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Mystery set in NORTH ICELAND

26th February 2024

The Commandments by Óskar Guðmundsson, mystery set in North Iceland.

TR: Quentin Bates

Mystery set in NORTH ICELAND

This book saves the best ‘til last – and it’s worth waiting for!

The Commandments by Óskar Guðmundsson is set in northern Iceland. Salka’s marriage is disintegrating and she has abandoned the UK to return to her homeland. She has planned a period of recuperation before considering whether to return to her old job with the police. Her holiday has scarcely begun when she is called on to take charge of a murder investigation. Someone has brutally killed a priest, who Salka remembers as the subject of an earlier investigation. It seems that the historical crime is relevant to her new case. Someone has decided to mete out their own form of justice – but who? The author leads us down a complex and twisty path. Eventually the killer is unmasked but there are still issues to resolve and more surprises to come.

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The book is set in a hamlet in the relatively unpopulated area of northern Iceland. It’s a contrast with the relatively urban Akureyri where the police station is located. (Although Akureyri only rates as a small town in UK terms.) It’s an instrospective community, where everyone knows everyone, yet nobody can identify the killer. Salka brings her investigative expertise but also her appreciation of the vast open spaces and dramatic scenery to the piece.

This was a good read, with a couple of possible solutions being dangled before us. One of them had to be right, surely? I’m glad I persevered to the end of the book, because the answer certainly wasn’t as uncomplicated as it seemed. There was more to learn about each of the characters, even after the murder was solved. As usual, Quentin Bates’ translation skilfully conveys the author’s meaning. A recommended read, especially for lovers of Icelandic Noir.

Sue for the TripFiction Team

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Catch our reviewer Sue on TwitterX @SueKelsoRyan and on IG @SueKelosRyan

Quentin Bates, translator, can be found on TwitterX: @graskegur 

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