Wednesday 30 August 2023



It’s New Year and Iceland is still reeling from the effects of the financial crash when a notorious financier is found beaten to death after a high-profile reception at the President’s residence.

The police are certain they have the killer – or do they? Determined to get to the truth, maverick lawyer Stella Blómkvist isn’t so sure.

A stripper disappears from one of city's seediest nightspots, and nobody but Stella seems interested in finding her. A drug mule cooling his heels in a prison cell refuses to speak to anyone but Stella – although she’s never heard of him. An old man makes a deathbed confession and request for Stella to find the family he lost long ago.

With a sharp tongue and a moral compass all of her own, Stella Blómkvist has a talent for attracting trouble and she’s as at home in the corridors of power as in the dark corners of Reykjavík’s underworld.

Stella Blómkvist delivers an explosive mix of murder, intrigue and surprise, and is one of Iceland's best-loved crime series.

Murder at the Residence was a really enjoyable murder mystery, set in Iceland at the time of their financial crisis. There's an intriguing blend of cases for maverick lawyer Stella Blómkvist (our protagonist shares the same name as the author, though our author's true identity is a literary secret).

A missing woman; a murder of a high profile banker with a convenient patsy for the police; an incarcerated drug smuggler; a teenage rebel with authority issues and a decades old family secret which has been buried. Stella has her hands full picking through this little lot.   

Murder, drugs, pimps, politics, social unrest, police corruption, bankers, politicians, a priest, violence on the streets, the Reykjavik criminal underworld, friendships, alliances, secrets, media pressure, and amongst the busy case load a bit of time for some sex and possibly something more.

Great setting, an intriguing main character who I would like to read more about. She's gutsy, determined and capable, I like how she isn't intimidated by powerful forces. 

The writing was smooth and an easy read, which is testament to the translator's skill (hats off to Quentin Bates). The different strands of the plot were easy to follow and I enjoyed how they all came together, with only a smidgeon of coincidence to bind a couple of the elements. It's a busy book for 270-odd pages and there's a decent pace to the story without anything ever seeming rushed.

Overall - very satisfying and one I'd recommend to fans of Icelandic crime fiction.

One minor gripe, Stella's car - a Merc - is constantly referred to as a silver steed. I was irritated by the repetition of the phrase by the third occurrence. Another ten or so occasions just managed to properly annoy me. Why not call a car a car sometimes?

4 stars from 5

Read - August, 2023

Published - 2023

Source - review ARC from publisher Corylus Books

Page count - 270

Format - paperback

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