cover image The Darkness

The Darkness

Ragnar Jónasson, trans. from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. Minotaur, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-17103-0

Reykjavík Det. Insp. Hulda Hermannsdóttir, the 64-year-old heroine of this outstanding series debut from Jónasson (Blackout), is aware that she’s nearing mandatory retirement, but she’s still devastated when her boss, Magnus, tells her to prepare to stop working in just two weeks. To soften the unexpected blow, Magnus says that she can select a cold case to look into during her remaining time, and Hulda jumps on the opportunity to do something meaningful. She selects the unexplained death of a Russian woman, Elena, who had been seeking asylum when her drowned corpse was found in a remote cove more than a year earlier. Hulda’s suspicion that the initial inquiry was sloppy is confirmed when she learns that the assigned officer failed to follow some basic leads. Her doggedness in pursuit of justice for Elena rankles her superior, who claims to have been joking about her investigating anything else. Jónasson pulls no punches as this grim tale builds to its stunning conclusion, one of the more remarkable in recent crime fiction. Fans of uncompromising plotting will be satisfied. Agent: David Headley, DHH Literary Agency (U.K.). (Oct.)