Friday, 5 August 2016

QUENTIN BATES - THIN ICE (2016)


Synopsis/blurb….

Snowed in with a couple of psychopaths for the winter...

When two small-time crooks rob Reykjavik's premier drugs dealer, hoping for a quick escape to the sun, their plans start to unravel after their getaway driver fails to show. Tensions mount between the pair and the two women they have grabbed as hostages when they find themselves holed upcountry in an isolated hotel that has been mothballed for the season.

Back in the capital, Gunnhildur, EirĂ­kur and Helgi find themselves at a dead end investigating what appear to be the unrelated disappearance of a mother, her daughter and their car during a day's shopping, and the death of a thief in a house fire.

Gunna and her team are faced with a set of riddles but as more people are quizzed it begins to emerge that all these unrelated incidents are in fact linked. And at the same time, two increasingly desperate lowlifes have no choice but to make some big decisions on how to get rid of their accidental hostages...

A bit of Scandinavian crime from Quentin Bates. Thin Ice is the 5th full length novel featuring Officer Gunnhilder, but my first time reading this author and series character.

A couple of small-time lowlifes decide to rip-off the Icelandic capital’s biggest drug dealer. All goes to plan, until it doesn’t! The proverbial brown stuff hitting the fan about 2 minutes after stealing the cash! No getaway driver.   

Ossur and Magni, our two hapless crims hijack a car with a mother and her adult daughter and take off.  Fleeing the capital they take refuge at an isolated hotel out in the countryside.

Back in Reykjavik, Alli the Cornershop has quickly tracked down the errant driver and he’s been tortured and BBQ’d while our Sergeant Gunnhildur and her team start probing the disappearance of the two women and soon after the murder of the hapless crispy critter.

I really liked large portions of the book, especially the tensions and friction between the two crims and the two hostages, between one crim and another and between mother and daughter. Within a short period of time Tinna our younger hostage is getting down and dirty with Magni, the more gentlemanly and likeable of our crooks. Is it still Stockholm syndrome if it takes place in Iceland? Interesting to see how this affects the dynamics of the group and ultimately how the whole story pans out. Magni was open, decent, likeable but a bit out of his depth. Ossur was nasty, vicious and paranoid. Tinna was …hmm friendly and feckless and a lot more. Mum was just annoying!

I kind of felt the detective/policing element took a back seat to the hostage situation, but it wasn’t something that disappointed me. I’d rather be reading about the bad guys than the forces of light – they’re usually just a bit more interesting.

We spend a bit of time in the company of Gunnhildur and her family and have some inkling of their history and old strife and tensions, some unresolved. I was kind of confused at first, but I think it was the Icelandic names that were causing me difficulties.

Gunnhildur and her team persist in the investigation; catching a couple of breaks, another corpse and close in on our pair of bandits; in addition to building a case against Alli for the murder of the absent driver.

Interesting twist at the end which I kind of saw coming.

Great setting, great characters, great story – why haven’t I read this guy before?
   
4.5 from 5


Quentin Bates has his website here.

He's on Twitter - @graskeggur

Quentin was kind enough to appear on the blog a couple of months back when Thin Ice was fresh out and only just in my sweaty palms. 

The Thin Ice Blog Tour post is here.

Thanks to Linda MacFadyen for hooking us up with Quentin and his book.

Read in March, 2016

8 comments:

  1. Yeah, pretty much my take on it. The police procedural stuff is fine but the crooks and the kidnapping story is fantastic. I loved those characters - loved the ending too.

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    1. Nice to see we're in agreement on this one. I'm tempted to try another book by Quentin, - I reckon I have something, but kind of wonder if this one was a bit of a departure and the rest are standard "PP" fare. I wouldn't mind seeing a Manni and Tinna reunion!

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  2. Ok, I've heard of this author without reading him, or even being that bothered. A few more reviews like this and he might get on the list.

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    1. Fair enough Moira. There was a lot you might like here, I reckon.

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  3. It's certainly time for me to read a book or two by Quentin Bates. Like the storyline of THIN ICE.

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    1. I really enjoyed it Prashant, check him out.

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  4. I definitely plan to read more in this series. Have books 2 and 3 to read.

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    1. I have one more I think, but title and series number escapes me for now. I'll be interested to see if its a more traditional police procedural or a bit off-beat like this one, focusing a lot on the criminal elements.

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