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edhancox@lineone.net (Shropshire, UK)

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Cold Comfort (Gunnhildur Mystery 2)
Cold Comfort (Gunnhildur Mystery 2)
by Quentin Bates
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reykjavik's finest?, 26 Aug 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 `Hę' 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 Nesbų and Arnaldur Indrišason. 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.


It's A Wonderful Life
It's A Wonderful Life
Price: £7.51

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He's electric!, 11 Jun 2001
This review is from: It's A Wonderful Life (Audio CD)
In 1996 Mark Linkous (the man behind Sparklhorse) caused serious injury to himself by way of electrocution, although this didn't prevent him from appearing at that years Reading festival in a wheel chair, or producing on of the most innovative albums of that year. This album continues where Vivadixie..., Good Morning Spider, and Distorted Ghost Ep left off, and does not disappoint.
Initially Sparklehorse were championed by REM frontman Michael Stipe, but have sinced been joined by a futher number of celebrity bandwagon-jumpers. Heard here are PJ Harvey, Tom Waits and Nina Persson (Cardigans) and John Parish. Its A Wonderful Life sounds fantastic, Marks voice is perhaps more distinct, and you get swept along in a torent of crazy lyrics ("Circus People with hairy little hands!"), lush string arrangements, Lo-Fi style techniques, and a sense of melancholy.
If you like Eels, Grandaddy, and the like, this is definately worth investigating...


Songs From The Rain
Songs From The Rain

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic?, 3 Jun 2001
This review is from: Songs From The Rain (Audio CD)
If you have never heard any material from the 'Flowers before, this is an ideal place to start. I bought this album years ago & it lives in my CD player! This album is classy, sassy & very, very catchy. Although their sound is organic & earthy, pitched somewhere between James and The Waterboys, it is all tied together by Liam O'Maonlai strong vocal performance (esp. on This Is it, and One Tongue). Lyrically the band veer very close to Neil Finn of Crowded House, and all the songs sound as if they would be at equally at home in the biggest stadium or between the sheets of your bed! Even on the faster numbers the band pull off it off with a touch of magic:- Check out Thing Of Beauty & Isn't It Amazing. This is the sound of a band nearing perfection, a trick that Hothouse Flowers may never repeat.


Time for the Rest of Your Life
Time for the Rest of Your Life
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £10.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars under-rated is a cliche!, 26 Mar 2001
Although Strangelove are no more, and it seems they are missed by no-one, this is a fine, fine album with lots to offer. Initially championed by Q back in '96 the band got nowhere, which is a real shame, as you will see if you buy this album. Think Placebo, Smashing Pumpkins and REM and you wont be far off. Plus Patrick can really scream "Christ!" in such a way it will make your dog yelp and run and hide!


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