Review of “The Darkness Knows: A Novel” by Arnaldur Indridason

I enjoyed the premise of this Icelandic crime novel. A murder victim named Sigurvin was thrown into the crevasse of Langjökull glacier, with the idea the man’s body would never be found. Alas, thanks to global warming, the glacier changed radically since he had been deposited there. It had lost some three meters in height, and the ice cap had shrunk by more than seven cubic kilometers. [According to a Guide to Iceland, some researchers fear that if climate change continues at its current rate the glacier may be gone in 150 years. Less optimistic scientists have said it could be gone in as few as 50.] The victim’s body, well preserved even after thirty years, thus emerged, much to the consternation of some tourists who came upon it while visiting the glacier.

Konrád Flovent, 71, is the retired detective who originally investigated the cold case (so to speak), and it continued to haunt him all these years. After the body was found, and the original main suspect refused to talk to anyone but Konrád, he found himself involved once again.

Slowly and methodically he goes back to see the people involved in that case and also that of the hit-and-run murder of Vilmar Hákonarson six years ago. Villi’s sister is convinced the deaths are related, and Konrád comes around to her point of view.

The story behind the deaths unfolds slowly in the cold, dark setting, which is also of interest. In Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, the shortest day of the year only lasts 4 hours and 8 minutes. Darkness indeed!

I also liked the unusual twist at the end of the story. Unlike most twists in crime novels, this one had nothing to do with the crime itself or even the criminals.

Evaluation: I found this story a bit slow for my tastes, but not without some appeal. The Icelandic setting is unique for me, and I enjoyed learning more about that country. In addition, Konrád certainly has a number of unexpected and interesting layers. I don’t anticipate continuing with the series, although the first book has a lot to recommend it.

Rating: 3/5

Published in the U.S. by Minotaur Books, 2021

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