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The discovery of a corpse washed up on a beach in an Icelandic backwater sparks a series of events that propels the village of Hvalvik's police sergeant Gunnhildur into deep waters.
Although under pressure to deal with the matter quickly, she is suspicious that the man's death was no accident and once she has identified the body, sets about investigating his final hours.
The case takes Gunnhildur away from her village and into a cosmopolitan world of shady deals, government corruption and violence.
She finds herself alone and less than welcome in this hostile environment as she tries to find out who it was that made sure the young man drowned on a dark night one hundred kilometres from where he should have been - and why.