Monday, September 19, 2011

Review of Frozen Out by Quentin Bates (Robinson, 2011)

The body of a young man is found in the harbour at the small village of Hvalvik, Iceland. Local police sergeant Gunnhildur Gisladottir suspects foul play and starts to investigate. She’s quickly put under pressure to wrap things up. With a young journalist in tow and her bosses thwarting her investigation, she initially makes slow progress. It soon becomes clear to her though that the young man is not the first victim and that there are larger forces at play centring round environmental politics, big business and political power. Gunnhildur is determined to catch the killer, but she’s going to have to do it hard way, at the same time putting herself in potential danger.

I struggled with Frozen Out. It had all the plot and character ingredients to be a very good read, but somehow it failed to fully deliver. The principle problem for me was the credibility of the plot. There were too many things about the procedural elements and office politics of the police investigation and the political corruption and murders that I did not believe. This was not helped by the writing being quite flat and lifeless, the dialogue stilted, and the narrative long winded. There’s nothing wrong with workmanlike prose, but this could have done with a good edit to make it livelier and punchier. Gunnhildur is the novel's saving grace. She was an interesting character and has much potential for heading a series. I’d like to be a lot more positive, and the book has received more upbeat reviews elsewhere (e.g., at Eurocrime), but the book just didn’t click for me.

3 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Rob - Thanks for your candid and thoughtful review. You highlight how very important credibility and writing style are to a novel. You also highlight how important a good characterisation can be. It sounds as though in this case, it's the one motivation you might have to read the next in this series.

pattinase (abbott) said...

These Scandinavian mysteries are starting to run together. Too many common elements. Angst, snow, Nazi-type people, village life, family secrets, drinking.

Dorte H said...

It will be interesting to see if I agree with you or other friend-feeders this time because I am definitely going to try this series. I met Quentin Bates at CrimeFest so I´ll give him a chance for being an interesting person to talk to ;)