Sunday, November 19, 2023

Thirty Days of Darkness

Thirty Days of Darkness by Jenny Lund Madsen
Megan E. Turney, translator
5/25/23; 413 pages
Orenda Books

Thirty Days of Darkness by Jenny Lund Madsen is a highly recommended Nordic Noir thriller and the first book in a new series by the Danish author. The edition I read was translated by Megan E. Turney.

Copenhagen author Hannah Krause-Bendix Hannah is an acclaimed writer who is currently suffering from writer's block. At a book fair she openly displays contempt for wealthy successful crime writer Jørn Jensen. Hannah claims anyone can write a crime novel. The public encounter results in Hannah accepting Jensen's challenge to write a crime novel in thirty days. Her friend and editor sends her off to stay with a friend in Iceland where she becomes part of an actual murder mystery.

Hannah comes across as an old disgruntled curmudgeon in the beginning of the novel and then settles into a character who seems younger than her age, forty-five. The plot is an author following and inserting herself into a real life murder mystery as she writes about it. As she stumbles about the small village of Húsafjöður trying to solve the crime, her character becomes more human and relatable because she clearly doesn't know the inhabitants and their histories.

It is unclear if she is actually helping the local police officer, Viktor or not. Her host, Ella, does not speak Danish and Hannah barely knows Icelandic. The two communicate through written notes, which adds a level of difficulty. The murder victim was Ella's nephew, Thor, which places Hannah close to the investigation, which probably wouldn't happen in real life as most guests would leave, not stick around to write a crime novel about it.

This is an entertaining novel that has some action and humor that will hold your interest throughout. There are a few other events in the novel where readers will have to set disbelief aside. It basically shows crime fiction as formulaic rather than a compelling thriller with unexpected twists in the plot. At the halfway point I knew the direction it was going.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Orenda Books via Edelweiss.


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