Today it is my absolute pleasure to share my thoughts on The Island, the second book in the Hidden Iceland series by Ragnar Jónasson. I’m a huge fan of this author, and his Dark Iceland series was my first taste of Icelandic fiction. I’ve not looked back since. A massive thank you to publisher Michael Joseph for inviting me to join the tour and for providing an advance copy for review. Here is what the book is all about:
About the Book
Four friends visit the island.
But only three return . . .
Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sent to the isolated island of Elliðaey to investigate and soon finds haunting similarities with a previous case – a young woman found murdered ten years ago in the equally desolate Westfjords.
Is there a patient killer stalking these barren outposts?
As Hulda navigates a sinister game constructed of smoke and mirrors she is convinced that no one is telling the truth, including those closest to her.
But who will crack first? And what secrets is the island hiding?
Haunting, suspenseful and as chilling as an Icelandic winter, The Island follows one woman’s journey to find the truth hidden in the darkest shadows, and shine a light on her own dark past.
What I really love about Ragnar Jonasson’s writing is that way that in a few short paragraphs he is able to completely transport you to the heart of the action, uprooting you from your nice comfortable sofa and plonking you from and centre into the world you are reading about, be it a cityscape of the more remote areas of Iceland. You can feel the cold envelop you, picture the scene the surrounds you and hear all that the characters hear. His writing is so evocative that you are totally absorbed by both story and setting and every book is an all consuming experience. The Island is no different, and I was drawn into the story from the very first page, kept on tenterhooks until the very end.
Now if you are looking for high-octane action, then this clearly won’t be the book for you. There is more a gentle unveiling of the mystery which weaves its way through the chapter of this book. Not one murder in fact, but two, separated by a number of years but undoubtedly connected by the characters that inhabit the pages. Two young women, once best friends, both found dead in isolated locations. An almost perfect mystery, but one which Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is determined to solve.
Ragnar Jonasson is so adept at creating tension and mystery, diverting attention and suspicion from one character to the next. There is also an emotional quality to his writing, and you can feel the doubts, insecurities and anger of the characters emanating from the narrative. Add into this the very personal quest of the lead character, Hulda, and you have a very captivating story. So many secrets are being kept, so many half truths being spoken, that you will struggle to know who to trust and the book certainly had me second guessing myself throughout.
There is a kind of folk lore, or urban legend kind of element to the book too, fed by the overwhelmingly atmospheric and claustrophobic setting of the remote Island on which the second murder takes place. With the heavy clouds drawing in and no way to escape the island it adds a layer of tension to an already fractious situation, and with an ever present sense of foreboding you just know that it’s not going to end well for some if not all of the characters.
This is another brilliant novel by the author which just makes me want to read more. I can’t wait for book three next March. And yes – it is already on preorder. Has been since last year 😉 Bring it on.
About the Author
Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavík, Iceland, where he works as a writer and a lawyer and teaches copyright law at Reykjavík University. He has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, and, from the age of seventeen has translated fourteen of Agatha Christie’s novels. He is an international Number One bestseller.