This is a tricky book to love. On the surface, it has all the elements of a compelling Scandi crime thriller. We’re saturated in an unfamiliar culture, given revealing glimpses of the Greenlandic people and the harsh life they endure. Clinging to existence in small communities which hug the coastline, the Greenlanders apparently thrive in the natural environment in all its stark and occasionally bloody reality. The country itself is depicted with an intense, atmospheric sense of place, as an immense sprawling wilderness which can be oppressively claustrophobic.
Next up comes the historical conspiracy angle, of black ops experiments being run in secret on US air force bases three decades ago. The truth about this covert programme directly affects the private lives of the key characters.
Speaking of whom, Cold Fear hinges on a spiky, spunky female protagonist; an outsider who despises society and seeks revenge on the men who abused her. Even without the full-body tattoos it’s hard not to compare Tupaarnaq the Inuit to Lisbeth Salander and – even if she’s far from original – she could easily carry the story on her own. Sadly it all bogs down with her mainstream companion, Matthew, who is deeply uninspiring, a damp squib who makes Mikael Blomkvist look like a radical man of action.
The flashback sequences to that series of illicit drugs trials – experiments designed to help human survive in the bitter artic cold – hold a lot of promise. But the whole plot dithers and lumbers when it should slice and dice. It’s over-long, confused, and weighed down with way too much baggage from the first book in the series. We meet dozens of minor characters, all with weird names, who play no real part in this story and nor do they add any element of intrigue or atmosphere.
This book is touted as being a standalone but I suspect anyone who hasn’t read The Girl Without Skin would be baffled. Both episodes would have been better combined into one book – minus a lot of the pointless faffing.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Cold Fear by Mads Peter Nordbo is available at Amazon
Imagine what might happen if Jack Reacher met the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo…
Find out in THE CORRUPTION OF CHASTITY at Amazon