Title – Cold Malice
Author – Quentin Bates
Published – June 2020
Genre – Crime fiction
It’s been a while since the last instalment featuring Gunnhildur Gísladóttir and it’s great that Quentin Bates has found the time between his role as a translator of Icelandic crime fiction, to bring us up to date.
If you’re not familiar with her, Gunnhildur is a detective in Reykjavík, trying to balance her chaotic personal life with her dogged determination to get to the truth.
There are two main investigations which from the basis of the book. Gunnhildur is called to the apparent suicide of a successful but reclusive artist, as she tries to establish the circumstances leading up to his death she is drawn to the mystery of his wife’s death some years earlier.
Gunnhildur’s colleague, Helgi, spots a ‘ghost’ as he travels home from his holiday abroad, he sees the face of a man who was declared dead fifteen years previously.
As both detectives try to get to the bottom of their cases we also follow Helgi’s mysterious ghost as he returns to his home for the first time since 2004. Despite the fact that he was able to just turn his back on his family and walk away from them, he’s been following his children’s lives from afar and his return is prompted by his son’s incarceration in prison for murder.
As the detectives pursue their cases we move from the celebrity of the art world to low-life drug dealers, the ups and downs of contemporary Iceland.
The series owes a lot to the sub-genre of ‘Nordic Noir’ – it makes the most of the atmosphere and location of Iceland, and provides a commentary on topical, social issues but it also adds to this by bringing to life a cast of characters, especially Gunnhildur, who are well drawn, developing over the course of the series.
As a fan of police procedurals this series ticks all the boxes for me.
This post is part of a blog tour to mark the publication of Cold Malice.