book holiday politics

Lockdown reading


I tracked down a crime series of books set in Siglufjörður, Iceland to read in readiness for a visit in Summer 2020 and you know all about what happened next. The series is by
Ragnar Jónasson (and translated by Quentin Bates)

Snowblind (Dark Iceland #1), 2015
Nightblind (Dark Iceland #2), 2015

Snow Blind cover

My Goodreads reviews

I was meant to be going to Siglufjodur, Iceland last year (long story) and again in 2020 (familiar story) and I love fiction with a good sense of place. Snowblind combines both and what a delight. It starts with a map which is usually a good sign and helps set the scene of a community struggling with regular activity in the unrelenting darkness and heavy weather – plus hidden secrets. The flawed lead character (I mean he has personal flaws) has potential in developing in the already-published series so I am hooked. The translator has also written books set in Iceland so that is a win-win. Highly recommended.

Nightblind is well-constructed crime story making powerful use of the remote, deep winter setting. A planned visit (postponed by the virus crisis) led me to this series and it has become a great compensation. I also feel rewarded by the developed characterisation. It is a fascinating insight to where they live and where they would rather be. I will read the others.

Frozen Out, Quentin Bates, 2016 (also called Frozen Assets)
I thought I would give the translator’s own book a try and I have not been disappointed. Different location and characters, of course, but both very effective and with a good set up. It’s the first of a series named after the main character, Officer Gunnhildur.

The production on this book seems cheap with thin, yellow paper and grey print. There are few pages before and none after the story itself. It’s enough to send anyone to an e-reader.


The Nanny State Made Me: a story of Britain and how to safe it
Stuart Maconie, 2020

I am really impressed by the mixture of manifesto and memoir. It’s not a heavy read and is well-written. Researched from a variety of sources. Unfortunately there isn’t a bibliography or list weblinks. Perhaps someone should do one and post it online.

Mudlarking cover

Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem, 2020
Oh, I loved this. Everyone should have a hobby – or is it an enthusiasm – or obsession? It is read with ease and the structure is the different sections of The Thames. Essentially, it is the pursuit of small objects and their story. It is history of people and what they lost or threw away. It touches upon Kings and Queens, and spans centuries, because London is that sort of place but the stories relate to ordinary folk and what they made. There is an extraordinary story about printing. In the modern way Lara Maiklem continues her mudlarking story through social media. Read and you will follow.

It has been time well spent in staying home to stay alive.

I do like the link between geography and stories and I have written about some of my own here

By Angus Willson

The editor of this site and author of this blogpost.

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