Where the Shadows Lie (Fire and Ice) by Michael Ridpath

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Where the Shadows Lie (Fire and Ice) by Michael Ridpath

Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The proposed sale of the manuscript of a lost Icelandic saga brings murder in its wake. Splendid depiction of Iceland and a treat for those who enjoy the work of Tolkien.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: June 2010
Publisher: Corvus
ISBN: 978-1848873971

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Magnus Jonson was in some difficulty in Boston. He'd overheard another detective getting himself involved in something illegal and when he reported this he found that even the good guys weren't terribly fond of him – and the others would prefer to see him dead before the case came to trial. The solution was simple but unusual: Jonson was born in Iceland although he'd mostly grown up in Boston and the police in Iceland wanted someone to give them some help in beefing up their murder squad. Jonson disappeared from Boston, telling no one where he was going and resurfaced in Iceland. Simple? No.

Disappearing isn't easy when you have to leave people behind, and particularly people who might be in danger because of you. Reappearing somewhere else has its problems when your superior officer makes it quite clear that he'd rather not have you there. It's even harder to be the one giving advice when you make a complete ass of yourself when you receive some unwelcome information. But whatever else you might say about Magnus (and opinions are divided) he doesn't give in easily when someone has been murdered and there's a murderer out there on the loose.

It began rather unusually with the death of a Professor. He'd been involved in trying to sell a manuscript containing a long-lost saga, which was said to have inspired Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. A ring, thought to have terrible powers, was also involved and when you set this amidst Iceland's harsh and volcanic landscape it's difficult not to feel the need to curl up somewhere warm and cosy.

I've got an admission to make: I'm not a fan of Lord of the Rings or Icelandic sagas, but if you are then the book will undoubtedly appeal to you more than to me. I'll confess to having nearly fallen asleep whilst reading the lost manuscript, which, in fairness, is not that long. Apart from the fact at plot relies quite heavily on coincidence in a couple of places that's the criticisms out of the way.

It's a good story, with plenty of action, twists and turns and I really hadn't worked out the name of the killer until the metaphorical handcuffs were about ready to be applied. The Icelandic landscape plays a major part in the story, from some really quite lush areas which I wasn't expecting through to the volcanoes with which we're all now rather too familiar, even if we can't always pronounce them. The plot too has its roots in fact and is a speculation on the problems which Tolkien had in linking The Lord of the Rings with his earlier novel, The Hobbit. It's definitely plausible.

This is the first in a series of books but reads perfectly well as a stand-alone although there are hints that the death of Jonson's father might feature in the future. I had slight personal reservations (3½ personal stars, or 4 if you're at least neutral about the sagas) about this book but I'll definitely be looking to read the next book in the series and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending Where the Shadows Lie to the Bookbag.

For more Icelandic crime we can recommend Tainted Blood by Arnaldur Indridason

Buy Where the Shadows Lie (Fire and Ice) by Michael Ridpath at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Where the Shadows Lie (Fire and Ice) by Michael Ridpath at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Where the Shadows Lie (Fire and Ice) by Michael Ridpath at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Where the Shadows Lie (Fire and Ice) by Michael Ridpath at Amazon.com.


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