Thursday 31 August 2023

Murder at the Residence by Stella Blómkvist Trans. Quentin Bates BLOG TOUR #MurderAtTheResidence #StellaBlomkvist @Graskegur @CorylusB #BookReview


It’s New Year and Iceland is still reeling from the effects of the financial crash when a notorious financier is found beaten to death after a high-profile reception at the President’s residence.

The police are certain they have the killer – or do they? Determined to get to the truth, maverick lawyer Stella Blómkvist isn’t so sure.

A stripper disappears from one of city’s seediest nightspots, and nobody but Stella seems interested in finding her. A drug mule cooling his heels in a prison cell refuses to speak to anyone but Stella – although she’s never heard of him. An old man makes a deathbed confession and request for Stella to find the family he lost long ago.

With a sharp tongue and a moral compass all of her own, Stella Blómkvist has a talent for attracting trouble and she’s as at home in the corridors of power as in the dark corners of Reykjavík’s underworld.

Stella Blómkvist delivers an explosive mix of murder, intrigue and surprise, and is one of Iceland’s best-loved crime series.

Murder at the Residence by Stella Blómkvist was published by Corylus Books on 28 August 2023 and is translated by Quentin Bates. My thanks to the publisher who sent my book for review as part of this Blog Tour. 

This is the first of the Stella Blómkvist books to be translated for Corylus Books. The series is huge in Iceland and is also a major TV series. I hadn't heard of these books before, but after reading this first one, I'm already a fan! 

Stella is fabulous lead character, she's spiky, unusual, sometimes naughty and always on the ball. Whilst this is a relatively short novel of just over 250 pages, it is a truly a belter of a read. Packed with action, mystery and a great dose of humour too.

Stella is a well-known lawyer in Reykjavík, she often gets involved in cases that she thinks are being mishandled by the police. She really doesn't have much time for the force at all, nicknaming them 'the blackbirds' and speaking about them with scorn and mistrust. 

This story opens on New Year's Eve, Iceland is still recovering from the recent financial crash and Stella really wants to get drunk and have a good night. She's a solitary figure, roaming the streets and these scenes really set the reader up to discover more about her, and about the country. 

The President has hosted a very high profile drinks party at his residence and one of his guests, a very well know financier is found battered to death at a nearby church. The police are certain that they have the killer, but Stella is not so sure. She makes it her goal to discover the truth, whilst also working on her current cases. 

As Stella questions more and more people and begins to find links in all of her cases, the mystery deepens. The police chief is not happy about her so-called interference, and the local crime underworld are certainly not pleased that she's involved either. 

I love the character of Stella, she's a breath of fresh air in what can often be an genre overcrowded by stereotypical male characters. The insight into the workings of the Icelandic government, along with the darkest criminal behaviour is excellent, and readers will see that actually, there's not that much of a difference between them! Surprise, surprise. 

A fabulous introduction to Stella, I'm really looking forward to the next books in the series. 

The tales featuring razor-tongued Reykjavík lawyer Stella Blómkvist – with her taste for
neat whiskey, a liking for easy money and a moral compass all of her own – have been bestsellers in Iceland since the first of Stella’s escapades appeared in print back in the 1990s.

Since then, the author who calls herself (or himself) Stella Blómkvist has managed to remain anonymous. There has been endless speculation about who really writes the Stella Blómkvist novels, with the spotlight having focused over the years on numerous politicians, authors, journalists and others in the public eye. But so far the pseudonym still hasn’t been cracked.

The question of Stella Blómkvist’s identity is one that crops up regularly, but it looks like it’s going to remain a mystery…

Quentin Bates escaped English suburbia as a teenager, jumping at the chance of a gap
year working in Iceland. 

He is the author of a series of crime novels set in present-day Iceland (Frozen Out, Cold Steal, Chilled to the Bone, Winterlude, Cold Comfort and Thin Ice which have been published worldwide. 

He has translated all of Ragnar Jonasson' s Dark Iceland series.

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