We are great fans of a good island-set crime-fiction novel. Scandinavian writer Maria Adolfsson’s Fatal Isles, translated into English by Agnes Broome, is set on the fictional Doggerland, a cluster of islands which lie between Denmark and the UK, and a melting pot of cultures.

Recently returned to Doggerland after many years in London, DI Karen Eiken Hornby is one of the few female police officers there. She has worked hard to get where she is and she’s good at what she does. As the book opens, she’s made one bad decision: after a heavy night at the oyster festival held on Heimö, the main island, she wakes up in bed with Jounas Smeed, her boss. Later Karen discovers that Smeed’s ex-wife, Susanne, has been brutally murdered and that she is not only heading the investigation but is now also Jounas’s alibi.

As the news spreads across the island, Karen endeavours to investigate the crime, while maintaining her dignity, and, as she delves into Susanne’s life, she begins to realise that the answer to the murder may lie in the secrets of the past.

Adolfsson’s Dogger Islands are well realised, the author skilfully creating an authentic, atmospheric landscape in which the natural and considerable beauty of the environment masks the tensions brewing beneath.

This is a good debut. We look forward to reading the author’s future books.


Fatal Isles | Maria Adolfsson | Zaffre | 25 February 2021 | paperback

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Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for the invitation to/organising the tour and to the publisher for sending us a review copy. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved. Please check out the other lovely reviews on this tour.

Also of interest: The Stone Diaries’; ‘Alice Walker and the power of poetry‘; ‘By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Sylvia Plath on poetry‘; ‘WB Yeats, “The Journey of the Magi“‘; ‘Yvonne Battle-Fenton’s Remembered‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

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