Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review: SUMMERCHILL by Quentin Bates

SUMMERCHILL by Quentin Bates (Constable, May 2015)

Reviewed by Grant Nicol

When Logi finds a gun hidden on his work site in the countryside he immediately sees it as an opportunity to make some quick money. Unsure of exactly what to do with it though he hangs onto it until an opportunity to cash in on it presents itself. Danni, his former brother-in-law then asks him to do some under-the-table work for some particularly shady characters and he sees yet another opportunity to make some quick money that he won’t have to tell the taxman about. He makes use of his Polish workmates from his other job to get the job done as quickly as possible but after an unexpected visit from a disreputable and overly serious debt collector he suddenly needs their assistance on an entirely different matter altogether.

As the local Icelandic cops Gunna and Helgi struggle to make sense of the strange and alarming shenanigans that quickly ensue all over Reykjav√≠k they are led from one disaster to the next in pursuit of a motley band of criminally minded individuals. It is almost impossible for them to tell who’s hiding what. All they know is that nearly everyone they deal with has something to hide be it minor indiscretions or major crimes. Their job for the rest of the story is trying to tell the difference between the two.

The shortened length of the crime novella is not in my opinion a reason to avoid such works but rather one to embrace them. They have all the plot points and punch of the longer form but without the constraints of the procedural paradigm. This one in particular moves along with the grace that one would expect of an experienced novelist but contains a momentum that is unrelenting simply because it has to get where it’s going a little sooner than might usually be expected.

Quentin’s characters are fun and completely believable as his feel for Icelanders has been firmly honed by his many years spent living here. This is a great read and while it is technically just a stopgap in between novels I hope it’s not the last we’ve seen of the novella length works from him as this one is really entertaining and you will struggle to put it down once you’ve started it.


Grant Nicol is a New Zealand crime writer who lives in Reykjavik, Iceland. You can follow him on Twitter @GrantNicol1. 


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