Frozen Out is the first in a series of crime novels featuring Sergeant Gunnhildur, who enjoys working in the mundane fictional small town of Hvalvik. Her relatively easy worklife is shattered with the discovery body, and it soon transpires that there could be several linked murders.
We follow Gunna back and forth to Reykjavík, meeting her colleagues, children and there’s even a potential romance. There are quite a lot of characters to follow, and it feels like they are well developed and fleshed out. I won’t go into too much detail about the plot so as not to give anything away, but things get quite suspenseful with fast page turning from me towards the end. You are really rooting for some of the unsavoury people to get what they deserve.
Quentin Bates is a British author who spent many years living in Iceland and clearly has an affinity for the people and places he knew there. His writing style is easy to follow and sometimes humorous. I got into this book very quickly and abandoned the second book I was reading at the same time until this one was finished. Perhaps because the lead character was a woman, I felt that this book was quite similar to Yrsa Sigurðardottír’s work, which isn’t a bad thing, and after all, there are only so many ways to write about Icelandic crime. As with her books, I found there were no truly dark or scary moments for me as a reader, so if you are looking for something in that vein this may not be the series for you.
My minor gripes are that some of the words and phrases used are very British and therefore seemed unauthentic and an awful lot of Icelandic place names and road names are used – not an issue for me but perhaps bewildering if you’ve just picked the book up and aren’t an Iceland fanatic.
Overall, this is an interesting book that makes Iceland and its people come alive and is well worth a read.