Thursday 4 January 2024

The Dancer by Óskar Gudmundsson BLOG TOUR #TheDancer @oskargudmunds @CorylusB t.@graskeggur #BookReview


Tony is a young man who has always been on the losing side in life. 

He was brought up by his troubled, alcoholic mother who had a past of her own as a talented ballerina, until a life-changing accident brought her dreams to a sudden end. 

As her own ambitions for fame and success were crushed, she used cruel and brutal methods to project them onto her young son - with devastating consequences. 

There's no doubt that a body found on Reykjavik's OEskjuhlid hillside has been there for a long time. 

The case is handed to veteran detective Valdimar, supported by Ylfa, who is taking her tentative first steps as a police officer with the city's CID while coping with her own family difficulties. 

It's not long before it's clear a vicious killer is on the loose - and very little about the case is what it appears to be at first glance.

The Dancer by Óskar Gudmundsson is published by Corylus Books on 5 January 2024, and is translated by Quentin Bates. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour. 

The Dancer is the second of this author's books that I've read. Back in March 2022 I read and reviewed The Commandments and clearly remember the emotional punch that one dealt. 

What I really like about this author is his ability to pack so much into such short books. At just under two hundred pages, this one could be a one-sitting read. However, it's very very dark, it's violent and it's shocking. Maybe take a break half way through, to give your heart a little recovery. 

If you prefer your crime to be a little cosy, then this is probably not for you. If, however, you are a fan of the dark and the dangerous contained in a story that has an intriguing lead character and an opening chapter that almost knocks you out, then you are in for a treat! 

Gudmundsson takes no prisoners, he doesn't allow his readers a little time to settle in. No, he opens his novel with a scene that really takes some thought. It's so well written, it's almost like a film opening, unfurling bit by bit until the reader sees the whole dramatic episode. And it continues .... 

Tony is something of a loner. A skilled carpenter who works alongside his grandfather creating unique pieces of furniture by day. At night he changes. He's also a very talented dancer, tutored by his mother who was herself talented, before the accident that brought her career to the end. This is no ordinary teaching though and Tony's mother fears him every time the music begins. When he stumbles upon a dance company locally who need players for a production, the fear really begins. 

Theres's a touch of Hitchcock's 'Psycho' here, but it is darker and more devastating and very dramatic. In the beginning Tony seems flawed but harmless, but as the story expands, the reader realises that those flaws run so deep and when he discovers something relating to his mother's past, his quest for revenge is deadly. 

Expertly translated from Icelandic by Quentin Bates, this is another fine example of the crime fiction currently coming out of this small country. There's so much imagination in this story, so much fear and yes, it's violent, and yes it will shock. However, I'm eagerly awaiting the next book from this author. I thought it was excellent. 

With a unique voice and a style that doesn’t shy away from a sometimes graphic take on shocking subject matter, Óskar Guðmundsson is one of the rising stars of the Icelandic crime fiction scene.

His debut novel, Hilma, was awarded the Icelandic Crime Syndicate’s Drop of Blood award for the best crime novel of 2015. Since then he's been a regular on Iceland's bestseller lists.

Óskar’s talents don’t end there, as he’s also an artist and has held a number of exhibitions of his work.

Quentin Bates has roots in Iceland that go very deep, and in addition to his own fiction, he has translated many of Iceland’s coolest writers into English.

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