WWW Wednesdays – 22nd November ’17

WWWWednesdays

Hosted by Taking on a World of Words, this meme is all about the three Ws:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Why not join in too? Leave a comment with your link at Taking on a World of Words and then go blog hopping!


Currently reading

TheSummerofImpossibleThingsThe Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman (hardcover, giveaway prize)

If you could change the past, would you?

Thirty years ago, something terrible happened to Luna’s mother. Something she’s only prepared to reveal after her death. Now Luna and her sister have a chance to go back to their mother’s birthplace and settle her affairs. But in Brooklyn they find more questions than answers, until something impossible – magical – happens to Luna, and she meets her mother as a young woman back in the summer of 1977.  At first Luna’s thinks she’s going crazy, but if she can truly travel back in time, she can change things. But in doing anything – everything – to save her mother’s life, will she have to sacrifice her own?

TheIceThe Ice by Laline Paull (ebook, NetGalley)

It’s the day after tomorrow and the Arctic sea ice has melted. While global business carves up the new frontier, cruise ships race each other to ever-rarer wildlife sightings. The passengers of the Vanir have come seeking a polar bear. What they find is even more astonishing: a dead body.

It is Tom Harding, lost in an accident three years ago and now revealed by the melting ice of Midgard glacier. Tom had come to Midgard to help launch the new venture of his best friend of thirty years, Sean Cawson, a man whose business relies on discretion and powerful connections – and who was the last person to see him alive. Their friendship had been forged by a shared obsession with Arctic exploration. And although Tom’s need to save the world often clashed with Sean’s desire to conquer it, Sean has always believed that underneath it all, they shared the same goals. But as the inquest into Tom’s death begins, the choices made by both men – in love and in life – are put on the stand. And when cracks appear in the foundations of Sean’s glamorous world, he is forced to question what price he has really paid for a seat at the establishment’s table. Just how deep do the lies go?

TheExistenceofPityThe Existence of Pity by Jeannie Zokan (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

Growing up in a lush valley in the Andes mountains, sixteen-year-old Josie Wales is mostly isolated from the turbulence brewing in 1976 Colombia. As the daughter of missionaries, Josie feels torn between their beliefs and the need to choose for herself. She soon begins to hide things from her parents, like her new boyfriend, her trips into the city, and her explorations into different religions. Josie eventually discovers her parents’ secrets are far more insidious. When she attempts to unravel the web of lies surrounding her family, each thread stretches to its breaking point. Josie tries to save her family, but what happens if they don’t want to be saved?

Recently finished (click on title for review)

LettingGoLetting Go by Maria Thompson Corley (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

Even though she lives hundreds of miles away, when Langston, who dreams of being a chef, meets Cecile, a Juilliard-trained pianist, he is sure that his history of being a sidekick, instead of a love interest, is finally over. Their connection is real and full of potential for a deeper bond, but the obstacles between them turn out to be greater than distance. Can these busy, complicated people be ready for each other at the same time? Does it even matter? Before they can answer these questions, each must do battle with the ultimate demon – fear. (Review to follow)

Whiteout_New_CoverWhiteout (Dark Iceland #5) by Ragnar Jónasson (ebook, review copy courtesy of Orenda Books)

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place.

Murder on the Orient ExpressMurder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (hardcover, special edition)

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer. Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again. (Review to follow)

APearlForMyMistressA Pearl for My Mistress by Annabel Fielding (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady’s maid in a small aristocratic household. Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy. Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital… and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society’s most dangerous secrets…

What Cathy (will) Read Next

FortunesWheelFortune’s Wheel by Carolyn Hughes (paperback, giveaway prize)

June 1349. In a Hampshire village, the worst plague in England’s history has wiped out half its population, including Alice atte Wode’s husband and eldest son. The plague arrived only days after Alice’s daughter, Agnes, mysteriously disappeared, and it prevented the search for her. Now the plague is over, the village is trying to return to normal life, but it’s hard, with so much to do and so few left to do it. Conflict is growing between the manor and its tenants, as the workers realise their very scarceness means they’re more valuable than before: they can demand higher wages, take on spare land, and have a better life. This is the chance they’ve all been waiting for. Although she understands their demands, Alice is disheartened that the search for Agnes is once more put on hold. When one of the rebels is killed, and then the lord’s son is found murdered, it seems the two deaths may be connected, both to each other and to Agnes’s disappearance.

TheSixthManThe Sixth Man by Rupert Colley (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)

Sometimes we all make the wrong choice.

1943 Nazi-occupied France. Six Frenchmen are in a Nazi prison: a doctor, a postman, a policeman, a soldier, a teacher and a priest. After six months of prison, they are a desperate looking set of men. But, despite their circumstances, they are happy – for tonight is their last night of incarceration. Tomorrow, they will be free men. But then – there’s a change of plan. The French resistance have blown up a German train. Five German soldiers lie dead. Tomorrow, five of the six prisoners will be executed in reprisal. They have until dawn to decide which one of them should be allowed to live. Six happy men are now six desperate frightened souls, victims of the Nazi’s arbitrary justice. The doctor, the postman, the policeman, the soldier, the teacher and the priest. Only one of them will live to see another day. Who will be The Sixth Man?

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Book Review: Venetian Blood by Christine Evelyn Volker

Venetian BloodAbout the Book

Struggling to forget a crumbling marriage, forty-year-old Anna Lucia Lottol comes to Venice to visit an old friend- but instead of finding solace, she is dragged into the police station and accused of murdering a money-laundering count with whom she had a brief affair. A US Treasury officer with brains and athleticism, Anna fights to clear her name in a seductive city full of watery illusions. As she works to pry information from a cast of recalcitrant characters sometimes denying what she sees and hears, she succeeds in unleashing a powerful foe bent on destroying her. Will she save herself and vanquish her enemies, including her darkest fears? A captivating tapestry of murder, betrayal, and family, Venetian Blood is a story of one woman’s brave quest for the truth – before it’s too late.

Format: eBook (345 pp.)           Publisher: She Writes Press
Published: 8th August 2017      Genre: Crime, Mystery

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk ǀ Amazon.com
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City on Goodreads


My Review

A few months ago I spent two wonderful days in Venice so when I saw this book I was immediately attracted by its setting. Having wandered along some of its streets and beside its canals (staying off the main tourist drag and much quieter once all the cruise ships have departed for the evening), I can certainly understand why the author hit upon Venice as a suitable location for murder!

The atmosphere of this wonderful city is convincingly evoked in Venetian Blood. From its network of narrow streets, punctuated every now and again by small bridges over quiet canals with the occasional gondola passing by, to the hustle and bustle of the main piazzas, to the Grand Canal with its constant stream of vaporettos and ferries, to the faded grandeur of its palazzos and the very different atmosphere of the outlying islands.

In Venetian Blood, the author creates a picture of an insular, closely connected community where just about everyone seems to know everyone else’s goings on, including relationships of a financial and (often illicit) romantic nature – the book’s subtitle Murder in a Sensuous City is well-earned. However this does mean there is only a small cast of characters for the reader to get to know – and suspect!

Initially suspected of the murder of the Count, Anna sets out to clear her name but, as she gets closer to the truth, she finds herself in danger. Furthermore, traumatic memories from her past start to surface, threatening her hold on reality. Soon Anna finds herself in the centre of a complex web of intrigue, wondering who she can really trust.  Everyone from the receptionist of her pensione to her best friend seems a possible threat.

As the book progresses, it becomes clear that the murder of the Count may be rooted in past secrets, family tragedies and a desire for revenge as well as more modern day concerns.  Like the doges of old, Venetians such as Alessandro, descended from the noble families of earlier times, seek to exert power and influence just as eagerly as they seek to restore and preserve ancient Venice. This provides an interesting contrast of past and present, sacred and profane.

The plot of Venetian Blood is as labyrinthine as the back streets of Venice and at points I found myself wishing for a whiteboard like the one used by our heroine, Anna, to map out the financial connections that form part of the story. I will admit to getting slightly lost with the latter – unlike the author, I don’t have a background in international banking! I suspected just about everyone at some point and willingly admit I did not unravel the solution before it was revealed.  The perfect murder mystery then!

If you know Venice and enjoy a deliciously intricate murder mystery, then this is the book for you. I loved spotting places I’d visited and I was thrilled when at one point something happened very near the hotel where I stayed. If you’ve never visited Venice, Venetian Blood would be the perfect introduction to the city – or, even better, the perfect excuse to plan a visit.

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In three words: Atmospheric, suspenseful, mystery

Try something similar…City of Masks by S D Sykes (same location, different century, similar body count – click here to read my review)


ChristineEvelynVolkerAbout the Author

Christine Evelyn Volker became intrigued by foreign cultures at an early age, which motivated her to study Spanish, German, and Italian. After earning an MLS and an MBA, she was drawn to international banking and worked as a senior vice president at a global financial institution. Her career brought her to Italy, where she immersed herself in the language and made frequent visits to Venice. Venetian Blood marks a return to her roots in the humanities. A native New Yorker, she resides with her husband in Northern California. Exploring both tame and wild places around the world, she is currently at work on her second international mystery, this one set in the rainforest of Peru.

Connect with Christine

Website ǀ Facebook ǀ Goodreads

 

Book Review: A Pearl for my Mistress by Annabel Fielding

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for A Pearl for my Mistress by Annabel Fielding and to share my review of this compelling historical novel set in the turbulent years of the 1930s.

APearlForMyMistressAbout the Book

England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady’s maid in a small aristocratic household. Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy. Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital… and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society’s most dangerous secrets…

Format: eBook (384 pp.)                 Publisher: HQ Digital
Published: 9th August 2017            Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk ǀ Amazon.com
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find A Pearl for my Mistress on Goodreads

 


My Review

A Pearl for my Mistress is the story of the intense relationship between two women from very different social backgrounds – Lady Lucy Fitzmartin and Hester Blake, her lady’s maid. However, the book also immerses the reader in the turbulent political situation of the 1930s, with the rise of pro-Fascist organisations like that led by Sir Oswald Mosley and other pro-German movements.

Lady Lucy’s life is one of relative privilege but constrained by the social norms of the day and the limitations on her freedom imposed by her parents. She desperately wants to break free of these confines, exert her independence and make a name for herself. Misguided sympathy for the aims of Mosley’s movement and her talent for writing, provide her with the possibility of achieving her ambitions. Lucy has also become adept at listening from the shadows, picking up nuggets of conversation and information. As the story unfolds, the reader sees that her desperation for freedom makes her ripe for manipulation by others who have few qualms about how to achieve their aims. Having started down a path, Lucy finds herself having to face hard and unwelcome moral choices. Indeed, one of the many interesting themes the book explores is what people will do and who and what they will betray in order to protect themselves.

Although Hester does not share her mistress’s political views, her loyalty and love for Lady Lucy find her conflicted, especially when events threaten to come close to home. Having been central to the book initially as her relationship with Lady Lucy develops, Hester does recede into the background in the latter part of the book.

A theme of the book I found really interesting was its exploration of the power of words to inspire, persuade and, yes, even manipulate.

Words had colours, even textures, and she could faintly sense it, rolling them around in her thoughts. Some words were soft and languid, like silk. Some clinked, like iron. Some were fresh and crisp, like green apples. It was a trick of which words to use to invoke, for example, elegance and dream, or fire and iron.’

In fact, stories and writing play an important part in the development of the relationship between Lucy and Hester. Having had to keep her writing secret, Lucy finally has someone she can share it with. Lucy’s stories are her gift to Hester and Hester’s appreciation of them is her gift to Lucy.

‘The tale caught her in its grip, like a pot of honey could catch a careless fly. The longer she read, the more she was beguiled by the sweetness of the passages, the lushness of the sentences, the tribulations of the plot. It was as if the mere lines in front of her eyes, black ink on white paper, were transfiguring into something else.’

Later, Lucy’s writing ability becomes a possible route to independence for her but also a valuable asset for those seeking to advance the aims of the National Socialist government in Germany. So, she learns, is her position in society and her ear for gossip and information. The cold, hard truth of the art (science?) of manipulating people in positions of influence is revealed.

“‘What can we give him that he craves? A sense of belonging? A sense of rebellion? A sense of doing justice? A dream of glory? A dream of peace? Protection of his commercial interests on the Continent? It’s important to unearth these needs, these reasons. Then you can do anything.”

The author creates a really believable picture of the period which is clearly based on considerable research. There are walk-on parts for many of the key personalities of the period: politicians, the nobility, society hostesses and diplomats. I found the political machinations behind the scenes and some of the views expressed by those in the pro-Fascist movements positively chilling and, at times, worryingly reminiscent of contemporary debates around discrimination, migration and ‘fake news’.

I really enjoyed A Pearl for my Mistress and thought it a compelling and accomplished debut by a clearly talented author.  I received a review copy courtesy of the author and publishers, HQ Digital, in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Compelling, intimate, well-researched

Try something similar…Fingersmith by Sarah Waters


AnnabelFieldingAbout the Author

Annabel Fielding describes herself as ‘a novelist, a history geek and an international woman of mystery’. She has long since pledged her allegiance to travel, tea and books. A Pearl for my Mistress is her debut novel.

Connect with Annabel

Website ǀ Facebook ǀ Twitter ǀ Goodreads

 

My Week in Books – 19th November 2017

MyWeekinBooks

New arrivals

Sweet Hollow WomenSweet Hollow Women by Holly Tierney-Bedord (ebook, free)

As part of a family where life happens to you, fifteen-year-old Carasine Busey is devastated but not surprised when her family drops everything in Sweet Hollow, Louisiana to follow her dad’s shaky career as a welder. It’s not especially shocking, either, when he abandons them all shortly after they settle into their new home in the city. Carasine, her mom Rhonda, and the rest of the Busey clan have adapted to roll with the punches. From Rhonda’s secret broken heart to Great-Great-Grandpa Jimbo’s eccentric failed dreams, Carasine and her family are used to disappointment. It’s not until Carasine gets a second chance with an unlikely pair of long-lost relatives that she realizes her path in life might be up to her to navigate. Being their flesh and blood convinces her that there may be some hope for her after all.

All the Beautiful GirlsAll the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J Church (eARC, NetGalley)

It was unimaginable. When she was eight years old, Lily Decker somehow survived the auto accident that killed her parents and sister, but neither her emotionally distant aunt nor her all-too-attentive uncle could ease her grief. Dancing proves to be Lily’s only solace, and eventually she receives a “scholarship” to a local dance academy—courtesy of a mysterious benefactor.

Grown and ready to leave home for good, Lily changes her name to Ruby Wilde and heads to Las Vegas to be a troupe dancer, but her sensual beauty and voluptuous figure land her work instead as a showgirl performing everywhere from Les Folies Bergere at the Tropicana to the Stardust’s Lido de Paris. Wearing costumes dripping with feathers and rhinestones, five-inch heels, and sky-high headdresses, Ruby may have all the looks of a Sin City success story, but she still must learn to navigate the world of men – and figure out what real love looks like.

CaligulaCaligula by Simon Turney (eARC, NetGalley)

Caligula: loving brother, reluctant Emperor and tortured soul.

The six children of Germanicus are cursed from birth. Father: believed poisoned by the Emperor Tiberius over the imperial succession. Mother and two brothers arrested and starved to death by Tiberius. One sister married off to an abusive husband. Only three are left: Caligula, in line for the imperial throne, and his two sisters, Drusilla and Livilla, who tells us this story.

The ascent of their family into the imperial dynasty forces Caligula to change from the fun-loving boy Livilla knew into a shrewd, wary and calculating young man. Tiberius’s sudden death allows Caligula to manhandle his way to power. With the bloodthirsty tyrant dead, it should be a golden age in Rome and, for a while, it is. But Caligula suffers emotional blow after emotional blow as political allies, friends, and finally family betray him and attempt to overthrow him, by poison, by the knife, by any means possible.  Little by little, Caligula becomes a bitter, resentful and vengeful Emperor, every shred of the boy he used to be eroded. As Caligula loses touch with reality, there is only one thing to be done before Rome is changed irrevocably. . .

The Moral CompassThe Moral Compass (Shaking the Tree #1) by K A Servian (ebook, review copy courtesy of HF Virtual Book Tours)

Florence has a charmed life. The filth and poverty of Victorian London are beyond her notice as she attends dinners, balls and parties. But when her father suffers a spectacular fall from grace, Florence’s world comes crashing down around her. She must abandon her life of luxury and sail to the far side of the world where compromise and suffering beyond anything she can imagine await her. When she is offered the opportunity to regain some of what she has lost, she takes it, but soon discovers that the offer is not all it seems. The choice she made has a high price attached and she must live with the heart-breaking consequences of her decision.

LionLion by Saroo Brierley (ebook, Kindle deal)

At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia. Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home, and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family.

The Snow ChildThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (ebook, Kindle deal)

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart – he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone – but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

History of WovesHistory of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (ebook, Kindle deal)

How far would you go to belong? Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in an ex-commune beside a lake in the beautiful, austere backwoods of northern Minnesota. The other girls at school call Linda ‘Freak’, or ‘Commie’. Her parents mostly leave her to her own devices, whilst the other inhabitants have grown up and moved on. So when the perfect family – mother, father and their little boy, Paul – move into the cabin across the lake, Linda insinuates her way into their orbit. She begins to babysit Paul and feels welcome, that she finally has a place to belong. Yet something isn’t right. Drawn into secrets she doesn’t understand, Linda must make a choice. But how can a girl with no real knowledge of the world understand what the consequences will be?

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I published an extract from Becoming Mrs. Smith by Tanya E Williams as part of the blog tour. I also shared my list for the latest Classics Club ‘Spin’.  For those not familiar with it, you pick 20 books still unread (plenty to choose from in my case) from your Classics Club list and arrange them in a numbered list. A number is picked at random and that’s the book you have to read by the end of December. (The result was announced on Friday – the number was 4 – so it’s The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck for me.)

Tuesday – I shared a guest post by Adam LeBor about the inspiration for his novel District VIII. I also published my review of a historical mystery set in turn-of-the-century Barcelona I really enjoyed, The Secret of Vesalius by Jordi Llobregat. The author was kind enough to share the review on Twitter and describe it as ‘marvellous’ (blush).

WWWWednesdaysWednesdayWWW Wednesday is the opportunity to share what I’ve just finished reading, what I’m reading now and what I’ll be reading next. I also published an extract from the debut novel by Pankaj Giri, The Fragile Thread of Hope.

TBR Challenge 2018Thursday – I can’t resist signing up for reading challenges, especially if they’re going to motivate me to reduce my groaning To-Be-Read pile. The wonderful blogger, RoofBeamReader (the brains behind The Classics Club) is hosting the 2018 TBR Pile Challenge. You list 12 books that have been in your TBR pile for over a year and commit to read them by the end of December 2018. There’s still time to participate – sign up here.

Friday – Talking of TBR piles, I made another assault on my To-Read shelf on Goodreads by going Down the TBR Hole, dumping seven out of ten books on this occasion. However, they were all part of a series so a slight cheat!

Saturday – As part of the blog tour, I shared my review of Illusion by Stephanie Elmas, an accomplished historical mystery set in Victorian London that has just a hint of magic.

Sunday – I took part in the blog tour for Whiteout by Ragnar Jónasson, the latest in his Dark Iceland crime mystery series.

Challenge updates

  • Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge – 142 out of 156 books read, 4 more than last week
  • Classics Club Challenge – 5 out of 50 books reviewed, same as last week
  • NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2017 (Gold) – 43 ARCs reviewed out of 50, 1 more than last week
  • From Page to Screen 2016/7– 7 book/film comparisons out of 12 completed, same as last week
  • From Page to Screen 2017/18 – 1 out of 3 completed, same as last week

On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Review: A Pearl for my Mistress by Annabel Fielding
  • Review: Letting Go by Maria Thompson Corley
  • Review: Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City by Christine Evelyn Volker
  • Review: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Next week, I shall also be celebrating the first blogiversary of What Cathy Read Next!  

Blog Tour/Review: Whiteout (Dark Iceland #5) by Ragnar Jónasson

I’m thrilled to be one of the hosts of today’s stop on the blog tour for Whiteout, the latest in Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series. Translated by Quentin Bates, Whiteout is another great crime mystery published by Orenda Books. You can read my review below.  (Be sure to check out the review by today’s co-host, Sharon at Shaz’s Book Blog.)

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Whiteout_New_CoverAbout the Book

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and the secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place.  Dark, chilling and complex, Whiteout is a haunting, atmospheric and stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.

Format: Paperback (276 pp.)         Publisher: Orenda Books
Published: 1st November 2017      Genre: Crime, Mystery

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk ǀ Amazon.com
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Whiteout (Dark Iceland #5) on Goodreads


My Review

I’ve not read any of the previous books in the Dark Iceland series and, although there are references to events in earlier books (and some suggestions of possible future storylines), I didn’t consider it affected my enjoyment of Whiteout at all.  I felt the translator, Quentin Bates, managed the difficult task of delivering the author’s intention of keeping the reader guessing at certain points: glances toward unidentified persons or possibly significant reactions to conversations. The downside of this, of course, is to remind us that we’re not an actual witness to the scene, only readers of a book with a deliberately obscured view of what is taking place.  However, these little ‘tricks’ certainly keep the reader guessing when it comes to working out what might be the solution to the mystery.

There’s nothing revolutionary about the plot of Whiteout or the motives of those involved when finally revealed but it’s certainly a very accomplished mystery with a limited number of suspects. Like this reader, you’ll probably suspect just about each of them at some point and, like detectives Ari Thór Arason and his boss, Tomas, also wonder if perhaps the death of the victim isn’t suicide rather than murder after all. I’m certainly not going to spoil it by telling you anything more…

The author has created an interesting character in Ari Thór Arason and I liked learning about his personal back story and the intriguing hints about events in previous books. Whiteout is set shortly before Christmas and I particularly enjoyed learning about Icelandic traditions and customs such as broadcasting seasonal messages of goodwill to friends and family on the radio and – proving they are indeed a most civilized nation – the exchanging of books on Christmas Eve which, for Icelanders, is the important day of the Christmas period.

Another element I really enjoyed was the authentic sense of place created by the author. The reader really gets a feeling of the cold, the harsh snow-covered landscape and the remoteness of a small community. The perfect location, in fact, for secrets and events from the past to come to light…with devastating consequences.

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers Orenda Books, in return for an honest and unbiased review.

In three words: Atmospheric, mystery, crime

Try something similar…Faithless by Kjell Ola Dahl (click here to read my review)


Ragnar JonassonAbout the Author

Ragnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 18 countries and for TV.

Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

Connect with Ragnar

Website ǀ Twitter ǀ Goodreads

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