The Hidden Iceland series by Ragnar Jónasson

The Island by Ragnar Jonasson

During a hot summer four friends visit the isolated island of Elliðaey, but only three of them return. Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir at the Reykjavik police is sent to the island to investigate and soon finds haunting similarities with a previous case – a young woman found murdered ten years ago in the equally desolate West Fjords. Two young women, once best friends, both found dead in isolated locations. Is there a patient killer lurking in the barren outskirts of Iceland?

The Island is the second instalment in Ragnar Jónasson´s Hidden Iceland series and a sequel to The Darkness, where we met Hulda Hermannsdóttir for the first time. Then she was 64 years old and approaching her retirement, but determined to end her career on top by solving a cold case. A young asylum seeking women had been found dead on a desolate shore and the death was dismissed as a suicide, but Hulda is convinced that it´s a murder and her persistence leads her to the truth and a secret far more dangerous than she expected…

In The Island Hulda is in her fifties and at the peak of her career, a competent detective struggling for her place in a male dominated environment. Thus, the series is told in reverse order and this backwards chronology made me a bit skeptical at first, but it works fine. Now and then we get glimpses of Hulda’s complex personal life and the author gradually reveals the different events that have shaped her, not at least her tragic relationships with her husband and daughter. Each book in the Hidden Iceland series is centered around a criminal investigation, but together the series forms a compelling narrative of Hulda´s life.

And beyond the fascinating character of Hulda, as in all of Jónasson´s novels, there is the ever-present “character” of Iceland.  Hulda works and lives in the city of Reykjavik, but her investigations take her out into the Icelandic countryside, to cold and isolated fjords and to one of Iceland´s most beautiful and inaccessible islands.  The desolate wilds makes it the perfect place to vanish and the magnificent emptiness helps enforce the tense and brooding atmosphere of the stories. The author explores many different ways of hidden-ness in the Hidden Iceland series – from hidden fjords and hidden summer-houses, to hidden shames in the human mind.

I can hardly wait for the third book in the series, The Mist, which is due to arrive in spring 2020.


Librarian, lecturer and entrepreneur - and a fan of thought-provoking crime fiction from the Nordic countries