Friday, March 4, 2016

A touch of Iceland in London

Spring has sprung and the crime writing calendar is starting to get busy here in London. Last night I was privileged to attend a book launch held at the Embassy of Iceland. Why was a Nordic embassy hosting a London book launch? Because British author Quentin Bates made his home there for many years - a Thatcher-era gap year that got rather extended when he married a local and started a family - and now writes an acclaimed crime series featuring Icelandic policewoman Gunnhildur Gísladóttir.

Last night we were celebrating the launch of Quentin's seventh 'Gunna the Cop' tale, THIN ICE. A good crowd gathered, including fellow authors Michael Ridpath (who also has a series set in Iceland), Anya Lipska, SJI Holliday, and soon-to-be-author Steph Broadribb. It was great to catch up with former Ngaio Marsh Award judge and doyen of British crime reviewing Mike Ripley, along with current Ngaio Marsh Award judge Ayo Onatade, Telegraph reviewer Jake Kerridge, and others.

As is often the case with these things, it was fantastic to be in a room packed with people who are passionate about books, who love stories. It's an energising, inspiring feeling. Great conversations. But it was one book in particular we were there to celebrate - so here's the official blurb for THIN ICE, I am very much looking forward to reading it myself (I read and enjoyed Quentin's first Gunna tale, FROZEN OUT, as the year turned from 2014 to 2015.):

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, Eiríkur 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...

Quentin is also one of the founders of Iceland Noir, a terrific crime festival in Reyjavik that makes a return later this year. You can read his 9mm interview we did following the 2014 festival here.

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