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The Day is Dark    by Yrsa Sigurdardottir order for
Day is Dark
by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Order:  USA  Can
Hodder & Stoughton, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Day is Dark (translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton) is the fourth (following Ashes to Dust) in Yrsa Sigurdardottir's unusual Icelandic mystery series starring Reykjavík attorney Thóra Gudmundsdóttir.

The divorced mother of young Sóley and older teen Gylfi (who lives with her along with his girlfriend Sigga and their infant son Orri), Thóra is in a stable relationship with German Matthew Reich. He has recently moved to Iceland as head of security for Kaupthing Bank. As The Day is Dark opens, he calls Thóra with the offer of a contract with the bank to join a team investigating an isolated mining work camp on the east coast of Greenland. The bank guaranteed the contractor, Berg Technology, which looks like it's going to default on its commitment to a British mining company - Berg employees refuse to return to the site. Two people left there have not been heard from for over a week, and a geologist also disappeared six months earlier.

So Thóra flies to Greenland, along with Matthew, a doctor, an experienced rescuer, a technical expert, a former Berg Technology employee - and Thóra's dreadful chain-smoking secretary Bella who is foisted on the expedition at the last minute by her partner. The work site is near the tiny village of Kaaneq, which has a dark history. Its inhabitants seem unfriendly at best, and many are alcoholics. At the site they find bones of a human skeleton distributed amongst desk drawers, but no sign of the missing workers. The story takes on a gothic feel as foul weather forces the bickering team to stay longer than planned, and an old hunter lingers in the area, watching them. Then a corpse is found, and the police get involved.

Back in Iceland, we're introduced to an ex-Berg employee, Arnar, who is in rehab after falling seriously off the wagon. What does he know? His musings are disturbing. It's hard to second guess this author who keeps the surprises coming. And though the humor is at times hard for North Americans to appreciate, there's plenty of it. Yrsa Sigurdardottir picks unusual settings and historical connections for (often gruesome) murder and mayhem for her series and she's done it again with The Day is Dark. If you're looking for something different in a mystery, try this one.

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