cover image The Island

The Island

Ragnar Jónasson, trans. from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. Minotaur, $27.99

Jónasson’s masterly sequel to 2018’s The Darkness opens with a cryptic prologue set in a town just south of Reykjavík in 1988. A seven-year-old girl puzzles her parents after they return home one night by saying that both of her babysitters were kind, though only one babysitter had been with her. Flash back to a year earlier, when an unnamed 20-year-old woman takes her boyfriend, Benedikt, to her family’s summer home on the island of Ellidaey down the coast from Reykjavík, where she tells him stories about Iceland’s history of witch-burning in the 17th century. That outing ends in murder, and corruption mars the subsequent police inquiry. A decade later, Insp. Hulda Hermannsdóttir, who was passed over for promotion at the time of that flawed investigation, takes charge when another dead body turns up on Ellidaey with a connection to the previous murder. The link between the babysitter’s mysterious companion and the murders gradually becomes clear as the plot builds to a shiver-inducing conclusion. Jónasson delivers a mind-bending look into human darkness that earns its twists. Agent: David Headley, DHH Literary (U.K.). (May)