Trapped: outstanding Icelandic noir

The first season of the outstanding Icelandic crime-drama TRAPPED used the hook that the cast were physically confined in a remote small town, cut off by roads blocked with huge snowdrifts; ferries frozen in the fjord. Typical Nordic noir territory. The second series goes a more philosophical route. We return to the same small-knit community…

The Island: isolation and intrigue

In a minor masterstroke, Icelandic author Ragnar Jónasson is telling his ‘Hidden Iceland’ series in reverse order. That’s not obvious when you read the first book to feature detective Hulda Hermannsdottir, The Darkness, which gets the ball rolling in the twilight of her career. But then all becomes obvious with The Island, set fifteen years…

The Darkness: deceptively simple

If Ragnar Jónasson was a painter, he’d be a meticulous minimalist, quietly capturing the essence of commonplace events in a low-key life – and then revealing a dazzling, broad canvas which weeps with compassion for the human condition. The Darkness, a standalone investigation set in Iceland, may easily be his best work yet translated into…

Witness Statement: author Quentin Bates

Quentin Bates pens a series of Icelandic murder mystery novels which feature the pleasingly pragmatic Officer Gunnhildur Gísladóttir. Firmly grounded in contemporary reality, Bates writes criminal investigations populated with contradictory characters who are neither clear-cut good-guys nor moustache-twirling villains. There’s an entertaining ambiguity to his three-dimensional creations and a well-honed wit to their dialogue –…

The Deep: into the depth of human endurance

Typically reserved and inward-looking, this intriguing Icelandic docu-drama treads much the same water (sorry) as Robert Redford’s All Is Lost romp. But while the latter is a ripping yarn of high-tension on the high seas, The Deep is far more remarkable because it’s a credible re-telling of actual events. The Deep explores the unlikely survival…

Chilled To The Bone: death in a cold country

An engaging blend of blackmail, sexual mischief, coldly calculated murder and a solid police procedural, this Icelandic investigation combines a well-woven plot with a cast of intriguing characters. Sergeant Gunnhildur, the resolutely down-to-earth pragmatist, is the anchor around whom the storyline revolves, and she’s currently one of the most interesting female investigators in crime fiction.…