This dark thriller, set in Greenland, springs from the imagination of an Icelandic writer who mixes mystic native traditions with murder.
Thóra, a 40-something divorced attorney from Iceland, and her German boyfriend, Matthew, head to a small mining camp in Greenland to investigate the disappearance of three mining company employees. Thóra and Matthew represent the bank that underwrote the project and will have to pay out if the project fails, which is likely since the other workers have left the site and refuse to return. Thóra and Matthew’s job is to find out what happened to the missing woman and two men. Among those accompanying the duo on this trip are a physician, a company geologist, a computer specialist and Thóra’s own secretary, the annoying and petty Bella. When the group arrives after a long, miserable flight followed by a helicopter ride, they end up at an abandoned camp with frozen pipes, little heat and fierce weather. The nearest village isn’t much better, with a native population that doesn’t trust outsiders and barely subsists by hunting and fishing. Soon, the mystery of what happened to the three missing workers heats up when they find digital images of strange things in blocks of ice and make other, even more unsettling discoveries at the site. Sigurdardóttir understands how to add plenty of creepiness and blends in healthy doses of dread and anticipation, launching the novel with a pair of video clips that will make readers think twice before turning the pages while alone at night. But even though the plot is nicely constructed, the writing often seems oddly formal and, in some places, even stilted, particularly in the dialogue, making it a slow and somewhat plodding read. Still, the author scores with interesting characters and a fascinating glimpse of a world far removed from the experiences of most Western readers.
The cast of intriguing characters and exotic setting don’t quite make up for the complicated and slow-moving plot in this murder mystery.