New de­tec­tive se­ries is in­sight­ful char­ac­ter study

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Carolina Living - BY OLINE H. COGDILL As­so­ci­ated Press

“The Dark­ness” (Mino­taur), by Rag­nar Jonas­son

Ice­landic au­thor Rag­nar Jonas­son takes a ma­jor chance – that works ex­tremely well – in “The Dark­ness,” the launch of a new se­ries about De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Hulda Her­manns­dot­tir. Rather than meet­ing the Reyk­javik, Ice­land, de­tec­tive at the be­gin­ning or even the mid­dle of her ca­reer, Jonas­son in­tro­duces Hulda at the end of the ca­reer that has been her life­line.

Hulda’s swan song as a de­tec­tive, as well as other choices Jonas­son makes, might not seem as if the au­thor could sus­tain a se­ries based on this char­ac­ter. But “The Dark­ness” melds an in­sight­ful char­ac­ter study with a solid plot for an out­stand­ing novel and shows how he could sus­tain this as a se­ries.

A widow whose only child died decades ago, the per­pet­u­ally de­pressed Hulda has lived for her work ever since. She thrives on this job, de­spite be­ing passed over for pro­mo­tions that have gone to younger and less qual­i­fied men. The 64-yearold dreads that manda­tory re­tire­ment is near, but that’s next year. She’s shat­tered when her boss, Mag­nus, tells her that she will be leav­ing in two weeks. She'll get her full salary but the depart­ment needs to make room for a less ex­pe­ri­enced man who’s been hired.

As a con­so­la­tion, Mag­nus tells Hulda she can work on a cold case of her choos­ing be­fore she leaves. Hulda plunges into the case of Elena, an asy­lum-seek­ing Rus­sian woman whose death was ruled a sui­cide. Hulda quickly re­al­izes that her col­league’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion was, at best, care­less.

While “The Dark­ness” takes a grim path, Jonas­son el­e­vates the plot with a com­pelling look at a de­tec­tive who has dealt with ex­treme per­sonal losses and wor­ries that she is fac­ing a re­tire­ment, and old age, alone.

Hulda may be at the close of her ca­reer, but Jonas­son is just get­ting started with this new se­ries.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.