'Far North': Ridpath thriller set in Iceland during financial collapse
In Michael Ridpath's new thriller, "Far North," detective Magnus Jonson investigates the deaths of those deemed responsible for the financial collapse that ruined the lives of many Icelanders.
Seattle Times book editor
by Michael Ridpath
St. Martin's Minotaur, 384 pp., $25.99
British crime writer Michael Ridpath has entered a crowded field with his new novel, "Far North," — that of thrillers based in Northern countries, featuring ice, intrigue and violence. While the Sweden-based "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" set this trend on fire, Ridpath's terrain is Iceland, an insular country recently devastated by the collapse of the world economy.
"Far North" takes up where Ridpath's first Icelandic novel, "Where the Shadows Lie," left off. In 2011's "Shadows," Ridpath introduced Magnus Jonson, a Boston police detective working with the Reykjavík police department. Magnus was loaned to that force after, as a witness in a police-corruption scandal, he was targeted for execution. This made it expedient for him to get out of Beantown.
Magnus was born and raised in Iceland, but at age 12 his father moved Magnus and most of the family to the United States for some not very well-explained reasons. This background enables Ridpath to interweave two stories — that of Magnus' family's history and a contemporary mystery involving Iceland's financial downfall. Magnus' position as an insider-outsider makes him an astute observer of Icelanders, a proud, independent and eccentric people whose lives play out against the bleak but spectacular Icelandic landscape.
"Far North" is something of a primer on what happened to the Icelandic economy during the bust. Farmers, fishermen and business people took out risky international loans, and when the economy imploded, their lives and fortunes were ruined. In "Far North," someone is violently dispatching the highfliers deemed responsible for the crash.
Iceland purists may point out that they have their own best-selling thriller writer, Arnaldur Indridason, author of "Jar City" and other brooding mysteries. Test-drive them both — this ancient land has a lot of secrets to be discovered.
Mary Ann Gwinn: email@example.com