I borrowed a copy of Arnaldur Indriðason‘s Arctic Chill from the Little Free Library. I was completely thrilled to see a book by an author whose name started with the letter I. I do an alphabet challenge every year and an ‘I’ author is one of the hardest to come up with.
Description from Goodreads:
The Reykjavik police are called on an icy January day to a garden where a body has been found: a young, dark-skinned boy is frozen to the ground in a pool of his own blood. Erlendur and his team embark on their investigation and soon unearth tensions simmering beneath the surface of Iceland’s outwardly liberal, multicultural society.
In this new extraordinary thriller from Gold Dagger Award winner Arnaldur Indridason, the Reykjavik police are called on an icy January day to a garden where a body has been found: a young, dark-skinned boy is frozen to the ground in a pool of his own blood. Erlendur and his team embark on their investigation and soon unearth tensions simmering beneath the surface of Iceland’s outwardly liberal, multicultural society. Meanwhile, the boy’s murder forces Erlendur to confront the tragedy in his own past. Soon, facts are emerging from the snow-filled darkness that are more chilling even than the Arctic night.
I thought this was interesting in some respects and a little dull in others. Being a book translated from Icelandic, reading the culture from an insider perspective was a treat. So was the atmosphere of the book, all bleak and cold like the environment. Similarly, I felt like (as an American reading an Icelandic book) this isn’t a book an American could write. Certainly we, as a people, struggle with some of the same issues brought up in the book. The immigration arguments could have shown up on any right-wing media outlet here, for example. But the fact that the investigation so quickly and strongly focused on the child’s race would never have passed muster in American fiction, I think. It addresses racism too starkly. Again, interesting.
But at the same time, the vast majority of this book is the detectives going around and asking various people the same questions and getting largely the same answers. It was slow going until a sudden break led to solving the case at the end. All in all, I’d read another Inspector Erlendur book, but I’m not rushing out to do it.
I borrowed a copy of The Death of the Necromancer (by Martha Wells) from the library.
Description from Goodreads:
Nicholas Valiarde is a passionate, embittered nobleman with an enigmatic past. Consumed by thoughts of vengeance, he is consoled only by thoughts of the beautiful, dangerous Madeline. He is also the greatest thief in all of Ile-Rien. Under cover of darkness on the streets of the gaslit city, he assumes the guise of a master criminal, stealing jewels from wealthy nobles to finance his quest for vengeance: the murder of Count Montesq. Montesq orchestrated the wrongful execution of Nicholas’s beloved godfather Edouard on false charges of necromancy, the art of divination through communion with spirits of the dead, a practice long outlawed in the kingdom of Ile-Rien.
But now Nicholas’s murderous mission is being interrupted by a series of eerie, unexplainable, fatal events. Someone with tremendous magical powers is opposing him, and traces of a necromantic power that hasn’t been used for centuries appear. And when a spiritualist unwittingly leads Nicholas to a decrepit old house, the truly monstrous nature of his peril finally emerges.
What if The Count of Monte Cristo merged with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a magical pseudo-victorian city? It would be great, right? Right. It honestly was. I will admit that the was slow, being almost 550 pages long. But I so enjoyed the characters and the unhurried development of the mystery that I totally overlooked it in the reading.
I appreciated Wells’ willingness to allow side characters diversity and autonomy, even the female ones. (Though I have to admit Crack was my favorite. I always love the loyal, rough-hand, bodyguard types.) There was humor and both the characters and the reader had to accept that not everyone (even the good guys) always get what they want.
When I picked this book up from the library I didn’t realize that it is part of a series. But being set 100 years after the first book, I didn’t feel the lack of reading book one at all. But I’ll be happy to go hunt up book three. Wells is simply becoming one of my favorite go-to authors.
I won a copy of Murder on the Lake of Fire through a giveaway the author, Mikel Wilson, ran on Instagram.
Description from Goodreads:
At twenty-three and with a notorious case under his belt, Emory Rome has already garnered fame as a talented special agent for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. His career is leapfrogging over his colleagues, but the jumping stops when he’s assigned a case he fought to avoid – an eerie murder in the Smoky Mountain hometown he had abandoned. The mysterious death of a teen ice-skater once destined for the pros is soon followed by an apparent case of spontaneous human combustion. In a small town bursting with friends and foes, Rome’s own secrets lie just beneath the surface. The rush to find the murderer before he strikes again pits him against artful private investigator Jeff Woodard. The PI is handsome, smart and seductive, and he just might be the killer Rome is seeking.
I generally enjoyed this. I wasn’t surprised by the conclusion of the mystery in any sense, but I enjoyed the journey of seeing that I was right and I liked both the main characters. I thought very occasionally that names were tossed into dialogue too often and the similes weighed a little heavily at times. But for the most part, I’m glad to have read it and look forward to the next one.
Edit: June 10, 2021 — In totally unrelated news, as I hadn’t even started Sadie’s Spotlight yet when I reviewed this book, the series was later promoed on the site.