Book Title and Author: The Island by Ragnar Jónasson
Series: Hidden Iceland #2
Publication Date and Publisher: May 21, 2019 by Minotaur Books
Genre: Fiction, Nordic Noir, Mystery
Pages: 352 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: May 15, 2019 (paper copy from the publisher)
Elliðaey is an isolated island off the coast of Iceland. It is has a beautiful, unforgiving terrain and is an easy place to vanish.
The Island is the second thrilling book in Ragnar Jonasson’s Hidden Iceland trilogy. This time Hulda is at the peak of her career and is sent to investigate what happened on Elliðaey after a group of friends visited but one failed to return.
Could this have links to the disappearance of a couple ten years previously out on the Westfjords? Is there a killer stalking these barren outposts?
Written with Ragnar’s haunting and suspenseful prose The Island follows Hulda’s journey to uncover the island’s secrets and find the truth hidden in its darkest shadows.
Last fall I read The Darkness, book one in Ragnar Jónasson’s Hidden Iceland trilogy, and I loved it, so I knew I had to get my hands on The Island as soon as I could. Not only is Jónasson’s writing simply superb, but he’s masterfully created a character in Detective Inspector Hulda Hermansdóttir who I thought after reading book one, and believe even more now after reading The Island, is one of the best fictional detectives I’ve encountered; she’s high-spirited, gruff, driven to succeed and we find out more of why she is that way!
The Island, like his previous book, is hauntingly atmospheric and bone-chillingly suspenseful. The novel starts out slowly but is perfectly paced. It’s obvious that Jónasson is a master at pacing, atmosphere, plots, and his characters as he writes this story.
The novel begins in 1987, in the past, when a romantic getaway goes horribly wrong leaving a young woman murdered. Ten years later in the present day, four old friends travel together on the anniversary of her death to a cabin on a remote island off the coast of Iceland called Ellidaey. It can only be reached by boat—no phones, no escape.
Nothing about the trip seems like a good idea as the desolate scene provides the setting for a tragedy—of the four friends, only three come home alive. Was it an accident? Was it murder? How is the death ten years ago tied to the one in the present day?
Jónasson expertly ties together the plot from the past and the present with Hulda investigating both the tragedy that happened on Ellidaey and what happened a decade ago. The story is multilayered, rich, and complex, and any lover of mysteries, suspense, and nordic noir will be sure to love this one. The reveal is slow, teasing, and not given away early; in fact, I was shocked, pleasantly, since I always figure out early the whodunit!
As far as nordic noir goes, Jonasson is a master of the genre; if you haven’t dipped into nordic noir yet, then I highly recommend starting with this series. Although you can read The Island first, I would recommend reading them in order as they are extraordinarily and brilliantly structured in reverse chronological order. The Darkness takes place at Hulda’s retirement while The Island picks up 15 years earlier in the middle of her career.
It seems like a challenging structure for a trilogy, but Jonasson has pulled it off fabulously. I can’t wait to read book 3 in the series and learn more about Hulda and finally know all the missing pieces of her life.
The Island was unputdownable. It is cleverly written and original without being overly dramatic like some thrillers, which I LOVED!
**Thank you, Joseph Brosnan, at Minotaur Books for my gifted review copy to read in exchange for my fair and honest review.**