Review 2073: Blood Floe

Blood Floe is the second book in Christoffer Petersen’s Greenland Crime Series featuring David Maratse, a former police constable who was invalided out of service. Although Maratse keeps telling people he’s retired, he seems to attract trouble.

Maratse has taken his sledge out to train a new sled dog when he comes across the Ophelia, an ice-strengthened yacht that was carrying an expedition team. He sees blood at the gangplank, so he goes on board and finds five people, all either dead or wounded. He also sees signs that they have been drugged.

When the police begin investigating, they find that a sixth expedition member, Dieter Müller, is missing. Dieter is an expert on a 1930’s explorer, Alfred Wegener, and he is searching for a journal believed to be left in a remote cabin. Dieter has found the cabin and the journal.

Soon Maratse is contacted by a wealthy businessman, Mr. Berndt. The expedition was his, but he is more interested in finding the journal than in what befell his team and wants to hire Maratse to find it. Maratse says he’s retired but soon finds Berndt’s stepdaughter in his home assuming he will help.

Meanwhile Maratse’s friend Petra, a police sergeant, has been taken aside and told why finding the journal is so important.

Blood Floe is another interesting mystery with a fair amount of action. I like it best for the glimpses of Greenland life, in this case, sledding and narwhal hunting.

Related Posts

Seven Graves One Winter

Last Rituals

Gallows Rock

Review 2028: Seven Graves One Winter

Before winter in the small Greenland village of Inussuk, the gravediggers dig seven graves and hope that will be enough. One is about to be filled when a man throws a young woman overboard a boat and then runs over her.

Constable David Maratse is nearly ready to be released from the hospital, where he has been recuperating from torture. He has been given early retirement because of his injuries and plans to retire in Inussuk. Once there, though, he and his friend Karl pull up the body of a young woman while fishing.

It’s pretty obvious who she is. First Minister Nivi Winthur’s daughter Tinka has gone missing. It soon seems clear that the murder was political. Although Nivi’s opponent in the coming election, Malik Uutaaq, is running on a platform of Greenland for Greenlanders, not Danes, he prefers his sex partners to be half Danish and very young. Tinka was the most recent. But would Malik actually murder her?

When Nivi meets Maratse, she asks him to help find her daughter’s killer.

Although after two revealing conversations, I didn’t find it hard to guess the murderer, I liked this novel for other reasons, mostly its exotic setting and descriptions of life in Greenland. (How many mysteries have sled dogs in them?) It is described as Arctic Noir on the cover, but except for the crime and the suspenseful ending, it was more of a cozy mystery.

Related Posts

Free Falling, As If in a Dream

Last Rituals

The Water’s Edge

Review 1372: The Greenlanders

Best of Ten!
The Greenlanders took me quite a while to read, and that wasn’t because it wasn’t interesting. My hardcopy book was 558 pages, which isn’t that long a book for me. The type was small, however, and the pages dense, so that I would guess it normally would be closer to 1000 pages long.

This novel is also unusual because it is written in the tradition of the Nordic sagas. Although it centers on the activities of the family of Asgeir Gunnarsson, it also tells of other events taking place in the country, beginning in about 1345 until roughly 1415. Because of this style, the actions of the people are described, but there is little conventional character delineation.

Much of the novel has to do with the events spawned by a feud between Asgeir Gunnarsson’s family and that of their nearest neighbor, Ketil Erlendsson. Asgeir and Ketil are wealthy landowners, but life on Greenland is hard, and no landowner can be assured he or someone in his household will not starve during a difficult winter.

In fact, the Greenlanders don’t know it, but in the mid-14th century, they are at the beginning of a long downhill slide for the country. Although ships used to arrive with relative frequency from Norway or Iceland, at the beginning of the novel, the first ship arrives in 10 years. The Greenlanders hear that much of Europe has been overcome by the plague, and so many people have died that the church has not been able to send priests to Greenland nor has the bishop been replaced.

In fact, Greenland has already suffered some diminishment. There used to be settlers in the Western Settlement but now it is deserted. As time progresses, more and more farms in the Eastern Settlement are abandoned as farmers become unable to support their households. The novel documents famines, illnesses, outlawry, the loss of laws and the country law-keeping institutions as well as weddings, births, and deaths.

Despite its nontraditional approach, I was deeply absorbed by this book and particularly by the events in the lives of Gunnar Asgeirsson, Asgeir’s son, and his daughter Margret Asgeirsdottir. I was particularly struck by how similar the lives of these 14th century Greenlanders were to those of the Icelanders described in Halldór Laxness’s Independent People. I think I mentioned in my review of that book that I assumed it was set in the Middle Ages, only to be floored when I realized it was set in the 20th century.

Related Posts

Independent People

Iceland’s Bell

King Hereafter