“My God – is daylight never going to come?”
The Day is Dark is the latest in the series about detective Thóra Gudmundsdóttir to be translated into English. A group of Icelanders working on a project in Greenland have had some of their members vanish, and they are returning with Thóra and Matthew to investigate further. But not all of the group have returned, and some of those who have start showing their true colours when kept in isolation again. And why are the local villagers so afraid to go near their camp? And why are there bones in desk drawers??
Yrsa has gone out on a limb with this book by setting it somewhere other than Iceland. She has chosen Greenland as a place that is seen by Icelanders as dark, remote and empty. She explores some of the stereotypes around natives of this country, most of which would be unknown to the wider world. This book also differs from her earlier work by putting Thóra in an ongoing, dangerous situation, rather than just coming in after the events have already happened. There was a real feeling that anything could happen in this cold, dark place and both the villagers and the people that she was with were suspects at all times.
One thing that I found a little disappointing was that although Matthew was a main character in this book, the romance between him and Thóra is still in limbo. Is it going to develop further, or not? I’m not sure if she is taking a leaf out of Indriðason’s ongoing Erlendur-story-that-never-is-explained but I’m now at the point where I want answers to these things! Especially as we are always behind waiting for translations.
The book ends on a slightly spooky note. As usual, leaving something to the reader’s imagination is better than spelling it out and she has done it well. She also manages to make you sympathetic towards the Greenlanders although none of them were particularly “nice” characters.
Well worth a read although slightly different than her earlier books, and I applaud her for moving into new territory.
On a side note, if you are interested in Greenlandic culture, a book I found really interesting was The Explorer’s Daughter by Kari Herbert. She spent some of her childhood there with her explorer father, and returned 20 years later to find a different world.