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on 28 May 2011
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.
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on 7 December 2016
Isn't is great when you discover a new author and find there is a series of books to look forward to! I have read a lot of these Icelandic/Scandinavian police procedure books over the years and find this one well up to the mark. Particularly, I like the setting sense of a small community, with real drawn characters and normal day-to-day dialogue. It reminds me a bit of the Fortitude and Trapped TV series with the day to day life of a small time police officer in a rural area. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series. For me, I think one or two of the petty criticisms in other reviews e.g. Would an Icelandic speak in such idiomatic English and the slow pace and so forth is just pedantic waffle. A good, homely and atmospheric read for me. Very good. Just hope the others in the series are as good and includes the blogger.
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on 26 April 2016
I began reading the series with vol two as we were holidaying in Reykjavik at the time. You will find the Icelandic names bothersome when you begin reading the books and perhaps consider giving it up but stick with it.. I was curious about the pronunciation of some names so for the first novel in the (my last one!) I bought the professional narration, which I found hilarious with the fake north of England accents etc for Gunna read Guun nar, Hvalvik is Kvalvik , Laufey is Loyfey, Bara Bowra and Skulli is Schooly.
The story is engaging but I felt the end seemed to creep up on me very suddenly and within a few pages it was all over. You will cease to be bothered by the names and you will get carried along with the well woven tales which twist and turn more often than Gunnar has a coffee.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 February 2016
A great first story in the Gunnhildur series. It began quite sedately, then gathered momentum. Then three quarters through it was galloping along at a rate of knots, I couldn't put it down. A good mix of characters. Gunna (under her breath) with not a lot of deference to her immediate numpty of a boss, but a good guvnr to her team. And a good mix of humour and drama at the same time. Will definitely be reading more in this series.
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on 4 March 2017
I tried this having read Quentin Bates' translation of Ragnar Jonasson's books. I really liked Mr Bates approach which is slightly less dark than some other books of this genre. I am looking forward to reading more of this series which nicely mixes the criminal stuff with the personal stuff, making the characters come to life.
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on 7 October 2013
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.
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on 30 September 2013
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!
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on 22 June 2017
I found this a really good "quirky" read. Having visited Iceland, I could picture many of the places referred to and imagine most for the others. Quentin Bates knowledge of Iceland was obvious and helped create some fascinating characters.Looking forward to reading more about Gunna !!
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on 9 January 2013
The population of Iceland is about 319,000 - a useful fact to be aware of before you start to read this book. Not a lot of people to start with and a few less by the end of the story.

The action takes place in Iceland in the late 1990's just on the cusp of the collapse of Iceland's banking sector, so the context is that atmosphere of heady over-consumption and arrogance before the financial chickens came home to roost. The main character in the book is Gunnhildur Gisladottur, provincial police sergeant in the town of Hvalvik, a widow and a mother. Unsurprisingly almost all of the significant characters in the book are Icelanders. They have Icelandic names which I see from some reviews has been a bit off-putting. I did not find it so, Gunnhilder is shortened to 'Gunna' and we also have 'Haddi'; 'Matti'; 'Snorri'; 'Bjossi' and lots more helpfully shortened names - perhaps the Icelanders find the full names a bit of a mouthful too.

The story begins on 26 August when a young man dies in the Hvalvik harbour and it ends 6 weeks later on 7 October. A presumed accident is shown to be a murder and then we find it is not the first nor the last murder. Pressure from high places to sideline the investigation seems to have been resisted and instead Gunna gets her head. She get leadership of a team to uncover the link between the deaths; to trace the killer; and bring him and those behind him to justice. The title of the book is a clue to how it turns out.

The characters are well developed and interesting; the plot is credible; the book is well written and the climax is exciting. A great introduction to Gunna and her Iceland. It's amazing what goes on in little Iceland!
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on 3 March 2017
I enjoyed the read once I had got round the Icelandic names which can make following the story a little difficult. I warmed to the main character Gunna as the story progressed. The story itself revolves around an Icelandic Company, corruption in high places and a hit man and moves at a good pace.I will get the second story in the series and see how Gunna progresses.
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