This novel is set at the time of the first rumblings of the Icelandic financial crisis in 2008. It's a fairly straightforward police procedural, with a lot of legwork for the team which has been assembled to investigate two murders apparently linked to less than transparent business dealings involving at least one dodgy politician and his wife.
The real appeal of the book, however, lies in the characters and in particular Gunnhildur, a sergeant who, because of her conviction that the first death is murder, ends up leading the investigating team. Gunna is a breath of fresh air; a single parent with two children - neither of whom have drug problems, are runaways or are estranged - who uses her investigative skills, common sense, determination and leadership abilities to discover the truth.
The supporting cast is lively with some excellent characterisation; the dialogue is well written and convincing with plenty of humour throughout.
I would count myself as a fan of authors like Mankell, Nesbo, Karin Fossum and Hakan Nesser and have no problem with gritty stories and troubled main characters. It is good, though, to sometimes read a well written crime novel which is not persistently dark. This novel is more reminiscent of the Montalbano stories by Andrea Camilleri, which have great characterisation, humour and satisfying stories that are not always resolved in that justice is not always seen to be done. Gunna has the potential to be a memorable addition to detective fiction; I felt cheered by the time I finished the book, purely because of her energetic determination and her sense of excitement at what the future could hold. I hope that there is a sequel.