Yrsa Sigurdardottir - The Day is Dark
(Hodder & Stoughton)
Just as Norwegian Jo Nesbø is busy being ‘the next Stieg Larsson’, Yrsa Sigurdardottir is apparently ‘Iceland’s answer to Stieg Larsson’. The late Swedish author could scarcely have predicted how posthumously helpful he would prove to book marketers.
There are some obvious comparisons: those writers plus the granddaddy of them all, Henning Mankell, have turned Nordic crime into a sub-genre we just can’t get enough of. Each of them churns out intelligent beach reads that keep you gripped without troubling the intellect. In this respect, Sigurdardottir is no better or worse, just female, so her heroine lawyer Thóra Gudmundsdottir worries about outfits and childcare rather than booze and women, while solving crimes.
The central story here is far-fetched but mildly compelling, involving a Mary Celeste-style mystery at a Greenland mining camp. The workers have disappeared, a grisly video has been discovered and the locals are being suspiciously unhelpful. Sigurdardottir evokes the harsh, snow-covered landscape beautifully, but there’s an air of unreality here that borders on science fiction, while the simplicity of the narrative makes it hard to genuinely care what happens to anyone in it.