A police team is called in to investigate a woman’s suicide at the Hólmsheiði prison outside Reykjavík. It looks like a straightforward case, but detective Guðgeir Fransson cannot help taking a deeper interest in Kristín Kjarr’s troubled background. Her artwork fascinates him and he suspects that something was not quite right about her death. His search leads him to a series of brutal crimes committed twenty years before and the unexplained disappearance of the prime suspect. At the same time Guðgeir is alerted to the reports of recent and similar attacks on women, and the links between the previous and the current events make him very concerned that a dangerous copycat is on the loose.
Plot, setting and character
The novel has an excellent plot, where past and present are woven together in an intricate but believable way. It tells the story of keeping up public appearances no matter what the cost and raises the question of how far a family is willing to go to protect dangerous secrets. The novel is primarily set in the capital of Reykjavík and in the districts surrounding the city center. There is an earthquake in the background and we are reminded of the powerful nature of Iceland and the human inability to control it.
As the book opens, the main character Guðgeir Fransson is back in the capital, moving to a new apartment with his family and feeling a lot more positive about life. There is a previous tragedy in his professional life, but he is a determined and rational police officer, who knows what cards to play at the correct time when investigating. Guðgeir is a stubborn investigator, but he is also a warm and compassionate character.
Icelandic author Sólveig Pálsdóttir is an exciting new voice in Nordic Noir and so far two books have been translated into English. They are part of her Ice and Crime series with each book being independent, but with the same main characters – the detective team of the family man Guðgeir and his ambitious colleague Særós.
The Fox is a dark and ominous story set in the small town of Höfn in rural Iceland. It is a mix of thriller and police procedural – with some mythological and surrealistic elements.
Silenced is mainly a police procedural, but a dramatic and captivating read, that deals with themes around power and control, love and fear. The author says she is more interested in human nature than in crimes as such and she loves to create plots that rely on people who could be your next door neighbours. She knows the Icelandic society, how it functions and how norms and attitudes have been changing over the years, and manages to create authentic portraits of people and their relationships. The novel was awarded Best Icelandic Crime Novel of the Year 2019.