I recently read Snowblind by the Icelandic author Ragnar Jónasson and discovered the translator was Quentin Bates who has also written a series of Icelandic mysteries. So I thought I’d give Bates’ book a try.
Frozen Assets is the first in the series introducing Sgt. Gunnhildur Gísladóttir, known by everybody as Gunna the Cop. A body is found in the water near Hvalvík where Gunna is the police officer in charge. It might seem like an accidental drowning but then Gunna discovers that the victim had been seen in Reykjavik severely inebriated so the big question is how he got 100 kms away from the city. Gunna’s investigations uncover corruption involving the victim’s boss, Signurjóna Huldudóttir, who is married to the country’s Environment Minister.
It is Gunna the Cop that interests me enough to get me to read more of the books in the series. She is described as “a big fat lass with a face that frightens the horses” though that is an obvious exaggeration. She is astute and intelligent and straightforward. She doesn’t suffer fools easily. Colleagues respect her. For me, she is just a character I could not help but like.
Minor characters, unfortunately, tend to be a blur. I had difficulty differentiating the other police officers. Only the journalist shadowing Gunna and the villain emerge as fully developed characters.
I enjoyed learning more about the political and economic turmoil that Iceland experienced in 2008. I had never clearly understood what had happened, but Bates manages to explain in a way that makes sense.
The story is told from multiple perspectives; being given the viewpoint of the villain certainly increases suspense as a cat-and-mouse game develops.
I also appreciated the touches of humour. Throughout the book, blog entries by an anonymous blogger are inserted. This blogger provides “completely reliable, totally unsubstantiated and extremely libellous gossip about the great and the good of Icelandic entertainment, business and politics.” Some of his comments are hilarious, though of course his victims are less than pleased.
I will definitely return to this series because of the protagonist who is anything but a stereotypical police detective.