Mystery People © 2012. Developed by D H H
‘Thin Ice’ by Quentin Bates
Published by Constable,
3 March 2016.
I am a great fan of Quentin Bates and his protagonist, Sergeant Gunnhildur "Gunna" Gísladóttir. Without wishing to sound as though I'm setting myself up as some kind of crime-fiction guru (there are many others far more fitted for this role than I am) I have followed his career up the crime-writing ladder with a great deal of interest.
In Thin Ice, he has produced a humorous and very well-plotted story. Two minor crooks rob drug-dealer Alli the Cornershop and then find that their get-away driver has failed to appear. What to do? Obviously to hijack a nearby car and take off for points north. It's unfortunate that along with the car come two women: the driver, Erna, and her wild-child daughter, Tinna Lund. The mismatched four end up in a closed and shuttered hotel, amid (as so often in a novel set in Iceland) freezing temperatures and falling snow.
Both crooks know that Alli the Cornershop will not rest until he gets his money back and will be trying to find them, just as Gunna and her team are trying to locate the whereabouts of Erna and Tinna Lund. Össur, the dim mastermind behind this doomed enterprise, spends his time smoking pot and trying to work out the best way to proceed from here, if necessary abandoning or even disposing of the women. His co-crook, Magni, on the other hand, is the king-pin that holds the situation all together. I don't know if this was Bates' intention, but Magni is a terrific character, and I hope we'll see more of him and his misadventures in future books
Gunna, meanwhile, is dealing with her complicated personal life at the same time as trying to handle the other cases piling up on her desk, including a fatal arson attack and the missing women.
I loved this knife-edgily terrifying yet sometimes poignantly humorous book.
Reviewer: Susan Moody.