REVIEW

Fatal Isles, Wild Shores & Cruel Tides, Maria Adolfsson

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Having had the urge to try BorrowBox from our Library system recently, I happened upon the first three books in the Doggerland series by Maria Adolfsson - FATAL ISLES (2018), WILD SHORES (2019) and CRUEL TIDES (2020). It looks like there are three more books that haven't yet been translated into English. It's a series featuring Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby, and her (turns out fictional) native island of Doggerland (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doggerland).

The opening book, FATAL ISLES, introduces Eiken Hornby, providing a lot of detail about her tragic and complicated backstory, whilst she investigates the murder of Suzanne Smeed - the ex-wife of her boss - who died just after she was seen walking back to her own cottage on one of the smaller islands. The witness was Eiken Hornby, returning to her own home on a drive of shame (in her mind). The day before had been the local festival of Oistra, where people head out, drink a lot and eat oysters. At some stage during the night Eiken Hornby hooked up with her aforementioned boss Jounas Smeed and was horrified to wake up the next morning, in a hotel bed beside him. It all gets very messy as Smeed is stood aside from the investigation into his ex-wife's murder, and Eiken Hornby has to take the lead, despite not really wanting to confess who Smeed's alibi witness is. Meanwhile Smeed's daughter (with whom he has a fractious relationship) becomes friendly with Eiken Hornby, and a vicious serial rapist starts attacking what appears to be random women in the streets.

The second book, WILD SHORES, starts out with the body of a local man found in a flooded quarry on Christmas morning, this time, Eiken Hornby finds herself called back to duty early (she was badly injured during FATAL ISLES), leading an investigation on the home island of her father, due to staffing shortages. Back in her own home she's gained a couple of lodgers (guitarist, Leo, who was homeless in the first novel, and Smeed's daughter), and her mother and stepfather have come to stay for Christmas - a celebration they are now conducting in and around Eiken Hornby's job.

The third book, CRUEL TIDES, revolves around the secret return of a famous pop singer to the islands to record a comeback album. Whilst everything seems to be going well, her sudden disappearance brings Eiken Hornby into an investigation with tendrils leading back in Doggerland history, and family and friendship connections. Meanwhile the serial rapist in book one is still active, and increasingly dangerous. Eiken Hornby chaffs at the restrictions placed on her by Smeed - forced to search for a missing singer, when she would much rather be part of the taskforce trying to catch a murderous rapist. When eventually able to get involved, the threat of this man becomes more immediate.

Needless to say all three books so far have been heavily intertwined and it's hard to imagine being able to step into this series anywhere but the very beginning. Along with creating an incredibly realistic fictional location, Adolfsson has created an intricate history - for the place and the families within. Eiken Hornby's personal background is equally complicated - a child of Doggerland, she has a complicated relationship with her past, to say nothing of the present and future (a future that's gotten very complicated by the time the third book gets underway). 

It is a series that concentrates heftily on the personal - although the audio version of this did skip along at a good pace, and hearing the names and places pronounced is a completely different experience from what would have been my very hamfisted attempts if reading. 

I have no idea if this series would have hit my radar if it hadn't have been for the smaller selection of options available on BorrowBox, but I'm very glad it did. Despite the hefty amounts of personal angst (not a favourite element for this reader), there was much to be said for getting to know Karen Eiken Hornby, her friends, family and colleagues. The sense of place was so vivid, it was only after searching to find out more about it that I discovered the background. There's enough little touches of humour as well with the tensions between Scandinavian countries played with a little to lighten some of the darker aspects, and the storylines / plots were believable and very realistic. Well worth a listen, and here's hoping they get a move on with the next three books in the series.

 

BOOK DETAILS
BOOK INFORMATION
ISBN
9781867503965
Year of Publication
Series
Book Number (in series)
1
BLURB

A remote island. A brutal murder. A secret hidden in the past . . .

In the middle of the North Sea, between the UK and Denmark, lies the beautiful and rugged island nation of Doggerland.

Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby has returned to the main island, Heimö, after many years in London and has worked hard to become one of the few female police officers in Doggerland.

So, when she wakes up in a hotel room next to her boss, Jounas Smeed, she knows she's made a big mistake. But things are about to get worse: later that day, Jounas's ex-wife is found brutally murdered. And Karen is the only one who can give him an alibi.

The news sends shockwaves through the tight-knit island community, and with no leads and no obvious motive for the murder, Karen struggles to find the killer in a race against time.

Soon she starts to suspect that the truth might lie in Doggerland's history. And the deeper she digs, the clearer it becomes that even small islands can hide deadly secrets . . .

 

BOOK INFORMATION
ISBN
9781867559030
Year of Publication
Series
Book Number (in series)
2
BLURB

Detective Inspector Karen Hornby returns in this second thrilling novel from international bestselling author, Maria Adolfsson.

One terrible truth will create a perfect storm.

While her colleagues enjoy the seasonal festivities, DI Karen Hornby is called to investigate a suspicious death on the northernmost island of Doggerland. But how close to home is the truth of the case...

BOOK INFORMATION
Year of Publication
Series
Book Number (in series)
3
BLURB

A secluded island. A missing woman. An impossible choice.

Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby is not the only person to have returned to her native island nation, Doggerland, after years abroad. Following a ten-year hiatus, Luna has chosen to secretly record her comeback album where she was born and raised. Spirits are high among her team at the wrap party, though Karen is less than impressed with the simpering singer. The next morning, Luna is nowhere to be found.

Nothing goes unnoticed in the tight-knit community - certainly not the arrival, or disappearance, of a world-famous singer. So, while the rest of the force is frantically searching for a suspect whose brutal attacks on women are increasing in intensity and frequency, a reluctant Karen is tasked with discreetly looking into Luna's whereabouts.

As time ebbs away so does the possibility of finding Luna alive, while Karen faces seemingly impossible choices, ones that could spell life or death, both for herself and others.

Review Fatal Isles, Wild Shores & Cruel Tides, Maria Adolfsson
Karen Chisholm
Friday, April 28, 2023

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