A prequel to The Darkness (2018) that picks up Inspector Hulda Hermansdóttir in 1997, 15 years before her unplanned retirement, and finds her already just as lonely, resentful, and driven to succeed against all odds.
Ten years after the death of Katla, a young woman who was murdered on Ellidaey Island, an uninhabited scrap of rock off the remote southwest coast of Iceland, four friends of hers return to the island. It’s not entirely clear why securities trader Dagur, farmer’s daughter Alexandra, or perennially unemployed Klara, who mostly aren’t close to each other, have accepted the invitation of software company founder Benedikt to the scene of Katla’s murder. But it’s soon very clear that the reunion was a seriously bad idea. When one of the four not-quite-friends ends up at the bottom of a cliff, the others make appropriately mournful sounds. But the discovery of marks on the victim’s throat indicates that this new death is another murder and raises the uncomfortable question of which of the three survivors—there’s literally no one else on the island—is the killer. Hulda, who’s been off in America seeking her birth father from among a short list of GIs named Robert who could possibly have impregnated her mother during a tour of duty in Reykjavik, returns in time to grab the case from under the nose of Lýdur, the former professional rival who’s now her boss after having risen swiftly through the ranks, his rise propelled in no small part by his work 10 years ago in identifying Katla’s killer, who suddenly doesn’t look so guilty after all.
Jónasson, who could give lessons on how to sustain a chilly atmosphere, sprinkles just enough hints of ghostly agents to make you wonder if he’s going to fall back on a paranormal resolution to the mystery. Don’t worry: The solution is both uncanny and all-too-human.