As he lies in an induced coma in a hospital his boss Ævar and a colleague Eygló are called to a gruesome crime scene at a deserted building site. A charred body is found in a barrel; behind it on a wall an enigmatic message in Norwegian written in a black paint. The police establish that the corpse was of a drug dealer, low in the pecking order, and want to resolve the matter quickly, especially as there might be a perfect villain on the loose, searching for an ex-girlfriend in dodgy clubs in Reykjavik: the notorious Knut Vigeland. The Norwegian despises Iceland yet makes frequent business trips to the country: and so far his activities under the official radar had only damaged the local drug barons. Ævar is determined to tie him to both crimes.
A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS is New Zealander Grant Nicol’s third book set in Iceland. The author’s passion for the country doesn’t mean that the story revolves around picturesque landscapes and tourist attractions. Although some well-known landmarks are mentioned, for example the famous Perlan building, they become points of focus for the plot which mostly moves between the police station, various unsavoury places in the capital, and then further away in the suburbs where nothing good ever happens to the main characters. The use of the Icelandic setting helps to shed light on some perilous issues and deeply unhappy types, as the central drug problem is closely linked to the abuse of women. The narration jumps time-wise and adds to the clever confusion which keeps it interesting. This piece of writing isn’t for those who want things cosy and pretty. But if you are not afraid of getting to know the brutal underbelly of this island, then read about a gritty and violent place to (apparently) bury strangers.
Ewa Sherman, March 2017
'A Place To Bury Strangers' is out now through Fahrenheit Press: http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_BuryStrangers.html