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Saturday 24 November 2018

‘The Wanderer’ by Michael Ridpath

Published by Corvus,
6 September 2018.
ISBN: 978-1-78239-873-8 (PB)

This thriller sees the return from Boston of the intrepid Icelandic-American detective Inspector Magnus Jonson to the fire and ice territory of Iceland and Greenland to investigate some extraordinary crimes.  The body of a young Italian woman is found in mysterious circumstances near an ancient church and the spotlight of suspicion focuses on a TV crew filming a documentary about Gudrid, a legendary female Viking, who, 1,000 years earlier explored across continents.  As the novel progresses, more characters meet a sticky end and Magnus, who has featured in the author’s earlier books, seems no nearer to apprehending the perpetrator as the death count stacks up.

The wide-ranging research undertaken has been skillfully drip-fed into the story, the plotting is clever, with interesting twists and turns and the characters credible, if not exactly likeable. What is stunning is the way in which the author creatively introduces the reader to the fables and sagas of Iceland and interweaves these elements of history, fiction and myth into a contemporary crime drama.

Another pleasing dimension is the author’s dramatic description of the topography and weather conditions that directly orient the reader in the landscape   and makes him/her truly involved in, and caring about, the action.  

The clear, narrative style flows well and, like a stream of lava, doesn’t falter and the author’s experience as an engaging storyteller   shines through, the secrets, lies, divided loyalties, betrayals and hoaxes keeping the reader agog, guessing and entertained throughout.  A cracking whodunit.
Reviewer: Serena Fairfax
Michael Ridpath was born in Devon in 1961 but brought up in Yorkshire. He was educated at Millfield, Merton College, Oxford. Before becoming a writer, Michael Ridpath used to work in the City of London as a bond trader.  He has written eight thrillers set in the worlds of business and finance. In 2010 he published the Where The Shadows Lie, the first in the Fire and Ice series featuring an Icelandic detective named Magnus Jonson. He has published four further books in the series.  In between the writing the series he has published three standalone novels the most recent being Amnesia in 2017. He lives in London.

Serena Fairfax spent her childhood in India, qualified as a lawyer in England and practised in London for many years. She began writing by contributing feature articles to legal periodicals   then turned her hand to fiction. Having published nine novels all, bar one, hardwired with a romantic theme, she has also written short stories and accounts of her explorations off the beaten track that feature on her blog. A tenth, distinctly unromantic, novel is a work in progress. Thrillers, crime and mystery narratives, collecting old masks and singing are a few of her favourite things.

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