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robtwinem

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I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

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Susie Steiner
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Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
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Cold atmospheric scandi noir

The Island (Hidden Iceland #2) - Ragnar Jónasson

The Island" falls into a category of books loosely referred to as Scandinavian noir. Set in Iceland the volcanic landscape and frozen polar conditions adds an eerie silent and unpredictable element to the events as they unfold...."What the scenery lacked in drama it made up for in its all encompassing tranquility, its sense of space and emptiness. The only accents of colour in the treeless landscape were provided by patches of bilberry and crowberry plants and the calm blue waters of the fjord below....."

 

Some 10 years ago a young girl was murdered in Ellidaey, a small island located south of Iceland. A culprit is identified, apprehended and the case is seemingly closed. Moving forward to the present and four young friends are holidaying on the same desolate location. Before the vacation concludes one of the four lies dead at the bottom of a steep cliff and murder is suspected. Is there a connection between the two brutal acts? Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is assigned the case. Hindered by the interference of a previous superior Lydur and struggling with her own personal tragedies she must use all her skills to navigate both the past and the present incidents in an attempt to identify the killer/s The character of Hulda Hermannsdóttir is a tough and resilient antihero. Living alone in this isolated barren part of the world she demands the structure and discipline that comes with her job as a police inspector. She presents a picture of a loner, there to be pitied by a sympathetic reader and for the most part this is successful

 

Underneath the main crime investigation a secondary mystery unfolds. Hulda is trying to trace the whereabouts of her real father. She knows he was an American GI and on impulse travels to the US only to be faced with disappointment. Ragnar Jonasson uses this opportunity to tease the reader and in the closing pages an unexpected detail is revealed adding a delightful ending that is sure to be explored in future books. The stark and bare landscape is used to great affect by the author to add tension and unpredictability to his writing. Hulda Hermannsdóttir is a sad highly intelligent police officer performing her daily workload to the best of her undoubted ability. I felt however that the story itself was somewhat unoriginal (four friends camping, one is killed, who is the murderer amongst them) yet having said that The Island was a fine example of Scandi noir. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy of The Island in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.