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Monday 11 April 2022

‘Death In Dalvik’ by Michael Ridpath

Published by Yarmer Head,
20 April 2022.
ISBN: 978-1-99976558-3 (PB)

Death in Dalvik is the sixth book in the series featuring Sergeant Magnus (Jonson) Ragnarsson.  Although Magnus had been born in Iceland he had moved to America when he was twelve and had grown up there. When the police commission of Iceland came to the US seeking expertise in big-city crime, Icelandic-speaking Magnus was the obvious choice. He had spent three years attached to the Reykjavik Police. Now after a five-year gap Magnus is back in Iceland for two reasons, one of them personal.

Disa’s grandfather is proud to be able to trace his decent back to his ancestor who in 1613 purchased the farm Blabrekka, situated a few kilometres outside the fishing village of Dalvik.  When Disa’s parents split up, she her mother Helga, and her younger sister Anna Ros returned to the family farm. So, when sixteen- year-old -old Disa is told that despite her mother’s job as a doctor there is insufficient money coming in, and they can no longer keep the farm.  Her younger sister is distraught, but Disa says I have an idea.

Some months previously Disa’s father had summoned her to a secret meeting, and although Disa does not like keeping secrets from her mother she agreed to go. He tells her of a new digital currency - bitcoin and gives her five and explains how it works. Initially Disa is not overly impressed but after spending hours on the computer she becomes fascinated and checks the price every evening after school. All indications suggested that the price was rising steadily. Now after several months if she can turn the bitcoin onto real money, she can save the farm. Telling her mother about meeting her father and the bitcoin gift is relatively easy when it looks as if his gift will save their home. 

When Helga’s is found murdered on a hillside above the farm, Magnus is called to investigate, along with Arni who goes at everything at speed, especially driving police cars. Magnus once told Arni he should think outside the box.  He regretted it, Arni mostly needed to do more thinking inside the box. There appears to be no motive but unknown to Disa, who is now away at university, Helga had taken to dealing in cryptocurrency herself buying the newly launched Thomcoin and persuading many of her neighbours to do the same, and also earning commission for doing so. But as Magnus seeks to find out more about Thomcoin he is comes up against a blank wall. One thing he does learn is that the line between legality and illegality surrounding dealing in Cryptocurrency is rather blurred.

 While trying to solve a murder, track down the shadowy people that run Thomcoin, and his complicated personal life Magnus is a busy chap. It was good to catch up with Detective Vigdis, who Magnus had worked with previously, although she didn’t play a huge part in this book.

I admit I struggled to get my head around cryptocurrency, particularly when they talked about ‘mining’ it. I thought it was a bunch of numbers. But I greatly enjoyed the mystery. Like all good mysteries there are many secrets to be unravelled, and many surprises before the killer is identified. Highly Recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

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 four standalone novels the most recent being The Diplomat's Wife in 2021. He lives in London.

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