Customer Reviews


 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid read
Michael Ridpath is a brave author.Having written 8 successful financial thrillers ,his latest novel
(the first of a series)is set in Iceland.Iceland with its population of just over 300,000 already has
two excellent renowned indigenous crime writers in Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdardottir.Yet,
despite the odds ,Ridpath has pulled it off.He has...
Published on 9 Jun. 2010 by Simon Clarke

versus
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not complete
Firstly, I enjoyed this book as an easy holiday read. I am a big fan of Scandinavian crime fiction, but although set in Iceland, this book is not of that genre. It is firmly from the English "crossword puzzle" murder mystery line.

The plot is highly original, linking modern crime with Tolkein and Iceland's early history, but that linkage also makes the...
Published on 2 July 2011 by Mr. Stephen Edwards


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid read, 9 Jun. 2010
By 
Simon Clarke (Hackney, London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Michael Ridpath is a brave author.Having written 8 successful financial thrillers ,his latest novel
(the first of a series)is set in Iceland.Iceland with its population of just over 300,000 already has
two excellent renowned indigenous crime writers in Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdardottir.Yet,
despite the odds ,Ridpath has pulled it off.He has written a well-researched exciting thriller with
a vivid sense of place.

Magnus Jonson is a detective in Boston USA,of Icelandic descent,who has been seconded to work with
the Reykjavik police as part of his witness protection programme,someone wants him dead.Upon arrival
in Iceland,a Professor of Icelandic studies is murdered.It soon becomes apparent that this death is
related to 800 year old saga,and a powerful ring,which inspired Tolkein's 'Lord of the Rings'.

The fast-moving plot takes us deep into the saga'a history,and is set against the backdrop of the
sinister beauty ,of post credit-crunch, Iceland.A splendid read.Very highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Return To Form for Michael Ridpath, 18 Feb. 2011
By 
C. Green "happily low brow" (Quenington, Glos, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I first came across Michael Ridpath when his debut novel Free to Trade was published back in the mid-nineties. At the time it made a bit of a stir with its, then, fresh mixing of murder mystery and financial thriller. It was also a pretty decent book, even if not a classic. After Free to Trade the author continued to mine the same 'financial thriller-cum-whodunnit' seam for the next ten years. Some of his earlier efforts, such as Trading Reality, were okay, although they've dated badly. Later novels however, began to feel tired and derivative and after tackling On the Edge I felt he'd gone to the 'evil financier in diabolical plot' well once too often and I skipped his next novel See No Evil.

I've been tempted back by his latest thriller, 'Where the Shadows Lie', by both the positive reviews it was receiving on Amazon and the fact that for the first time the author has used a setting that isn't even indirectly related to high finance or big business. Instead 'Where the Shadows Lie' is a murder-mystery set almost entirely in Iceland and focused on the history and myths of that small but remarkable country.

For a British author of financial thrillers this sounds like quite a big leap in terms of subject matter and genres, but it is one that Ridpath makes with reasonable success. The central mystery itself feel original and is complex enough to keep this particular reader guessing until well into the book's final third. The characters are, for the most part, reasonably well conceived and drawn, even if Ridpath lumbers his lead, Icelandic/American Cop Magnus, with an unncecessarily convoluted backstory. The sense of place, vital for a book of this sort where the location is a selling point, is strong and you get a real feel for Iceland, its people and its culture. Even the fictional links between the murder-mystery and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, a plot device that could have felt vaguely ridiculous, work well and give the story a fresh twist. Ridpath manages to keep things grounded whilst allowing just enough of a hint of a supernatural undertone to creep into the narrative to spice it up.

It all makes for a highly enjoyable and very satisfying read. Its not going to win any awards for being high art or rewrite the thriller rulebook; Ridpath's prose style is too functional and prosaic, lacking any real lyricism, and there are plenty of writers pumping out thrillers set in Scandinavia and Iceland. Nor is it by any means perfect. In addition to some questionable decisions about Magnus' backstory there's also a somewhat superfluous and underpowered romance tacked on and a vaguely ridiculous 'hitman' subplot that should have been jetisoned. Despite these flaws however, 'Where the Shadows Lie' marks a welcome return to form, as well as a fresh approach, for Michael Ridpath. I will be interested to see where he takes Magnus in the next book in what is being called the 'Fire and Ice' series, 66 North (Fire and Ice).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read, 6 Jun. 2010
By 
H. Silvester - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ridpath interwines Icelandic culture and language is neatly interwoven with a fastpace plot that keeps the reader guessing until the end. The central character is well developed; Ridpath explores his background that was also centered in Iceland, bringing both the character and Icelandic history to life. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes crime fiction, has an interest in Iceland or fans of Lord of the Rings. The author also gives a note at the end, explaining what is his own and invention and what is real, which proves useful as Ridpath demonstates a wonderful ability to blur the line between fact and fiction.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not complete, 2 July 2011
By 
Mr. Stephen Edwards "se1955" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Firstly, I enjoyed this book as an easy holiday read. I am a big fan of Scandinavian crime fiction, but although set in Iceland, this book is not of that genre. It is firmly from the English "crossword puzzle" murder mystery line.

The plot is highly original, linking modern crime with Tolkein and Iceland's early history, but that linkage also makes the storyline pretty unlikely and the solution to the puzzle becomes obvious about two thirds of the way through.

Our hero, Jonson or Ragnarsson is a bit of an idiot, really, too dim to avoid antagonising the Icelandic police, and too weak willed to avoid getting paralytic at on obviously awkward moment. Unfortunately, I found that,even then, he was still about the most believable character, and therein lies the biggest weakness with this novel.

Unlikely plot, notwithstanding, if this story had decent characterisation, it would be a first rate murder mystery novel. Even so, the original plot, interesting setting and good pace make it an enjoyable read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Deep in the shade (paperback edition - not kindle), 4 Jun. 2012
By 
Noel (Belfast, UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Several years ago I read Michael Ridpath's financial thriller 'Free to Trade' which I thoroughly enjoyed. I came to this book with great hopes.

This is a detective story which spans the Atlantic. It starts with corruption and murder in Boston but quickly moves across the Atlantic to Iceland with the key character, where another story is worked out, leaving the Boston mayhem more or less in abeyance. Ridpath paints quite a vivid picture of Iceland's bleak landscape. He doesn't make it sound attractive but he certainly makes it sound interesting. I found the story's plot less of a pull than the bleak landscape and struggled to get to the end.

The main character in the book is Magnus Jonson the American/Icelander; a detective; hiding out in Iceland pending a Boston trial where he will be witness against some corrupt colleagues in the police force. He was born in Iceland and the ghosts of his past stalk him in Rekyavik. The storyline as a whole is one of the past haunting the present. A long-hidden and secret Icelandic Saga comes to light and ruins or ends the lives of those who seek it. There is a (possibly) ancient ring involved which reputedly carries the power to destroy its owner. If you enjoy Icelandic sagas, Tolkein and the Lord of the Rings, you will probably lap this up.

I am not a fan of elves and fairies and consequently found this element of the book a struggle or perhaps a saga. So the whole experience was a bit of a disappointment for me.

The book is clearly written with a sequel or two in mind. The author alludes to Magnus's desire to uncover the mystery of his Icelandic past why may provide the explanantion for his father's unsolved murder in Boston. This sounds like much more hopeful ground for me. He's done the little folk to death in this book, I hope they are not resurrected in the next.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Modern crime thriller meets Lord of the Rings - Sounds strange? But works quite well, 25 April 2011
By 
EllyBlue (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The story begins with an American detective of Icelandic descent returning to Iceland for his own safety while he waits to give evidence in the trial of a corrupt police officer in the USA. He is sent to work with the Icelandic police, and soon finds himself a memeber of a team investigating the suspicious death of an academic who was an expert on Icelandic sagas. It becomes evident that the sagas themselves, and their possible connection with Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" may provide the motive for murder. The story just manages to stay the right side of improbable and the plot moves along at a cracking pace. I enjoy Scandinavian crime fiction partly for its ability to convey a sense of place, and although this isn't written in a particularly literary or florid style, Ridpath still provides some evocative descriptions of the Icelandic landscape, a sense of its history and also of its current society. I found the subplot relating to the trial in America a bit of a distraction, although I understand how it was necessary to get Magnus to Iceland in the first place. I hope and expect that the author will develop the story of Magnus's early life and that of his parents in later books in this series.
An enjoyable and unusual read with a real Icelandic flavour.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promising beginning ......, 13 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When I started this book it seemed promising --- it is reasonably well written and I liked the idea of a murder mystery set in Iceland. But the further I got into the story the more my doubts grew, and by the end I was just relieved to get it out of the way with a strong resolution never to read another book by Mr Ridpath. The premise of the storyline is intriguing, but as a police procedural it is very simplistic, and as a thriller it's very predictable. The main problem however, is that the hero is just so unlikeable: he's violent, arrogant and smug with an over-inflated idea of his own competence and importance. You don't necessarily have to like the hero to have a successful book, but when he irritates you as much as Magnus Jonson does, you're in trouble.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, 23 May 2011
Magnus is a Boston detective who is got out for his own protection as he is a witness in a case. He goes to Iceland because he was born there of Icelandic parents but spent his life from his teenage years in America. He is ostensibly there to give the Icelandic police the benefit of his knowledge in serious crime but the local detective he is assigned to work with resents his presence. After only a few days Magnus manages to give him plenty of reasons for side-lining him from a murder investigation.

I enjoyed it but it is not the average police procedural. There are plenty of detectives who break the rules to get results and we love them for it. Here, if Magnus gets results it is in spite of and not because of his rule-breaking. The investigation seems to be out of control very soon with Magnus off doing his own thing and the local man ignoring or impeding him. Other officers are either spooked by witnesses or have vital clues but don't follow them up. Magnus never seems to be able to cope with the idea that he has to be able to do his job with out a gun to hand and that things are done differently in Iceland. The police Commissioner is the most level-headed of them all.

It could have been irritating but instead I found the whole thing very refreshing and enjoyed it. I was rooting for Magnus to succeed, although I am not sure I am sufficiently interested in Magnus to follow him into other stories. The story has links to Icelandic sagas and Tolkien which are interesting and fun, not at all overdone or straining credulity.

The author puts in just the right amount of local detail to give a sense of place and doesn't put in too much just to show what he knows. I didn't feel I was being forced to remember at all times that the story was set in Iceland - it just was and very interesting it was too.

I was listening to an unabridged reading (hence I have not risked any character names other than Magnus) and Sean Barrett's reading is spirited and excellent, and I would recommend it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fire and brimstone..., 4 May 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have been a great fan of Arnaldur Indrišason, Jar City (Reykjavik Murder Mysteries 1)and was delighted to find two further writers of Icelandic crime fiction within a week, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Last Rituals, and this book by Michael Ridpath. I think I preferred Where the Shadows Lie by Ridpath by a small margin, although it is odd how both these 'new-to-me' writers have concerned themselves with huge amounts of detail and research on witchcraft (Sigurdardottir) and folklore/Lord of the Rings, in the case of Ridpath. Both plots would have been the stronger if they had concentrated more on the crime investigation and less on the research, in my opinion. It is hard enough committing all the strange Icelandic names to memory, without having to try to follow weird diversions into folklore and Tolkien (whom I haven't read and don't think I ever will).

The Boston detective, Magnus Jonson, seconded to Iceland has the usual frailty concerning drink, the necessary but hardly new, conflict with his new boss and the burgeoning of a love interest that is satisfactorily there but not too dominant - the makings of a good crime novel with a pretty good ending not signalled too soon. And of interest to both male and female readers - very important with a slightly larger percentage of female readers in the market these days.

This first book of the new series of Fire and Ice Icelandic crime was good enough to get me interested in buying the next in series, 66 North, 66 Degrees North (Fire & Ice 2), which is just out - but still a bit expensive for my Kindle just yet. I am hoping that this will be a long series and that the author will have settled into the 'skin' of his main protagonist and will produce a new title annually!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting lead character and premise, so-so story, 22 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Where the Shadows Lie (Fire & Ice 1) (Paperback)
The strength of Where the Shadows Lie are the lead character, the outsider-insider storyline, and contextualisation with respect to the Tolkein and Lord of the Rings. Magnus Jonson is a strong and engaging lead character who has been unsettled by a corruption case in Boston, moving back to Iceland, and splitting with his long-term partner. Born in the country, able to speak and read the language, and being familiar with its lore, but having left for the US when he was twelve, Magnus is both an insider and outsider; a square peg looking to fit a round hole, but nevertheless a peg. The other characterisation is also generally good, with an interesting cast. The link between Tolkein and a long lost Icelandic saga seems both plausible and credible, though the plotline concerning the ring, as opposed to the manuscript, seemed a little ridiculous and over-wrought. Indeed, the plot does lack credibility at a number of different points, including the premise for him being sent to Iceland (which should rest on the months of FBI case building and not him witnessing one exchange), and his relationship with Colby (which seemed long over). Moreover, the writing is often quite pedestrian and flat, lacking in engaging prose and with too much show rather than tell. Overall, an interesting lead character and I'd try the second book in the series, in which the plotting is hopefully a little less fanciful.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Where the Shadows Lie (Fire & Ice 1)
Where the Shadows Lie (Fire & Ice 1) by Michael Ridpath (Paperback - 1 Feb. 2011)
£6.39
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews