blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Thirty Days of Darkness – Jenny Lund Madsen, translated by Megan E. Turney

Winner of the Harald Mogensen Prize for Best Danish Crime Novel of 2020 Shortlisted for the Glass Key Award

A snobbish Danish literary author is challenged to write a crime novel in thirty days, travelling to a small village in Iceland for inspiration, and then the first body appears…

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 Húsafjörður – 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.

Jenny Lund Madsen is one of Denmark’s most acclaimed scriptwriters (including the international hits Rita and Follow the Money) and is known as an advocate for better representation for sexual and ethnic minorities in Danish TV and film. She recently made her debut as a playwright with the critically acclaimed Audition (Aarhus Teater) and her debut literary thriller, Thirty Days of Darkness, first in an addictive new series, won the Harald Mogensen Prize for Best Danish Crime Novel of the year and was shortlisted for the coveted Glass Key Award. She lives in Denmark with her young family.

My thoughts: come with me to an Icelandic village in the middle of nowhere, in winter, where writer Hannah is attempting to write a crime novel in 30 days to win a bet. When there’s a murder, which she gets involved in and puts her safety at risk. She doesn’t speak the language, forcing others to have to speak English or Danish, she doesn’t know the people, but she’s pretty sure she can catch the killer. As you do.

I found Hannah a bit grating, she pushes her way into people’s lives and business with little regard for their feelings and clearly thinks very highly of herself. Her career is stalling as not many people seem that keen on her literary fiction – preferring crime writers like her nemesis Jørn. Which is why she boasts she can write a whole crime novel in a month. This tickled me, I do love it when writers poke fun at the industry and their own genre.

Especially when the book is so good, like this one. Jenny Lund Madsen has written a cracking crime thriller, with all the good ingredients – remote location, nosey outsider, secrets that have been buried for years, lots of possible suspects, a conflicted community, a lone policeman, and winter closing in. Iceland’s unique geography and the fact that the sun isn’t in evidence for much of the winter adds to the sinister atmosphere – snow bound crimes are always a bit more macabre than sunny ones. The winter darkness adds to the sense of claustrophobia and paranoia, someone here is a killer. They can’t leave, but neither can anyone else.

Full of suspense, intrigue and horror, this dark and twisted tale of murder and tragedy is absolutely perfect for a dark and stormy night’s reading. Or not, if you don’t want to stay up all night!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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