A Gunnhildur Gísladóttir Mystery by Quentin Bates
Review: Quentin Bates introduces village police sergeant Gunnhildur Gísladóttir — "known to every man and his dog as Gunna the Cop" — investigating a suspicious drowning in Frozen Assets, a mystery set in Iceland.
When the body of a marketing executive is found in the harbor outside rural Hvalvík, the initial cause of death is determined to be accidental drowing or maybe hypothermia; the man was drunk and no doubt simply tripped on the pier and fell in. But Gunna isn't convinced. She quickly learns that the man was supposed to be in Denmark courting a new client. How did he end up in her small town? Or maybe more importantly, why was he in Hvalvík? The only connection seems to be the local smelting plant, the bane to Gunna's limited and already stretched resources, which was also a client of the company the dead man worked for.
It's easy to like Gunna, a police officer who, when she notices that the suspect she's interviewing is rattled by all she's writing down, extends the process by making out her grocery list in the margins of her notebook. She also drives around in the police station's ancient second best Volvo, leaving the first best for her sole junior partner to use. The rural atmosphere is well created, and reflected to some degree in the pacing of the story; it moves along just a bit slower than it might had it been set in Reykjavik. But the plot, set in 2008, is both misfocused and needlessly over-complicated; the political and economic plot threads involving conspiracies in the halls of government and the boardrooms of companies are front and center, rather than the background issues they should have been, in some ways relegating the murder investigation — arguably, the primary purpose of the book — to be something of a side show. (The infrequent skandalblogger posts, though typically peripheral to Gunna's case, are quite entertaining nonetheless.) Gunna deserves to be the star of this series, and a sequel that is centered more on her talents as an investigating officer in a small village rather than on some macroeconomic reality would be most welcome.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided a copy of Frozen Assets for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Soho Crime (Hardcover), January 2012
ISBN-13: 9781616950545; ISBN-10: 1616950544
Location(s) referenced in Frozen Assets: Reykjavík, Iceland
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Frozen Assets by Quentin Bates — A Gunnhildur Gísladóttir Mystery
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: January 2011
List Price: $25.00
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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