Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an extract from Thirty Days of Darkness! Check out my review here if you missed it the first time around, but the long and short of it is that Thirty Days of Darkness is an entertaining and compelling Nordic thriller off the beaten path and one I would definitely recommend to fans of (Nordic) crime fiction with a twist (in the genre as well as in the plot).
Many thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour, and to Orenda Books for the excerpt.
Let’s have a quick look at the blurb first:
A Danish literary author is challenged to write a crime novel in thirty days, travelling to a small village in Iceland for inspiration, and then a body appears … an atmospheric, darkly funny, twisty debut thriller, first in an addictive new series.
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, Hanna 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 Húsafjöður – 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.
Atmospheric, dramatic and full of nerve-jangling twists and turns, Thirty Days of Darkness is a darkly funny, unsettling debut thriller that marks the start of a breathtaking new series.
Okay, ready? Let’s head off to Iceland!
The baggage carousel kicks into motion, alerting those awaiting their suitcases with a mechanical click, promising an imminent reunion between them and their luggage. People swarm around the mouth of the belt as it spits out each bag at an unpredictable pace. Hannah waits in solitary dignity away from the epicentre – why don’t people realise the belt carries the luggage all the way round, and that it may, therefore, be beneficial to spread out a bit? For God’s sake, that’s what it’s bloody designed for. With her arms folded across her chest, she observes the other passengers: what exactly does that achieve? What are they afraid of? That someone else is going to run off with their copy-and-paste suitcases full of their dirty laundry?
They have travelled through the morning together, flown alongside the retreating darkness, and an hour back in time. An almost poetic, collective experience, in a way. One of those rare circumstances that makes Hannah feel like part of a group: All of us together, high above the Earth, and if we were to fall out of the sky, we would die together. Hannah finds the idea of a collective death mollifying. But here they all are, her fellow passengers, alive and safe, hovering around the conveyor belt like hyenas surrounding a dead animal. The sense of community dissipates entirely as they fight for their luggage.
She drags her black suitcase toward the exit, its one broken wheel screeching behind her as it tries to pull off to the right. She should’ve replaced the suitcase many trips ago. Hannah looks around, tries to get an impression of Iceland thus far – the airport doesn’t seem all that different to Denmark’s. Or from any other airport anywhere else, for that matter: stone, metal, glass. All neatly arranged. Perhaps that’s why all arrival gates look the same; so you can’t tell what country you’re in. Maybe it’s meant to give the impression of a smooth transition: a few hours ago, you were in another country, far away, and now you’re here, yet it looks the same. A kind of deception; the human brain couldn’t keep up with the change without it. Or maybe it’s because most travellers are xenophobic. Hannah notices, however, that the neutrality here at Keflavík, Iceland’s national airport, is offset by a few ultranationalist symbols in the duty-free shop: flags of Iceland, souvenirs, chocolates shaped like famous Icelandic buildings and postcards with turf cabins and waterfalls. Icelandic vodka, Icelandic sweets. Who, hand on their heart, actually has use for a cap with horns bearing the Icelandic flag? Hannah peers in as she walks by: American tourists. She feels something icy run down her side from her right armpit. Cold sweat. She can’t get out of the floodgates of Keflavík airport fast enough – with one last hard tug, she forces her suitcase back on track and hopes that her host for the month, Ella, is waiting on the other side of those doors, as Bastian has promised.
Outside the arrivals hall, Hannah regrets, for the third time, taking on this project. She’s done two rounds of the car park with her dying suitcase in tow and smoked two slow cigarettes in front of the entrance – their meeting point. But no Ella. Hannah shuffles back, further under the roof, and looks up at the sky. Various shades of grey and about to rain. And she’s not convinced that the air is anywhere near as fresh as she was promised. Where is Ella? Hannah has a sudden, nerve-racking thought: what if there is no Ella? What if there is no writing retreat set up for her – it was all just a ruse to lure her up here, so Bastian could finally get rid of her? No, he wouldn’t do that. Ella’s probably just had a heart attack and died on her way here. She is an older woman, after all. Oh, fuck. What if she is lying lifeless in a ditch? With frozen fingers, she fumbles around with her lighter and inhales the smoke of another cigarette deep into her lungs, holds it there a moment and exhales. She contemplates a curious, colourful sculpture made of steel and glass across the car park. The artwork tilts to the side a bit, unfinished at the top, as if it’s trying to stretch up to heaven, but chooses not to at the last minute. It’s not too late to turn around. Icelandair runs a shuttle service, maybe she can hop on the same flight she arrived on? Maybe she’d even get the same seat.
Itching to know what happens next? Not a problem! Thirty Days of Darkness is out now in digital formats and hardcover! Order it directly from Orenda Books here.