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


28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder in Iceland
This is a well crafted first crime novel by a new author featuring an Icelandic village police sergeant Gunnhildur Gisladottir, a "big fat lass with a face that frightens the horses", whose single-minded and sometimes unwanted investigation into a local drowning leads her and her team into the murky world of big business and corruption at high government levels...
Published on 2 Feb. 2011 by John L. Piper

versus
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising start
The last Icelandic thriller I tried floored me completely. The various names of all those involved left me floundering which is a bit daft considering I attend opera performances where the characters rejoice in names such as Grimgerde, Woglinde, Helmwige et al, but it just did so I decided to jot down who was who when I started Frozen Out. I soon found this was...
Published on 14 Feb. 2011 by Elaine Simpson-long


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

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder in Iceland, 2 Feb. 2011
By 
John L. Piper (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a well crafted first crime novel by a new author featuring an Icelandic village police sergeant Gunnhildur Gisladottir, a "big fat lass with a face that frightens the horses", whose single-minded and sometimes unwanted investigation into a local drowning leads her and her team into the murky world of big business and corruption at high government levels.
Quentin Bates presents a study of modern Iceland and its inhabitants that cleverly encourages readers to wish to know more about both the country and sergeant Gunnhildur, hopefully pointing to future books. His comments and asides on things such as social niceties, food, personal names and so forth add authentic detail to his tale, Scandinavian names were not as great a problem as I first feared and in fact add a sense of place to the story. I would have wished perhaps for a little more on Icelandic flora and fauna in order to help me see the country through Gunnhildurs eyes but a minor quibble on what is otherwise an excellent book.
Iceland is presented as a country where everyone knows everyone and everyones business, moving at its owned relaxed pace but now rapidly becoming more cosmopolitan and having to deal with the problems that such modernity can bring. In this case big money, corruption and murder - never again will I think of Iceland as just fishing boats, volcanoes and Vikings!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More please!, 28 May 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good start to Icelandic noir series, 28 Jan. 2011
By 
Maxine Clarke "Maxine of Petrona" (Kingston upon Thames, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Gunnhildur Gisladottir, otherwise known as Gunna the Cop, is an experienced sergeant who runs a police team in Hvlalvik, south-west Iceland. She's dedicated and talented, but being a middle-aged woman she's been sidelined by various ambitious (mainly) male colleagues who have ended up with plum jobs in more central locations. Gunna is happy enough, though: she loves her job and though she's had sadnesses in her past (revealed as the book progresses) she lives a calm-enough existence with her teenage daughter, occasionally visited by her grown-up son.

The calm does not last for long, though, as a young man's body is found early one morning in the harbour, by one of the local fishermen. Gunna soon tracks down his identity, which causes her unpleasant boss palpitations. Gunna isn't deterred by this nervousness from on-high, of course, and pursues her investigation relentlessly, soon connecting the death with a hit-and-run accident of a year or so ago elsewhere in the country, and gradually realising that many forces - environmental, financial and more - are involved.

Iceland is rich in crime fiction - Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdardottir's novels, the former police procedurals featuring a depressed detective inspector and the latter mysteries solved by the insatiably curious Thora, an independently minded lawyer, are translated into English and deservedly popular internationally. Michael Ridpath last year published the first in a series of Iceland-set thrillers, which provide a more tourist-like perspective of the country. Quentin Bates's novel is a welcome addition to this geographical genre. The book is a classic police procedural: extremely well written with a good ear for dialogue and characterisation. It is replete with local detail and will satisfy the most avid person's curiosity about the Icelandic way of life (including the diet!) and psyche. (The author has lived in Iceland for many years.) Gunna is an admirable protagonist: sensible, intelligent and determined. The plot is strong and with its interspersed chapters by an anonymous blogger who writes scandalous pieces about the country's great and the good (much to their discomfort) bang up to date - not least in its themes of financial meltdown. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and can recommend it very highly as a flying start to what seems to be shaping up to be a superb new series.

Review first published at Euro Crime, [...]
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising start, 14 Feb. 2011
By 
Elaine Simpson-long (Colchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
The last Icelandic thriller I tried floored me completely. The various names of all those involved left me floundering which is a bit daft considering I attend opera performances where the characters rejoice in names such as Grimgerde, Woglinde, Helmwige et al, but it just did so I decided to jot down who was who when I started Frozen Out. I soon found this was unnecessary as I had no difficulty this time at all - probably because the writing and plot were so much better than the earlier novel which I shall not name (IMHO of course).

Main protagonist and the detective heading up a murder inquiry is Gunnhildur, a no nonsense lady who is more used to dealing with local traffic and burglary than a dead body washed up on a beach. Gunnhildur is a widow with two children, a son at sea and a teenage daughter at home and, for once, though there are hints that she might like a drink too much, we have a detective who had a happy marriage until her husband's death, and one who seems fairly content with her lot. No angst for the reader to deal with which is a blessed relief.

".......in spite of the broad shoulders, the solid woman with the short fair hair was not the bruiser Haddi had given him to expect. Although she would never be a beauty, she had an angular, handsome face that radiated authority"

The death seems a natural one, the victim was drunk and fell off the quay, but those of us who are regular crimefic readers know that this is never the case and when there appears to be a link to an unsolved hit and run some months earlier, the hunt is up. The corpse in the water is identified as a man who worked for a large company in Iceland and it soon becomes clear that there are murky and fraudulent dealings going on with corruption in high places to which his death is linked.

Running alongside the police investigation, we are kept up to date with the goings on by a mysterious blogger who seems to have access to confidential information and is privy to the sexual antics of various ministers and influential businessmen and/or women, and part of the enjoyment of reading this book is to try and guess his/her identity.

Quentin Bates was born in England but ended up living in Iceland after initially going there for his gap year, which turned into a gap decade. He now lives in the UK but this book certainly utilises his knowledge of the country, along with a fascination with the recent upheaveals in Iceland's society and financial institutions of which we are all aware.

In Gunnhildur the author has created a likable, warm and sympathetic character who I took to straight away, the story is well plotted and amusing as well, particularly in the portrayal of an unspeakably awful CEO of one of the companies involved in the widespread corruption, a woman with a fearful temper and a penchant for making her Personal Assistants very personal indeed....

I found the denouement slightly vague with a few unsatisfactory matters left unresolved, including the identity of the blogger though a clue is given just before the final page is reached, but this is deliberate as the opening is now there for a further book. I do hope this is on the cards as I liked Frozen Out very much and delighted to discover another author to add to my increasing list of crime writers to Watch Out For.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Nordic Thriller, 4 Feb. 2011
By 
Lincs Reader (Lincolnshire, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
Frozen Out' is the first in a new police procedure thriller series. Set in Iceland in 2008, just as the financial meltdown begins, it features Sergeant Gunnhildur (or Gunna for short).
Gunna is not young, slight and beautiful - she's a 'big girl', gruff, down-to-earth and with the habit of calling her colleagues 'lad'. However, she is a really realistic and likeable character, with a past and baggage. The author has given us snippets of her past, but not everything. She's a young widow - her husband died in an accident - but we don't know the details. She has two children and there is a mysterious love interest floating around in the background too.
The story starts when a body is washed up on Gunna's patch, at first it seems as though this was an accidental death, after all the guy's blood was almost 100% alcohol, but it soon becomes clear that there are links to the Government, to insider wheeling and dealing and corruption on all levels.
The story is also interspersed with articles written by someone known as 'Skandalblogger' - revealing dark secrets about the rich and famous, and upsetting people at the highest levels with every article.
Although the author is British, he spent a lot of time living in Iceland and this is clear from the descriptions, not just of the countryside but also the quirks of the Icelandic people are perfectly portrayed. I did have some difficulty with the very long and very strange character and place names, but they soon became familiar and this spoilt nothing of what is a fast-paced and exciting thriller.
With lots of insight into the corruption within the Government and the financial sector - yet in a very understandable and accessible way, a great plot, a fabulous new heroine - this is the first instalment in what I hope will continue to be a great police detective series.
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding without being standard Scandinavian noir, 30 Sept. 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Frozen Out (Gunnhildur Mystery Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
We've all become used to, and probably tired of, Scandinavian noir crime novels with detectives who carry massive personality disorders as part of their daily baggage, or who are addicted to one thing or another, or who fight depression as well as crime. The really refreshing thing about Frozen Out is that Bates does not give us yet another set of world-weary Scandos. Instead, here is a crime novel suffused with real-life, crime-weary, politician-weary humour.

Gunna, the main police character is wonderfully drawn, and, although she is described as fat, "with a face to scare the horses," she is, in actual fact, well-drawn, and not without a degree of less than maternalistic sensuality. For me, her moral and mental strength, lift her head and shoulders above the rest of the book's cast, although that cast, too is very well-drawn.

I enjoyed the simplicity of the language (which I think could well be the result of a decade spent in Iceland by Bates), because very often it is simplicity of language which makes novels great, where purple prose is nothing more than an author showing off after swalling a dictionary and a thesaurus.

To be able to read a crime novel that is so up to date, and which does give a glimmer of hope in dark times, is something that's always a great experience, and I was totally and utterly absorbed in this. High-quality writing at a bargain price. Go and get 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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Start, 7 Oct. 2013
By 
GelS (Worstead, Norfolk) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Frozen Out (Gunnhildur Mystery Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Oddly, I read 'Cold Comfort,' the second of the Gunnhildur novels about a large, somewhat irascible village police sergeant in Iceland, first. I loved it so much I went straight to 'Frozen Out' on the Kindle.

This story, set against a backdrop of the Icelandic economy's boom and bust, covers a series of deaths that Gunna, as the large female protagonist is known by friends and colleagues, determines are not accidental but linked to dirty political dealing and greed in high places. The story becomes a manhunt to track down the 'fixer' responsible for the deaths - though it's hampered, even in small Iceland, by bureaucratic politics.

I'm very impressed by what Quentin Bates has created on the basis of his experience of living and working in Iceland, a place unknown to many of us. The fact the author is English means, unusually for a Scandinavian novel, there's no odd translation issues - furthermore, I love the blunt humour employed (not that Scandinavians lack humour; I worked for a Norwegian company for some years and love Jo Nesbo's books). For me, the complex Icelandic names add to the depth of the reading experience rather than distracting.

Highly recommended reading, and a terrific price on Kindle.
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 First rate thriller, 11 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Frozen Out (Gunnhildur Mystery Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Once you get your head around the virtually unpronounceable Icelandic names, which are a bit of a mouthful to say the least. This is a really great read. The story was captivating as were the descriptions of the seemingly inhospitable country and people who live there. I found myself immediating liking Gunnhilder, unlikely hero, single mum of two and sergeant of a rural police station who doggedly investigates the crime the plot centres around while others do their best to derail her progress. The author gives you an authentic taste of Icelandic life, you get a sense of the decline of the country's shipping and fishing industries and the financial crash which made life extremely tough for its locals while it's police force sounds eerily like most you read about. If you enjoy good British crimewriting then you will enjoy Gunnhilder's crime solving with a Nordic twist! I immediately read the next two in Quentin Bates series and they don't disappoint either.
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed the book - need a lesson on Icelandic pronunciation thought!, 1 Sept. 2013
By 
Beverly (West Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Frozen Out (Gunnhildur Mystery Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Seriously - the pronunciation isn't an issue, I just pronounced the names in my head as I thought they sounded.
This is one of those books that slowly creeps up on you. A third of the way through the book I suddenly realised that I really, really liked Gunhildur the main character. By the end of the book I wanted to read more and have purchased the second in this series.

The story is a well woven crime / police procedural set in Iceland. All of the characters are well rounded. The goodies are nice people and there aren't many redeeming features in the baddies.

In summary, a well written (translated?) book with an interesting plot and characters.
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 First trip to Iceland, 6 Sept. 2013
By 
S. Light (West Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Frozen Out (Gunnhildur Mystery Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I don't read much fiction set outside the UK and this was my first step into Iceland. I thought that I might have trouble with the Icelandic names, but somehow they're so unusual and complicated (not to the Icelanders, I'm sure) that I managed to keep track of the characters fairly well. I thought there some parts in the middle which were rather too wordy and unnecessary, and perhaps the book could have been a bit shorter without losing anything of the plot. Some people might find it a bit slow and plodding, with not enough action, but it's a type I enjoy and look forward to the next book which I have all ready to start.
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

Frozen Out (Gunnhildur Mystery Book 1)
£4.99
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews