With a man on the ground reporting from Iceland Noir in Reykjavik, we take a look at some of the new authors who are taking part in the conference to tie in with New Talent November. Each of them either has a book out in English, or has one on the way that might be worth checking out. They’re not all Scandinavian, either. Iceland Noir has attracted authors from well beyond the Viking world…
Calvin’s Head by David Swatling
Published just a couple of months ago, Calvin’s Head is about a homeless man and his dog. One day they happen upon a dead body in an Amsterdam park. This solves one of the man’s biggest problems – he moves into the dead man’s house and assumes his identity. But as usually happens in such scenarios, one problem solved dishonestly creates a series of other ones. The dead man was murdered in brutal fashion and the killer has a taste for his art. David Swatling is an American who’s been firmly rooted in Holland for a number of years working in the radio industry, but now he’s a crime author, and how…
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Snowblind by Ragnar Jonsson
This Icelandic author has an interesting history even though he’s still quite young. At 16 he began translating Agatha Christie into Icelandic and that work is now to be found in a leather-bound collection of the Queen of Crime’s novels. His own detective stories take inspiration from Christie – usually they take place in an isolated place with a limited range of unusual suspects. In Snowblind we meet the young police detective Ari Thor, investigating a knife attack on a young woman, and the death of an author in a local theatre. The setting is Iceland’s northernmost town. He’s written five books in the Dark Crime series in Icelandic but Snowblind is out in English in May.
High Noon in Munich by Billie Rubin
The German author Billie Rubin is known in her own country for her series of crime novels set in Nuremberg, which feature her detective character Charlotte Braun. She has also written mysteries located in Munich and Berlin. Her only translation into English is a set of short stories entitled High Noon in Munich. The fire short stories found here might leave you wondering why an English publisher hasn’t yet translated some of her novels for us to enjoy.
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In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward
English author Sarah Ward’s debut comes out in July in the UK from Faber, and in September in the US. Two girls are kidnapped in 1978 – one survives and the other is never found again. In the present day, when the mother of the missing girl commits suicide, the other, named Rachel, decides to find out what happened. Ward is a teacher who decided to follow her passion for writing through writing courses, reviewing, rewrites and chasing a publishing deal. She blogs at Crimepieces.
Season of the Witch by Arni Thorarinsson
This Icelandic author’s first translation into English happened a couple of years back but he’s new to us. The Season of the Witch sees Reykjavik crime reporter Einar now covering the wilds of Northern Iceland and towns like Akureyri. First, a woman drowns during a corporate boating trip up there, and then the lead actor in a local dramatic society disappears without explanation. In such a small place that’s just too much of a coincidence. This author cuts an impressive figure with his unruly hair and his books are wildly popular in Iceland but we think it’s time more were available in English. Try Season of the Witch and tell us if you agree.
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Read more about Iceland Noir here. Thank you to Quentin Bates, Iceland Noir organiser, for his help with this article.