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Thursday 8 October 2020

The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson

I'm always a bit wary of translated books, as English, more often than not, is the translator's second language and inevitably, there's a bit of clumsiness in the translation. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by this. Perhaps the translator is English, although 'banging your head against a glass ceiling' is interesting. The Icelanders are obviously ten feet tall. I think the English will stick to the brick wall for their head-banging.

I've never been to Iceland and imagine it to be quite beautiful, albeit cold. Very cold. That bleakness certainly penetrates this book. Hulda is a sixty-four-year-old detective approaching retirement. But her rather obnoxious boss decides she needs to go sooner rather than later (as in, immediately) and offers her one more case, a cold case of her choice, to solve before she goes. I can't imagine what the British unions would make of what amounts to wrongful dismissal. She chooses the apparent 'suicide' of a Russian asylum seeker. The case reeks of mishandling and cover-ups, and she is determined to get to the bottom of it. 

The reader is led to believe that Hulda is good at her job, but she comes over as a bit scatty, naïve and disorganised. Her portrayal hints at females in their sixties as being a little useless and over the hill. Hmm. 

The book is certainly atmospheric and despite my misgivings, is quite compelling. However, the ending is disappointing, incomplete, and Hulda's outcome is totally unnecessary. If you have too many questions at the end of a book, it's never a good thing.

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