sparks said...

This series sounds really good. I haven't read very many Icelandic mysteries and I'd love to try this one!