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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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This is the second in the series by Quentin Bates featuring Sergeant Gunnhildur, otherwise known as Gunna, and is set in Iceland. The first book; Frozen Out was published in January 2011, you can read my review of it here.

Cold Comfort was published by Constable Robinson in March of this year. Gunna has been promoted and is now working in the Serious Crime Unit in the capital city of Reykjavik, a big change from her previous posting in a small, slow-moving town.
Gunna finds herself heading up two separate crime investigations, at least they seem to be pretty separate at first, but deeper investigation soon turns up quite a few links between the cases. The first case seems pretty straight forward; a prison inmate has escaped and is dealing out his own form of punishment to his old acquaintances. The second case is a murder - a C list celebrity who has been discovered murdered in her flat.
As with Frozen Out, this is a well thought out story, with an intricate and well woven plot line. I enjoyed the twists and turns of the story, I enjoyed getting to know a little more about Gunna (although she's very close, and doesn't reveal much). Just one minor issue for me, as with the first novel, is the long Icelandic names of the characters. It's very easy to get them muddled up, many of them sound the same and look the same, and it was quite some time into the novel before I got to grips with just who is who.

This certainly does not spoil the book at all. Gunna is a great heroine and the tantalising glimpses into her past history and her current private life certainly set the reader up for more to come in this series.

I will certainly be following Gunna's next move and look forward to more in the series.
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on 26 August 2012
Nick-named `Graskeggur' by his Icelandic grandmother, as the letter `Q' doesn't exist in Icelandic, Quentin Bates is a writer for an obscure nautical magazine. Thankfully, he is a talented fiction writer, and not just adept to explaining port from starboard.
Cold Comfort is his second work of fiction, and once more features Sergeant Gunnhildur as she investigates crimes, this time in modern day Reykjavík. Gunnhildur also has a team, I should add, but the book is hung around her as the central character. Gunnhildur is investigating the murder of a fitness guru / slight shady local celebrity Svana Geirs, whilst at the same time chasing an escaped convict. There are some other goings on, but I'm not about to reveal them, nor any more of the plot either.
Gunnhildur is a more than plausible character, with a back-story and intimate details (for example, some suggestive texts on her mobile phone) to back this up. Her world, too, feels realistic and is a well-portrayed slice of Reykjavik life, complete with post-financial crisis nuances, such as her unit being short-staffed and her on-going battle to get to her rightful pay grade. Further nods to Reykjavik life lie within the importance of iPhones and Blackberrys, the near constant drinking of coffee and in case you should forget, the ubiquitous `Hæ' at the start of each conversation.
Is this just another piece of Nordic Noir Crime writing? No, I don't think so. I think Bates has sidestepped that genre, the world of Jo Nesbø and Arnaldur Indriðason. Instead he chooses a more traditional set of rules and plot lines, and serves it with a portion of dark humour. The combination is one which feels like right. It doesn't feel as bombastic or drawn out as the aforementioned crime writers; it has a more gentle, real life feel to it. I suspect hard research with the Icelandic Police and a year of living in the country has paid off in this respect.
The dark humour runs through the entire story; a character receives a reminder through the post to service a jeep his financial hardship has just forced him to sell, and Gunnhildur herself has echoes of the Coen brothers' Marge Gunderson in Fargo. `Are you sure he didn't fall on something and then drive himself to hospital afterwards?' she asks at one point `What? With a hosepipe gaffer taped to the exhaust?' comes the reply.
Like I say, I'm not about to blow out the plot here. That's not for me to say. What is for me to say is that this is a bloody good read, especially if you have a thing for the northern most capital city in the world, and fancy a bit of dark humour with your crime investigations. Good work, Graskeggur.
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on 2 April 2012
There is much to enjoy in this second novel featuring
the fascinating Sergeant Gunnhildur.She has been moved
from her rural post to head-up a new serious crime unit
in the capital,Reykjavik.
She and her small team are faced with both tracking down
a violent escaped prisoner,and dealing with the murder of
a female socialite TV personality.As the somewhat complex
plot develops ,figures in the political and business elite
become suspects.
Aside from an engaging plot, this novel touches on the many
ways in which the financial crash affected the whole rubric
of Iceland and its citizens,and also there is the marvellous
character of Gunnhildur-caring,sharp and witty.
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on 25 July 2013
Gunnhildur, her family, colleagues and boss are likeable people. The boss is supportive. This is unlike so many crime novels where the main character is flawed, others antagonistic etc. The story is good and overall just a good, interesting read.
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on 6 March 2016
I'm slowly starting to get my head around Icelandic names, but some are so similar I did get a few of the characters mixed up. This is a good story, with plenty of twists and turns. It shows that the result of the 'crash' had in some parts, a massive effect throughout Icelandic life, and that the police struggled just as much with cutbacks as everyone else.
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on 30 September 2013
This book, set in modern Iceland, features Gunnhildur ('Gunna,' as most Icelanders seem to have diminutive nicknames), a female police detective sergeant promoted from a coastal village near Reykjavik to a posting in the city. Gunna balances being a single, widowed mum with police work that depends on thoroughness and diligent effort rather than flashes of inspiration. A small-time TV celebrity is found murdered in her apartment and the following investigation reveals a tangled web of corruption and deceit amongst politicians and businessmen, with some rather unpleasant members of the criminal fraternity involved. This new (to me) genre of Scandinavian literature expands on the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian books I've loved, with the twist of being created by an Englishman with extensive knowledge of the country. I'm not sure how I discovered the Gunnhildur series, probably an Amazon deal, but I've moved straight from finishing 'Cold Comfort' to 'Frozen Out,' which probably reflects my enjoyment of the style. So far (70%+ and loving it as well), it's an interesting and satisfying way to read a series. Although there's plenty waiting to be read in my Kindle, Mr Bates will feature in future browsing of Amazon's 'shelves'. It's interesting that this female protagonist has not been created as anything but a basic ('large, with a face to frighten horses') person with normal personality traits, rather than a glamorous vixen - almost a feminist approach; very interesting and realistic. The use of some English slang in the dialogue actually adds to the realism for me. The sombre subject of the story is lifted by the humour and banter amongst the police officers, giving a depth and realism to the characters (as it's a Scandinavian story, much coffee is consumed).
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on 10 April 2013
I enjoy reading about Iceland and enjoy Bates' books, but I find something less than realistic as I read. Maybe due to a man writing about a woman's feelings or emotions. Yet, I have enjoyed the first two books in his Gunnhildur series.
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on 13 November 2012
Enjoyed it but I agree with the other reviewers about the difficulties with names. Since this is intended for English speaking audiences maybe the author shoul choose some simpler Icelandic names in future
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on 6 September 2013
This is the second Quentin Bates book I've read, having very much enjoyed the first one. The author seems to be settling into his stride here with his Icelandic detective Gunnhildur. Interesting complex plotting where the murder of a minor celebrity leads to a further investigation into the fraudulent dealings in the world of high up Icelandic politicians and businessmen, well rounded, believeable characters (especially the tough but compassionate Gunna), good writing and dialogue. An added bonus is that, despite being set in Iceland, there's no torture involving people or animals - several murders, but no sadism! Can't wait to read the next one.
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on 4 September 2014
I gave Gunna 4 stars in her first outing, but I am giving her 5 stars after the second volume in the series because I am so taken with her character. Quentin Bates has created a wonderful woman detective who is competent and respected for her skill, tough when she has to be, angry and outspoken when necessary, compassionate and empathetic when appropriate, and tired and grumpy when frustrated. In other words, a character the reader can believe in, and that includes her personal life as a widow raising a teenage daughter and finding a new partner. As in the first book of the series, background of the crimes remain tied to the financial collapse and the close interconnection of politicians, businessmen, police, and ordinary citizens in a very small country where winners expect to be protected and losers have few options. The Icelandic names are difficult to keep straight due to their frequent similarity, especially with the huge cast of characters in this book, but it's a worthy challenge in reading.
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