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on 4 May 2011
I have been a great fan of Arnaldur Indriðason, 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!
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on 21 August 2016
This was abysmal. I'm usually patient with books but I barely started it before losing the will to continue. It's a shame because the overall concept is intriguing.

I've not come across a more cynical paint-by-numbers thriller in a very long time. This books is a laundry list of cliché stacked upon cliché, with obvious over-the-top attempts to hook the reader's interest in the most blatant fashion. I'm wondering how many more he can get through without running out? I suppose the half-baked dive into Norse sagas and the superficial look at Viking culture, in reality seemingly little more than a banal hyping of warrior's codes of honour and so on, just gave Ridpath more places to draw yet more clichés from, with which to add to the substantial pile.

It's a book with the literary equivalent of a severe premature ejaculation problem. It doesn't make it into the apartment before blows its proverbial load everywhere. Random meaningless sex and violence, and oh God those damn hysterical females with their emotions. It charges from chapter to chapter with the barest of establishing arcs or attention to pacing. I say this a man who has always argued against books drawing things out for the sake of it. Worst of all, it's such a blatant attempt, on the author's part, at just cynically trying to grab the reader's attention by throwing in some arbitrary ham-fisted drama without purpose or context or weight.

There are better choices.
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 April 2011
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.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 31 January 2012
I know very little about Iceland and found the prospect of a crime thriller set in the country intriguing. More so as it was a dramatic change of locus for the author.

The book was a revelation. In addition to a gripping murder mystery, Ridpath has nailed the setting. The descriptive passages give a real feel for the country, both geographically and culturally. The contemporary setting (with reference to banking collapse and world financial crisis) was matched by fascinating detail about the real Icelandic psyche; one born from an all pervading and ongoing belief in little people and other myths. I was completely unaware of the folklore links with Tolkien and found the way in which these facts were woven into the story both credible and informative.

The characters and plot were carefully and well developed, with a number of twists and turns and plenty of room for further tales. It was a real page turner and I'll be a follower of this series. It's a belting read!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 1 October 2011
This is the first Michael Ridpath novel I have read, and it will certainly not be the last. The story had intriguing elements all brought together - Icelandic warriors and Sagas, Tolkien, and the mysterious murder of an expert on Old Icelandic literature. What could these things possibly have in common? Add to that a detective seconded to Iceland from Boston, and you have a mix of people, places and events in a story that races from beginning to end.

The writing was evocative - the descriptions of Iceland and the places where the characters visit or read about were fascinating; I would love to visit Iceland some day and see these places for myself. The storyline was great.

I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery and/or a good detective novel and/or Iceland and Icelandic sagas, or to anyone who just appreciates a well-written story with well-developed characters and a well-paced plot. I'm off to research some more in this series. Can't wait!
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on 1 June 2012
I came across this book whilst searching for more Scandinavian crime stories to read (as I had temporarily caught up with my favourite writers series). I was intrigued by the idea of an English man writing a crime novel set in another country. How authentic would it be? Well, I found Magnus's character totally believable, and I learned quite a bit about the Icelandic psyche, forged in ancient sagas, landscapes of rock and dark nights. This particular novel centres around a lost Icelandic saga which echoes the stories in the Lord of the Rings. If you are interested in mythology and so on, I think this will appeal. The novel did well in introducing key characters and setting the scene for the possibility of further stories with Magnus as a central character. It had a great sense of atmosphere and left me looking forward to the next book in the series.
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on 7 December 2011
Having never read anything remotely to do with Iceland so I didn't know what to expect. I am a fan of crime thrillers and that is why I downloaded it onto the Kindle.
What a treat it was, from beginning to end. It has left me wanting to visit Iceland and I have downloaded the Sagas mentioned in the book and will read them in the future.
The characters are well described and interesting. I am really looking forward to reading the next one in the series. It is rare that I get to read a book that I just can't put down and found myself reading it at any opportunity.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys crime fiction, Scandanavian crime fiction or even Lord of the Rings.
Well done, a great read.
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on 21 November 2011
I had this book on my kindle for quite a while before getting around to reading it and I wondered why I had left it so long. Other reviewers have given good synopsis of the story so my review is on my impression of the story. I thought that it was a very good thriller that introduces Detective Magnus who has returned to his homeland from America under protest, entwining past and present, fact and fiction, the Icelandic descriptions were very good I could almost see myself there. An excellent holiday read which draws you into the full story. I have already downloaded the next book in the series.
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on 16 August 2017
The plot sounded promising. But what a total waste of time. Boring twaddle about Lord of the Rings and a ancient manuscript. Pages and pages about Bilbo Baggins and middle Earth. I just gave up after reading about 30%. Don't waste your money.
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on 16 September 2017
Far from the blood and bones of so many crime novels, the first in the series leads the reader through a series of erudite and historic but also fun considerations about Iceland, Icelanders and their sagas. Carefully plotted. Recommended.
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