The Darkness Knows

The Darkness Knows

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Arnaldur Indridason, August 17, 2021, St Martin’s Press

I received an Advance Readers Copy from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press, which I used to write my honest review.

I’m drawn to crime fiction set in countries about which I otherwise know very little. I consider these books to be travelogues with a dangerous edge, and I usually end up doing some research on the country in question when I finish the book.

I thought I would experience that same effortless immersion in the world of Detective Konrad, whom readers first met in The Shadow District, but I was oddly detatched throughout the novel. Perhaps it was because the narrative was told from only one point of view (with one exception toward the end that was so jarring I was taken out of the story). Maybe it was due to the very tight plotline; with a few exceptions, the story moved back and forth on the thin thread that connected two murders occuring many years ago with present day events.

Konrad is a nicely developed character, as are some of his colleagues – namely the formidable Marta, who is Konrad’s source of information as a member of the CID from which Konrad has now retired. Readers meet Konrad’s son, daughter-in-law, and late wife as well; they are largely peripheral and not pertinent to the story.

I did not feel that I lost context, not having read The Shadow District, but I do wonder if I would have felt more connected with the story, characters, and world of The Darkness Knows if I had read the first book first. The fact that I now want to read said book speaks to my level of engagement in Konrad’s world, even if I did feel a bit of relief when the book ended – and it ended very darkly, indeed. With the exception of that ending – that gasp in the last ten minutes of the book – the edginess I have come to expect in Scandinavian and Eastern European crime fiction is not present.

The English translation is clumsy in parts, which is not a drawback for me because I find the occasional not-quite-right translated sentiment to be quite charming. I’m intrigued by a possible story arc involving Konrad’s father, which is why I want to read the first book in the Detective Konrad cycle (not sure yet if I would call it a series).

The Darkness Knows gets three stars; the story line was well thought out, I’m intrigued by a possible plot line that will cover more than one volume, and I wish I would have been more connected to the characters and world created in this book.

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