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Posted: March 13, 2022

Indridason treats Iceland like a character

Book Review

By Derryll White

Indridason, Arnaldur (2007).  The Darkness Knows.

“The only way you can conquer death is by accepting it.”  Erna

Indridason is faithful to Iceland, as he has been in all his novels.  He treats it as most authors would a main character, developing the reader’s sense of the nation and its people.  Global warming, and its effect upon Iceland, is a recurring theme.  This novel is a sequel to ‘The Shadow District’.

Retired Detective Konrad is pulled back into a very old case of his, from 30 years ago.  The author doesn’t give the reader a lot about Konrad, except that he has a vicious father that the detective is worried about emulating.  He appears to have been married to Erna but one never really knows what happened to this powerful memory that Konrad carries, except that she isn’t there.  We do know she died of cancer.

Indridason mirrors the structure and flow of the old Icelandic saga, a prose narrative based on old family events and reflecting the struggles and incidences he had with his father.  Snorri Sturluson and the ‘Prose Edda’ appear to have influence with Indridason, firmly embedding him in the history of Iceland.  It may be for this reason that Konrad’s wife is named Erna, the mother in Norse mythology of a class of warriors.


Excerpt from the novel:

PLACE – Afterwards, he drove unhurriedly home, deciding to take the roundabout route via Selfoss rather than returning over the Threngsli pass.  The weather was bright and sunny on the grassy lowlands around the River Olfusá.  But soon enough he was ascending the hairpin bends into the mountains again, passing the eternal columns of steam rising from the Hellisheidi geothermal power station, then on through the volcanic wastes until at last the city opened out below surrounded on three sides by blue sea.

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at


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