The Killing Bay by Chris Ould

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The Killing Bay by Chris Ould

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Magda Healey
Reviewed by Magda Healey
Summary: Set in the Faroes but featuring an English policeman with local connections, this combines anti-whaling protests with dark shadows of the past, and well-rendered setting and supporting characters to make a very enjoyable if not outstanding example of a novel that sits somewhere between Nordic noir and a Scottish police procedural
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: February 2017
Publisher: Titan Books
ISBN: 978-1846971303

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Between the Scando-noir and the Highlands-and-Islands crime, it was only a matter of time until a series featuring a life-weary detective set in Greenland, Iceland, or thereabouts appeared. And here we are, with a series based in the Faroes.

The Killing Bayis the second instalment in the new series featuring the English DI Jan Reyna, visiting but linked to the islands by his family history and the local cop Hjalti Hentze. I didn't read The Blood Strand but I didn't have any problems reading the second novel, although of its two plot strands, one - Reyna's research of his origins, and especially of his mother's life and death - runs across the two existing novels and looks to continue in the third one too.

The second plot strand, the new case Hjalti Hentze tackles and Reyna manages to get involved in somehow, takes the foreground of the story, though, and it's an interesting and a fairly exciting one as it involves a murder of an employee of an international anti-whaling organisation whose contingent has recently decamped to the islands, protesting the traditional grind - whale hunts - and creating tensions between locals and protesters as well as a lot of police and security business. Whether the murder is a provocation by the protesters, retaliation by the locals or something connected to the woman's private life rather than her job is not at all clear and the plot thickens very nicely all the way to the climactic finale.

Chris Ould is an experienced screenwriter, and this shows in The Killing Bay. The storytelling is impeccable, and there is never any doubt as to who is doing what and where. It's not a breathtaking page-turner, but it doesn't get boring and balances well between the two plot strands (the case and the digging in Reyna's family's past).

The Faroes were there - not in your face there, and not even as a main character in the story, but there. I didn't like it initially, maybe expecting more of a description, but it grew on me, made me feel the story was more realistic and setting it on the far-north islands wasn't a gimmick. I also liked how the locals were not depicted as ethnographic curiosities and throwbacks, but as people living in a modern and interconnected world, but with local specifics kept.

What I didn't like was the fact that I couldn't get a handle on the main characters, particularly on Jan Reyna. Maybe not having read the first novel made a difference here, but usually, a reader can develop some idea of the person after reading 300+ pages about them, including some insight into their thoughts, but Reyna remained very opaque to me.

All in all, an enjoyable if not outstanding example of what sits somewhere between Nordic noir and Scottish procedural - I will be looking out for the next one.

Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell is set at much more urban archipelago, while Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow by Peter Hoeg takes the reader on a thrilling journey from Copenhagen to Greenland. If the dark flashbacks to the past are what appeals to you, I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir might be the right choice. You might also like Errant Blood (Duncul Mysteries) by C F Peterson, The Man Who Wasn't There by Michael Hjorth and Hans Rosenfeldt and Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder.

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Buy The Killing Bay by Chris Ould at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Killing Bay by Chris Ould at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Killing Bay by Chris Ould at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Killing Bay by Chris Ould at Amazon.com.

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