Thursday 17 March 2016


Quentin Bates is an author who I'm familiar with but haven't yet read, though I am currently correcting that oversight with his latest Thin Ice currently on the go.

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, Eirikur 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...

Thin Ice is the fifth book in the Gunnhildur Mystery series.

You can catch up with Quentin at his website here.
He's on Twitter here - @graskeggur

Quentin was kind enough to share some thoughts with me on his favourite music, books and films.....

Sailin’ Shoes, by Little Feat
I was 17, picked this album up in a second-hand record shop and asked the guy behind the counter to play a couple of tracks. Fell in love on the spot. One track on this album is dedicated to the ‘Late, great Chester Burnett.’

Smokestack Lightnin’, by Howlin’ Wolf
Of course, Chester Burnett was the magnificent Howlin’ Wolf.

Stones or Beatles? The answer is The Who. ‘Nuff said.

Ökuljóð, sung by Sigfús Pétursson frá Álftagerði.

Elli Ghir, by Lili Boniche
I came across a mention of Lili Boniche in one of Jean-Claude Izzo’s Marseilles crime novels. A quick trip to the internet, and there were Lili Boniche, Maurice el Medioni and so much more.

Sir Henry at Rawlinson End, by Vivian Stanshall
Wonderful, ragged, sprawling, magnificent, hilarious, packed full of fantastic wordplay. The only album I’ve owned on vinyl, cassette and CD, plus various bootlegs.

Wreckless Eric is just brilliant, in his own idiosyncratic way. His book, a Disfunctional Success: the Wreckless Eric Manual (written by the author) is pretty good as well.

Not too much I'm especially familiar with if I'm honest. I do like some Who tracks but wouldn't consider myself a fan. The rest.......hmmm, sorry Quentin but each to their own! (Hopefully the links have survived intact and work - if they don't apologies and blame me!)

Ashenden, by WS Maugham
Some of the Ashenden stories were allegedly destroyed on Churchill’s instructions as giving away a little more than was comfortable about the activities of British intelligence. The book also contains one of my all-time favourite fictional villains – the Hairless Mexican.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
It’s just wonderful escapism. Forget the rubbish movie, the book is a zillion times better. Originally a radio series, it has a spread of imagination that is just breathtaking. Anyone who knows where his towel is should have read this.

Lorraine Connection, Dead Horsemeat, Affairs of State, by Dominique Manotti
Dominique Manotti writes sharp, brutal, highly intelligent crime fiction. I may have to learn French if no more translations appear.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John Le Carré
There’s something about Le Carré’s voice that comes through in his prose that is arresting. There’s lots of drinking tea and talking, but it’s still unputdownable.

Earthly Powers, by Anthony Burgess
It’s huge, it spans decades. Has one of the finest opening sentences ever.

Parker, Richard Stark (Donald Westlake)
He’s ruthless, unscrupulous, driven by money and these books are as sharp as a razor.

Maigret, Georges Simenon
Pick any one you like. They’re all great.

Sjöwall & Wahlöö
Ten stories, all of them are excellent. The forerunners of Nordic Noir, and still haven’t been bettered.

Short stories, Saki
The Unrest Cure is probably the best short story ever; closely followed by Sredni Vashtar.

A bit more familiar ground here. I'm in agreement on the Parker books by Richard Stark. He's more hard-boiled than the cover I've selected, but it is a great one.

I have a few from Simenon on the stacks, probably more Roman Durs than Maigret and I've sampled Sjowall and Wahloo, though I'll need to read more to be totally convinced. 

I'm intending to read my way through Le Carre's Smiley books, but have stalled after the first. Dominique Manotti looks my cup of tea, but he's not someone I have yet tried.

Simply the finest motion picture ever made.

I was going to go for the The Lavender Hill Mob, but instead I’ll cast a vote for The Ladykillers, the 1955 version with Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom and Katie Johnson as the delightful Mrs Lopsided.

The film of Arnaldur Indriðason’s novel. Dark, moody and atmospheric. Some of the background music was recorded at the Ísafjörður swimming pool.

The Killing and the Bridge were brilliant, but for my money, Laure Berthaud has a slight edge over Sarah Lund and her Faroese sweater and and Saga Norén in her muddy green Porsche. And that Maître Karlsson can give me a grilling whenever she likes.

The film of Len Deighton’s first book, and I could as easily have put this in with the books. Harry Palmer (In the film  – the character doesn’t have a name in the books) was the working-class antidote to Bond. The book was written fifty years ago and it’s still as smart as a fresh coat of paint.

This was made almost a hundred years ago and it’s just glorious.

The conclusion of the Night Shift, Day Shift and Prison Shift series from Iceland. Hilarious, dark and tragic all at once.

I have laughed at Life of Brian though it's maybe 30-odd years since I saw it in full. Not rushing for a re-watch if I'm honest. I read Jar City a few years ago and I'm tempted to track down this film version. I ought to have seen The Ipcress File but can't remember to be truthful, only in recent years have I come to appreciate Michael Caine.

Quentin's blog tour continues tomorrow at Crimespree. Yesterday he was hosted by Mrs Peabody.

Many thanks to Quentin for his time, even if he has added to my TBR pile. Thanks to Linda MacFayden for hooking us up. 


  1. Nice to learn a little more about authors. And I do agree about some of those top books and so on (Jar City, for instance). Oh, and I really do like Spiral. If you get a chance to see it, Col, I recommend it.

    1. Margot. I'm always interested in finding out what others are reading and viewing. I'll have to give SPIRAL more than a cursory glance!

  2. Nice piece. I've heard good things about this author and should try him. And anyone who like Little Feat must be good...

    1. I'll be honest I've never heard of Little Feat - they must be before my time!

  3. Mr. Bates has some great book and movie picks there. I have no knowledge of music, so I will leave that alone.

    I have the first in the Gunnhildur series, title is Frozen Assets in the US. I do hope to read that one this year and then read more of them.

    You should move past the first George Smiley book. Each is different. The 2nd one is more like the first, it isn't until The Spy who Came in from the Cold that it really reads like spy fiction... I am up to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and I may read that next....

    1. I do have one of the earlier books in the series, though I can't recall off-hand which one. It seems that a few Scandi series pitch-up with different titles for the same book, between the UK and the US.

      You are right about the Smiley books, but there's never enough time!

  4. Col, it was nice to get to know Quentin Bates "better." I have been reading about him and his book on Twitter. I liked his choice of books, especially "Earthly Powers" by Anthony Burgess. I have got to read that one.

    1. Prashant thanks. I've only read A CLOCKWORK ORANGE from Burgess and that will probably do for me.

  5. Never read him although I've heard of him as a translator and an author. Is this the start of a new feature of featuring blog tours or was this an author of interest? Just curious.

    1. Keishon, I think I have done one before and will do the occasional one again, but I'll only participate if I'm going to read the book that the tour kind of revolves around.

      Ideally I would do this post one day and have a few thoughts on the book the next, but I've have a rubbishy reading month so far. No reflection on the books I'm trying to read, just too much other stuff going on at the minute.

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