Frozen Out arrived at Schloss Random after a series of adventures and I am indebted to Emily at Constable & Robinson for her perseverance in making sure I received a copy. I had an email from Emily in January checking that the copy she had posted before Christmas had arrived safely - well it hadn't. As half my Christmas cards sent by me failed to reach their destination and I was receiving some well into New Year, did not surprise me that it had gone astray. So another one duly arrived and I started reading and was thoroughly enjoying when I went to London for a couple of days. Book came with me but when I returned discovered that book had remained somewhere in town and I could not track it down. A grovelling note to Emily and another one was duly dispatched and this time I was determined that it was going to be read before a bolt of lightning struck me or I was flooded out.
The last Icelandic thriller I tried floored me completely. The various names of all those involved left me floundering which is a bit daft considering I attend opera performances where the characters rejoice in names such as Grimgerde, Woglinde, Helmwige et al, but it just did so I decided to jot down who was who when I started Frozen Out. I soon found this was unnecessary as I had no difficulty this time at all - probably because the writing and plot were so much better than the earlier novel which I shall not name.
Main protagonist and the detective heading up a murder inquiry is Gunnhildur, a no nonsense lady who is more used to dealing with local traffic and burglary than a dead body washed up on a beach. Gunnhildur is a widow with two children, a son at sea and a teenage daughter at home and, for once, though there are hints that she might like a drink too much, we have a detective who had a happy marriage until her husband's death, and one who seems fairly content with her lot. No angst for the reader to deal with which is a blessed relief.
".......in spite of the broad shoulders, the solid woman with the short fair hair was not the bruiser Haddi had given him to expect. Although she would never be a beauty, she had an angular, handsome face that radiated authority"
(I have this annoying habit of casting characters as if in a film, annoying to me as once done I cannot get the actor's face out of my mind, but in this case I was quite happy to see Frances McDormand as Gunnur. She just seemed to fit somehow).
The death seems a natural one, the victim was drunk and fell off the quay, but those of us who are regular crimefic readers know that this is never the case and when there appears to be a link to an unsolved hit and run some months earlier, the hunt is up. The corpse in the water is identified as a man who worked for a large company in Iceland and it soon becomes clear that there are murky and fraudulent dealings going on with corruption in high places to which his death is linked.
Running alongside the police investigation, we are kept up to date with the goings on by a mysterious blogger who seems to have access to confidential information and is privy to the sexual antics of various ministers and influential businessmen and/or women, and part of the enjoyment of reading this book is to try and guess his/her identity.
Quentin Bates was born in England but ended up living in Iceland after initially going there for his gap year, which turned into a gap decade. He now lives in the UK but this book certainly utilises his knowledge of the country, along with a fascination with the recent upheaveals in Iceland's society and financial institutions of which we are all aware.
In Gunnhildur the author has created a likable, warm and sympathetic character who I took to straight away, the story is well plotted and amusing as well, particularly in the portrayal of an unspeakably awful CEO of one of the companies involved in the widespread corruption, a woman with a fearful temper and a penchant for making her Personal Assistants very personal indeed....
I found the denouement slightly vague with a few unsatisfactory matters left unresolved, including the identity of the blogger though a clue is given just before the final page is reached, but this is deliberate as the opening is now there for a further book. I do hope this is on the cards as I liked Frozen Out very much and delighted to discover another author to add to my increasing list of crime writers to Watch Out For.
My thanks once again to Emily for her patience with me and for supplying me with three copies and my apologies to Quentin Bates for depriving him of three sales. I hope he will like this review and forgive me my transgression.