I always wanted to go to Reykjavik in a sleigh with Little Kay ever since, as a child, I read The Snow Queen. Later I read all of Tolkien, more than once, and, as an adult, I wanted to go to Middle Earth. The sleigh never worked out, but Middle Earth did, so my story begins with a wizard-like knocking on a door, following the path of an anthropology student searching for her missing father and she moves through many of the real sites where I have lived and scenes which I have imagined there. I have tried to incorporate all my reading of Iceland histories and sagas in an entertaining flow which provides clues to the fictional task at hand. I intended Out of Iceland to reflect the fascinating people and the beauty of that country to a wide audience of mystery readers.
I have lived and worked in Iceland as an English teacher in Mimir in Reykjavik and as an anthropology graduate student in Holarhreppur in northern Iceland and in the Westman Islands on Heimey. My work in anthropology was supported by a Fulbright research grant and I have published scholarly papers in Ethnology and The Journal of Family History. I have a Ph.D. in anthropology, Stony Brook University, an MPH in epidemiology, UC Berkeley, and a BA in chemistry and English, LSU. I taught English at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I have worked as a science writer for The American Museum of Natural History and Scholastic Magazines in New York and as a newspaper reporter for THE RECORD in New Jersey.
“The work is a thrill and a delight.”
– Kirkus Reviews
From above the Arctic Circle comes Dana Eakin, a Dan Brown–style sleuth off to solve her first mystery in this debut novel.
The author Siri Hustvedt once described Iceland as a place where “day never really became night.” Cassin’s book—a kind of archaeological thriller—takes place in that northerly nation, and it’s a wonder that so many dark secrets can hide in a country where the sun never sets part of the year. Like a number of mysteries, the tale opens with a body, this one just barely peeking out from the thick ice. But the corpse is also nearly half a millennium old, and its slow thaw lets loose a bevy of dangers both ancient and modern. The author tasks a number of compelling characters with solving the body’s mysteries, but none of these figures are as intriguing as Cassin’s protagonist. Eakin is a remarkable new heroine—a smart, young anthropologist whose scientific acumen just happens to make her an excellent detective. (Perhaps her most recent literary forebear is Sophie Neveu of The Da Vinci Code.) Cassin hints that this might be just the first of many Eakin novels, and if that’s true, she’s off to a superb start. This tale is intricate and inventive, and its source material—Icelandic culture, epidemiology, lichenology—is quite unusual. That is not to say there aren’t some first-book wrinkles to iron out. Cassin has a tendency to overwrite. Once, when Eakin opens a heavy door, it is “as though she were entering a vault.” The author continues: “That door was authentic archival vault material,” and just a few lines later mentions the same “vault-like doors.” It’s tough to hammer a metaphor home any harder. Furthermore, the chapters—especially early on—are so brief that the narrative sometimes gets disjointed. (By Page 18, Cassin is already on Chapter 10.) It’s as if the author is so excited by her project that she wants to tell readers all of it at the same time. But as the book stretches out, Cassin relaxes. Readers do, too, and the remainder of the work is a thrill and a delight. Audiences will surely hope that this won’t be Eakin’s only case.
A distinctive page-turner starring a fine new detective.
Pub Date: May 10, 2017
Page count: 213pp
Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017
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Ballooning over the desert near Palm Springs
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Discovering the subtext.
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