The Wanderer, by Michael Ridpath

This crime thriller set in Iceland and then Greenland is the 5th in Michael Ridpath’s ‘Fire and Ice’ series. Previously Magnus, the Icelandic born but American raised homicide detective seconded from Boston to Reykjavik has solved 4 murders, while at the same time over those 4 novels resolving the unsolved mystery of who murdered his father (the genre requires this kind of old family mystery).

Her we are a few years later. Magnus had gone back to Boston, but has now returned to Iceland.

A television crew is filmng a documentary series about Guðríðr Þorbjarnardóttir, who about 1000 years ago sailed from Iceland to Greenland and then somewhere in North America, and later visited Rome*. Of course there is a murder. As Magnus investigates, there is another, and then after the tv crew has moved on to Greenland, a third. There is also a (recent) historical element to the story, but this time not involving Magnus’ family.

The plot and the narrative develop well. This is certainly a page-turner, although I felt that it wasn’t quite as strong as the first four, set in Magnus’ first stint in Iceland. Thie difference is small, however: only 1 mark on my scale.

I’m giving this 8 out of 10.

*Read a little more about Guðríðr Þorbjarnardóttir here . I have also bought Valkyrie, Women of the Viking World by Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir so as to read more about Guðríðr and other viking women.

31. Cage, by Lilja Sigurdadóttir

This it the third in the author’s Reykjavik Noir trilogy. It is set a few years after Snare and Trap, with the result that I felt there was a lot missing from Sonja’s and Agla’s stories.

I found it very much harder to engage with the characters and with what was going on. The structure of short, punchy chapters did not work as well for me as it had done in the first two books. I am afraid that to me this book was rather more going through the motions, and I think I was going through the motions in reading it.

So to me, this was a disappointing end to the trilogy that had started so well.

5 out of 10 for the book, 7 out of 10 for the trilogy (the average of the 3 marks).

10 out of 10 for whoever designed the covers to the 3 books!

20. Trap, by Lilja Sigurdardottir.

Trap is part 2 in the trilogy which begins with Snare.  I think it is best read as the second act in a three act drama.

It continues the story of Sonja and Agla well, building up to the third part, Cage – due out in October 2019.  The blurb on Cage will no doubt describe it as the ‘explosive’ conclusion, they always do, and I hope it will live up to that billing.

I am not sure how well this book works as a stand-alone work, and not as part 2 of 3.

I gave Snare 8/10, so Trap gets the same.  When I read Cage, I will give the series an overall rating.

16. Snare, by Lilja Sigurdardottir

Another Icelandic crime story, set in the aftermath of the banking crash and the Eyjafallajokull volcano that closed down air traffic in (I think) 2010.

Sonja is divorced. She has no money. She becomes a drugs courier, bringing cocaine into Iceland. She is in an on-off relationship with Agla, who is facing criminal investigation for her role in financial scandals. For a large part of the book, the story is about Sonja and Customs officer Bragi, who is sure she is up to no good.  But then the twists and turns happen…

This is the promising first in a trilogy.  More soon. 8 out of 10.

8. Snowblind, by Ragnar Jonásson

This crime novel fits perfectly into the ‘Trapped’ style of Icelandic noir. Take a remote community, that is cut off in winter, and that is where the murder is committed (in fact Snowblind is set in the northern Icelandic fjord town of Siglúfjordur, as was the second series of Trapped). Take a rookie cop, on his first posting after Police College In Reykjavik. Find a couple of generations-old mysteries. Throw in herrings, some salted, some red.

That is this book.

7 out of 10.