Today I’m delighted to join the blog tour for Harm, the latest Guðgeir Fransson thriller from Sólveig Pálsdóttir. I’ve really enjoyed this series so far and was delighted to be invited to join the tour by Ewa Sherman and publisher Corylus Books. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
When wealthy doctor Ríkarður Magnússon goes to sleep in his luxurious caravan and doesn’t wake up, detectives Guðgeir Fransson and Elsa Guðrún are called to the Westman Islands to investigate what looks like murder.
Suspicion immediately falls on Ríkharður’s young, beautiful and deeply troubled girlfriend – but there are no easy answers in this case as they are drawn into family feuds, disgruntled friends and colleagues, and the presence of a group of fitness-obsessed over-achievers with secrets of their own.
As their investigation makes progress, Guðgeir and Elsa Guðrún are forced to confront their own preconceptions and prejudices as they uncover the sinister side of Ríkharður’s past.
Harm is the third novel featuring the soft-spoken Reykjavík detective Guðgeir Fransson to appear in English. Sólveig Pálsdóttir again weaves a complex web of intrigue that plays out in the Westman Islands, remote southern Iceland and Reykjavík while asking some searching questions about things society accepts at face value – and others it is not prepared to tolerate.
Harm see us reunited with Detectives Guðgeir Fransson and Elsa Guðrún as they are tasked with investigating the murder of a successful Doctor on the island resort of the Westman Islands, located just off the south coast of Iceland. Due to the nature of the scene, there really should be a very finite number of suspects to concern themselves with, but with the disappearance of the doctor’s partner, it seems the suspect pool is very small indeed. Or is it?
I liked the mystery that was tied up in this story. Whilst must of the action centres on the investigation, we also follow the missing woman, Diljá, with some scenes told from her perspective. It creates a good amount of tension and uncertainty in a case which should potentially be clear cut. But then again, when you take into account the very cagey behaviour of the other characters, particularly the friends that the couple were on holiday with, the mystery really does open up. The author does a grand job of muddying the waters, keeping readers on their toes and never allowing us, or the Detectives, to settle for the most obvious solution.
And it is obvious, to a degree, especially when you take into account some subtle clues laid down near the start of the story. But this is a story that is laced with misdirection and secrets, some clues leading readers down a long and winding path when the truth gleefully took a diversion a few kilometres back. I love that I didn’t, and couldn’t, really know who was responsible, that the book kept me guessing until the end. The more we learned of the victim, the clearer it became that anyone could have wanted to see him dead but the truth, when it finally reveals itself is both shocking and heart wrenching.
I really do like the characters of Guðgeir and Elsa. They make a brilliant team and over the course of the series I’ve found myself completely invested in their lives. Guðgeir is an honest family man, content with this life and career, even if it is not as far advanced as it may once have been. As for Elsa, we find her at a very difficult stage in her life. It’s fair to say she went through hell in the prior book, and the aftermath is still making its presence felt this time around. I could really feel her emotions and hesitations, as well as her determination to get back to as close to normal as possible.
From the characters to their emotions, the elements of the investigation, right to the different location in which the story has set, Sólveig Pálsdóttir has once again brought them all to life on the page, the translation by Quentin Bates capturing all the nuances and putting readers right at the heart of the investigation. These books really do hit their mark and reinforce my growing love for Icelandic fiction. Most definitely recommended for fans of a Police based thriller with character and emotion right at its heart.
About the Author
Sólveig Pálsdóttir trained as an actor and has a background in the theatre, television and radio. In a second career she studied for degrees in literature and education, and has taught literature and linguistics, dramaand public speaking. She has also produced both radio programming and managed cultural events. Her first novel appeared in Iceland in 2012 and went straight to the country’s bestseller list. She has written six novels featuring Reykjavík detective Guðgeir Fransson, and a memoir Klettaborgin which was a 2020 hit in Iceland.Silenced (Fjötrar) received the 2020 Drop of Blood award for the best Icelandic novel of the year and was Iceland’s nomination for the 2021 Glass key award for the best Nordic crime novel of the year. Harm (Skaði), published in October 2021 in Iceland, made it to the bestseller list just like the previous books, and is her third novel to appear in English, following The Fox and Silenced.
She took part in several crime fiction and literary festivals such as Bristol’s CrimeFest, Newcastle Noir, Aberdeen’s Granite Noir and Iceland Noir. Sólveig lives in Reykjavík.
About the Translator
Quentin Bates has professional and personal roots in Iceland that run very deep. He worked as a seaman before turning to maritime journalism. He is an author of series of nine crime novels and novellas the Reykjavik detective featuring Gunnhildur (Gunna) Gísladóttir. In addition to writing his own fiction, he has translated books by Lilja Sigurðardóttir, Guðlaugur Arason, Einar Kárason, Óskar Guðmundsson and Ragnar Jónasson. Quentin was instrumental in launching IcelandNoir, the crime fiction festival in Reykjavik.
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