I've been so looking forward to catching up with Officer Gunnhildur. Chilled To The Bone by Quentin Bates is number three in the series of Icelandic murder mystery stories that feature Gunna as the lead character. Frozen Out (2011) and Cold Comfort (2012) are the first two books, you can read my thoughts about those here.
Chilled To The Bone was published by Constable & Robinson's crime imprint C&R Crime on 18 April 2013. Although this is number three in the series, it could be read as a stand alone, but personally I would advise anyone to start with the first novel.
Sergeant Gunnhildur Gisladottir finds herself heading up what starts as a fairly straightforward investigation. A local businessman is found dead in a hotel bedroom, there is no evidence that this was a murder but as Gunna makes more enquiries, she finds herself slap-bang in the middle of something that is beginning to get dangerous. It appears that there is a bondage ring operating in the city. It seems that this is not the first time a wealthy businessman has been found in an incriminating position in an upmarket hotel yet people are loathe to speak out - they seem very scared. At the same time, local Government officers are making a fuss about a mislaid laptop, putting pressure on Gunna and her department to pull out all the stops to find it.
Quentin Bates has produced an intricate, finely plotted detective story which has some really menacing undertones. Gunna is an amazing lead character; realistic and bold, with secrets of her own that yet again Bates has refused to fully disclose. There is something compelling about this character, she has a history that is very slowly being revealed throughout the series in snippets and leaves the reader wanting to know what? why? how?
As in both of the previous novels, I do sometimes become a little muddled by the long, and quite strange looking Icelandic names of the character - but of course, for realism, they have to be included, and as the story progresses the reader does get to know the lead players very well.
A fast-paced crime novel, with great characters, a clever plot and a smattering of humour. Bring on the next instalment!
I was lucky enough to meet author Quentin Bates at the launch party for C&R Crime a couple of months ago, it was great to chat to him about Gunna and her exploits, although he wasn't giving anything away about her secrets.
Although born in the UK in 1962, through a series of coincidences Quentin Bates found himself working in Iceland in his gap year. The gap year then became 10 years, during which time he managed to get himself married, produce a family, and generally go native in Iceland. The family then moved back to the UK in 1990 where Quentin became a full-time journalist on a commercial fishing magazine. Frozen Assets was born through the author's own inside knowledge of Iceland and its society, along with exploring the world of crime. He and his (Icelandic) wife frequently return to Iceland, where they have manyfriends, including several in the Reykjavik police.
Check out Quentin Bates' website at http://graskeggur.com/ You can follow him on Facebook here , and his Twitter account is here
My thanks to Quentin Bates for sending me a signed copy of the novel.