Wednesday 8 May 2019

Two crime novels

As usual I'm several reviews behind so it's time to catch up on a couple.

First up, The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson. This is my 4th. book for the European Reading Challenge which is being hosted by Rose City Reader, and covering the country of 'Iceland'.

DI Hulda Hermannsdóttir is being forced into a retirement she doesn't want. Living alone after the death of her daughter and husband some years ago, her job is all Hulda has. Her boss tells her she can have two more weeks at work and she can spend it investigating any cold case she chooses. Hulda chooses the unsolved death of a young Russian girl washed up in an isolated bay on the coast. The girl was an asylum seeker and the officer leading the enquiry had concluded that she had taken her own life, depressed at how long her case was taking. But that officer is notoriously lax and Hulda does not believe the conclusion for one moment. Hulda has two weeks to prove him wrong and find a murderer.

It's a bit grim this one. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised as Scandi noir does have a bit of a depressing reputation, but I don't read a lot of it so it did feel a bit relentless and I was taken aback by it. Poor Hulda is a very sad case. As the book goes along you find out what happened to her daughter and then later her husband, which explains her isolation and disconnection from her work colleagues. And they're a mean spirited lot, bullying really, it's horrible. Nothing seems to go right 'at all' and the ending... goodness me! I gather book 2 goes back to events 25 years ago, if I'm honest I don't think I can stand it. Even though this is a good book, very well written and gripping with an excellent feel for Iceland, the series is not, I fear, for me.

Lastly, The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths. This qualifies for Bev's Calendar of Crime challenge under the August category of 'Primary action takes place in this month'.

Ruth Galloway is contacted by a friend in Italy, Dr. Angelo Morelli. He presents an archaeology TV show where he often unearths burial sites on camera. His latest skeleton reveal came with a buried mobile phone with the text message, 'Surprise'. Aside from this, Angelo thinks someone is trying to kill him and contacts Ruth because she's a bone expert who has also been involved in murder investigations. Ruth takes her daughter, Kate, and her best friend, Shona, and her little boy, Louis, hoping they can also make a holiday of the trip. They stay in an old house in a historical village, it's gorgeous but a bit too hot for Ruth. She has a difficult time balancing work and holiday but it's quite doable until an earthquake strikes which brings DCI Harry Nelson out from England in a panic. Ruth can't decide whether to be pleased or annoyed but can't help admitting that his help with the inexplicable goings on is invaluable.

This series is like a drug for me. Once I start one of the books I can't put it down and I would probably have to say that it's my favourite crime series, although there are other strong contenders. I love the archaeology that comes with every book, the history, and yes... all the talk about bones too, love it all. But most of all I think I like the back-story of Ruth and Harry and Harry's wife, Michelle, their daughters, the wonderful Cathbad, all of the characters feel like friends and it matters what happens to them. This book also has a bit of a shock ending, but every one of the Ruth Galloway books has some kind of shock occurrence close to the end. I even find myself waiting for it now. Wonderful, 5 stars on Goodreads no question at all.



DesLily said...

*sigh* ok so I will look into the Dark Angel one.. lol I am reading the Setterfield book.. I can't say I am enthralled .. Without realizing it I guess I keep hoping for another book as good as her first one.. but it is getting a bit better lol there's hope yet! lol

HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY CATH! I hope you have a most wonderful day/ week/ year.. etc!! love you!

Nan said...

It isn't for me either!!!
And happy birthday, dear one! You brighten my life with your postings.

Cath said...

Pat: Looking forward to hearing what you think of the Setterfield, I've seen one or two people say the same as you though. I'm still looking forward to reading it, especially as you sent it to me, Sis. Thank you, thank you for your birthday wishes, love you too. *Hugs*

Nan: Nooooo, The Darkness would not be for you, it really wouldn't. It is well written... in fact I don't think that helps as the good writing made it even more depressing. A real shame as I loved his 'Snowblind'... will return to that series I think.

And thank for your birthday wishes and very kind words.

Sam Sattler said...

Cath, I stubbed across your blog this morning for the first time in a long time, and you've inspired me to see whether or not I can revive my old blog, Book Chase, after an absence of two years. I had some serious health issues that took the steam out of me for a long time, but I'm going to make a few posts there just to see what happens. I know I've pretty much killed the thing, but I'll tackle it with the intention of documenting my reading for myself, if for no other reason. My url is if you care to take a look...would welcome any thoughts, too. I'm really, really rusty.

Sam Sattler

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

Cath, as you now I've read the second Hulda book - and I think The Darkness sounds a lot darker!

I'm looking forward to read The Dark Angel - it certainly sounds full of dramatic events. I'm so glad you loved it!

and Happy Birthday - sorry there's not much of it left now - hope you've had lots of new books to read!!

TracyK said...

Two very nice reviews, Cath. I will keep in mind the grimness of the Hulda Hermannsdóttir series if I decide to try it. It will take me a long time to get to The Dark Angel, I am only up to book 5 in that series. So many books and so many authors i want to read.

Kay said...

Cath, your review of THE DARKNESS was compelling for sure. I was thinking of reading it because our mystery group is doing 'books set in a country or state beginning with the letter I'. However, I might do another Icelandic book. I know you and Nan like this author's other series. And the Ruth Galloway series. Well, you know that I love it. I really could read those books over and over and over. Ha! A belated birthday wish to you!

Cath said...

Sam: really sorry to hear you've had serious health issues. I do hope you're now on the mend?

I'll happily take a look at your book blog in a moment, are you still doing jigsaw puzzles too?

Margaret: It sounds silly but having found out what happens to Hulda in the present day I honestly have no interest in going back 25 years. I think, once you've read The Darkness, you'll know what I mean. It would've made a lot more sense for him to issue book 2 as book 1.

Thank you, I had a really nice b/day, got two books, plus ones I bought for myself *cough*. Will do a post on those soon.

Tracy: Thank you. I know, there are so many authors I would like to try but there's only so much time to read and I want to concentrate on the series I'm already halfway through.

Kay: Thank you. That's an interesting thing to do for book group. Of course there is always Ireland, Israel, India, Ivory Coast (that one might be slightly more challenging LOL).

Yes, I too could read Ruth Galloway over and over. Especially as I think I gobbel each one too quickly in my haste to find out what happens. They are page turners for sure.