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Introducing Hulda Hermannsdóttir

I spent five years writing about young policeman Ari Thor in my Dark Iceland series and wanted to write about a character with a completely different background and set of experiences.

hidden iceland seriesUnlike Ari, who was twenty-four when we first met him, Hulda is a sixty-four year old female detective and at the beginning of The Darkness she is called into her boss’ office and asked to take early retirement. As Hulda suspects, he wants to make room for a young male office who will need her office. But before she leaves her boss offers her the chance to look into one cold case of her choosing. She decides to investigate the case of a young Russian woman who was found dead a year earlier.

I created the character of Hulda long before I started to write The Darkness. I made notes about her life right down to the smallest detail. I even wrote down the type of car she drove, a bright-green old Skoda, and submitted a single piece of paper to my publisher in Iceland to tell him this was the character I wanted to write about next. After that the Hidden Iceland trilogy – The Darkness, The Island and The Mist – was born. These books tell the story of both Hulda’s life and three different criminal investigations. We meet her at three different stages in her life, at the age of 64, then 50 and finally aged 40. In the first book the reader is made aware of the fact that she lives alone, having somehow lost her husband and only daughter and the mystery is unravelled throughout the series.

hidden icelandIn Icelandic, the name Hulda means ‘hidden woman’, and she has had an interesting and complex life to say the least. Her full name is Hulda Hermannsdóttir. According to the Icelandic naming system, this would mean her father’s name was Hermann, but in fact ‘Hermann’ means ‘soldier’ in Icelandic and that surname was sometimes given to children of British or American soldiers based in Iceland. We discover that Hulda’s father was an American soldier, and in the second book she goes to the US to look for him. Being the daughter of a single mother, Hulda suffered the fate of spending her first two years in a children’s home, only seeing her mother twice a week through a window – a story inspired by actual children’s homes in Reykjavik during that era. Throughout the series we follow Hulda’s career in the police force, a male dominated workplace where she is constantly hitting a glass ceiling in her struggle for recognition. The series is told in reverse chronology as I found the possibility of going back in time to explore Hulda’s character and history in more depth very intriguing.

Have you discovered the Hidden Iceland series yet? Let us know in the comments below!

best crime novels 2016
best crime novels 2016
Ragnar Jonasson

Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavík, Iceland, where he works as a writer and a lawyer and teaches copyright law at Reykjavík University. He has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, and, from the age of seventeen has translated fourteen of Agatha Christie’s novels. He is an international Number One bestseller.

Follow Ragnar on Twitter.


    I find it intriguing that the author translated Agatha Christie books into Icelandic, then had the Icelandic books translated by someone else into English.

    I love this series, but don’t want it to end. Please consider a resolution where she can come back!

    I would love to see resolution/justice for Hulda in a paranormal situation…

    For me, a seventy-something retired teacher, your choice of a woman nearing retirement (most unhappily) seemed an excellent marketing decision. As I read the final pages, my heart sank. On reflection, if readers can clamor, successfully, for more Holmes after The Final Problem, why not more Hulda? Three books cannot be enough.

    I don’t want to end this series I love the character Hulda, maybe because im an older woman so I can relate, any chance of doing more of her. she could work cold cases. almost finished with the darkness, so I don’t know what happens to her, please let it be good.

    Hulda is my favorite Ragnar Jonasson police protagonist. I can perfectly understand her seasoned yet lonely personality. She has much to put up with from her her male collegues despite having twice their intelligence and detective skills.

    I am curious about what actress the author would like to see play Hulda in the TV series

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