This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.
‘Copenhagen author Hannah is the darling of the literary community and her novels have achieved massive critical acclaim.
‘But nobody actually reads them, and frustrated by writer’s block, Hannah has the feeling that she’s doing something wrong.
‘When she expresses her contempt for genre fiction, Hannah is publicly challenged to write a crime novel in thirty days.
‘Scared that she will lose face, she accepts, and her editor sends her to Húsafjörður – a quiet, tight-knit village in Iceland, filled with colourful local characters – for inspiration.
‘But two days after her arrival, the body of a fisherman’s young son is pulled from the water… and what begins as a search for plot material quickly turns into a messy and dangerous investigation that threatens to uncover secrets that put everything at risk… including Hannah.’
In Thirty Days of Darkness, by Jenny Lund Madsen, highbrow author and functioning alcoholic Hannah travels from her home in Copenhagen, Denmark, to Húsafjörður, Iceland, where her plan is to write a crime novel in a month, just to show the world how easy it is.
However, not long after Hannah arrives, her welcoming host Ella’s teenage nephew, Thor, is found dead at the local harbour, and it doesn’t look like an accident. Hannah’s interest is piqued, and she can’t help but involve herself in the investigation.
I really enjoyed Thirty Days of Darkness, reading it in less than 24 hours as it was so fast-paced and gripping. I was also captivated by the setting of an isolated Icelandic village at the coldest, darkest time of the year.
Hannah is a brilliant creation. At the beginning of the book, she comes across as so rude and spiky that you just know an entertaining story is coming. She never totally loses that edge, but different parts of her emerge over the course of the novel.
Hannah’s softer side comes out as she develops relationships with various people in Húsafjörður – particularly Ella, Margrét (childminder, married to the village’s sole police officer), and homeless man Gísli – and you realise she’d previously been so lonely and isolated, she’d forgotten how to interact with people.
You also learn that she’s very inquisitive and foolhardy, and this gets her into trouble – from humorous scrapes to life-or-death situations – on multiple occasions, keeping you on the edge of your seat.
I adored the very meta premise, and the tongue-in-cheek way Madsen handles it, poking fun at both the literary and crime genres. Hannah’s interactions with, and thoughts about her adversary, popular and (in Hannah’s view) infuriatingly affable crime author Jørn Jensen, are so funny.
At the same time, it’s the mystery at the heart of the book – who killed Thor, and why? – that rightfully takes centre stage. Hannah meets a lot of interesting characters and makes some intriguing (and often misleading) discoveries as she tries to find out. I certainly didn’t guess whodunit!
Thirty Days of Darkness is an addictive, tongue-in-cheek thrill.