A Gunnhildur Gísladóttir Mystery by Quentin Bates
Review: Sergeant Gunnhildur "Gunna" Gísladóttir has been seconded from running her village police station to Reykjavík's Serious Crime Unit on a "permanent temporary basis", taking on the responsiblity but not pay grade of her superior, who is on extended leave. One of her first cases involves the murder of a once-popular media star, in Cold Comfort, the second mystery in this series by Quentin Bates.
Svana Geirs seemed to be living well beyond her means. Years ago hers was one of the most recognizable faces on television and in magazines and newspapers. But times and interests change. It was widely known she was trying to make a come-back, lending her image to a number of businesses, but none had really taken off. Still, her body was found in an upscale apartment suggesting she had another source of income. Gunna follows the money, leading her to a group of four men, who had an "arrangement" with Svana, one Gunna comes to think of as the "Svana Syndicate". Each of these men had a lot to lose if details of their relationships with Svana were made public, ideal suspects if only their alibis for the time of her death weren't so solid. And then there's Long Ommi, a convicted killer just a year away from being paroled, who escaped from prison around the same time Svana was killed … and who once worked for one of the members of the Svana Syndidate.
"It's convoluted, isn't it?" [Gunna's boss] Ívar Laxdal observed with a rare shadow of a smile.
"It's a step up from speeding tickets," Gunna admitted. "Everything is linked somehow. Wherever you look, someone else had an interest as well."
The plot thickens, as it were, and becomes even more convoluted as Gunna's investigation moves forward. The large number of characters and the interlocking interpersonal relationships between suspects and the victim almost require the reader take notes and who's doing what to whom. The whys don't come out until much later … and are nearly impossible to predict. From this perspective, Cold Comfort is a satisfyingly complex murder mystery.
Gunna is a delightful character, one who takes life's curves in stride, and is the real star of the show. She's not a city-person, however, and her assignment in the capital is one of the elements of the book that doesn't quite work. She's not intimidated in the least by her urban colleagues, yet the whole "square peg in a round hole" story construct seems a bit off-kilter.
The financial crisis in Iceland provides a backdrop to the proceedings as it did in the previous book of the series. It's somewhat less intrusive here; still, the author seems overly fixated on it, his frequently pointed comments on the subject tending to be more editorial than storytelling.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided an ARC of Cold Comfort for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Soho Crime (Hardcover), January 2011
ISBN-13: 9781569478677; ISBN-10: 1569478678
Chilled To the Bone
Soho Crime (Hardcover), December 2013
ISBN-13: 9781616953300; ISBN-10: 1616953306
Location(s) referenced in Cold Comfort: Reykjavík, Iceland
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Cold Comfort by Quentin Bates — A Gunnhildur Gísladóttir Mystery
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: January 2012
List Price: $25.00
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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