This session will explore Icelandic crime from two fascinating perspectives – the chilling, poetic beauty of Ragnar Jonasson’s crime fiction and Simon Cox’s celebrated BBC News investigation into unsolved murders in the 1970s.
Spanning the icy streets of Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands and cold, isolated fjords, The Darkness is the first novel in the new Hulda crime series from one of the most exciting names in Nordic Noir. The Reykjavik Confessions is a chilling journey of discovery into a dark corner of Icelandic history, and a riveting true-crime thriller.
Day two of #AyeWrite finds me back in The Mitchell Library for the 2nd of my panel events, The Reykjavik Connection, with Ragnar Jonasson and Simon Cox.
There is something magical about The Mitchell, from the intricate detail of the exterior to the iconic chequered floor at the main entrance. I always get a little shiver of anticipation when I walk through those doors!
A great turnout for this event, there was a real buzz in the air as the audience waited for the event to start. Chaired by David Manderson both authors were invited to give a brief overview of their books.
Simon Cox, an Investigative Journalist for the BBC has just published “The Reykjavik Confessions: The Incredible True Story of Iceland’s Most Notorious Murder Case” a true story based on a famous case in Iceland in the 1970s where six people confessed to two murders they did not commit. It is a story of a tragic miscarriage of justice and of false memory syndrome. Forty years later this case is still active and waiting to be heard at the Supreme Court for the convictions to be quashed.
Ragnar Jonasson, author of the Dark Iceland series has just published , “The Darkness” the first in his new Hidden Iceland Trilogy. Ragnar has published 9 books in total and was quick to reassure the audience that the murder rate in Iceland bears no relation to the murder rates in his novels! Hidden Iceland features Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir, the polar opposite of Ari Thor. She is a 64-year-old woman facing retirement, a retirement she is definitely not ready to embrace! The trilogy was written in reverse order with book two featuring Hulda as a 50-year-old and book three where she is 40; it is her life story written backwards.
Both authors talked of Iceland being very much a character in their books; the landscape, culture and society lending itself so well to their work even though both were writing from a very different perspective. While the murder rate in Iceland may be low, Ragnar was quick to point out the stunning landscape can be deceptive and it is so very easy to go missing; he told the audience that “it’s very easy to die in Iceland”
Simon has also ventured into fiction and has almost finished writing a teenage dystopian novel; he does have a crime novel simmering away but had to “empty” his head following the intensive research that went into “The Reykjavik Confessions”. Listening to Simon talk about the case and the effects of the police interrogations on the individuals convicted of the murders was intriguing and this is a book that I most definitely want to read! Frightening but fascinating as we heard how the suspects were kept in isolation for years with their interrogators as their only human contact and just how false memory syndrome occurs. I could actually have listened to him talk about this case for hours!
Ragnar talked about the experience of writing a female character in her 60s as compared to the younger Ari Thor. He explained as a younger writer Ari Thor was a safer option as he could draw on his own experiences and as his confidence in writing grew it became easier to think outside of his own gender and age range. He did tell the audience that he made use of his mother in law for some of his research though!
All too soon the event was over, another outstanding event from Aye Write! And another two must reads added to my TBR pile!
The Darkness is available to purchase here
The Reykjavik Confessions is available to purchase here
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