Meltwater (Fire and Ice) by Michael Ridpath
|Meltwater (Fire and Ice) by Michael Ridpath|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Book three in the Fire and Ice series sees a freedom-of-information activist murdered as Eyjafjallajokull erupts. It's an intriguing mystery firmly anchored in a particular period of time and all-the-more believable because of it.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: June 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
A group of internet activists decided to base themselves in Iceland whilst they prepared their latest exposé. This time it was a video of a purported Israeli attrocity which needed verifying and preparing for publication. All would have been well - or as well as such things ever are - if one of the group hadn't been murdered on a visit to a volcano. It was a volcano which caused the second problem - not the erruption of the small, pretty one which the group had visited with fatal consequences, but the big, ugly one which no one could pronounce and which disrupted air traffic all over Europe in the spring of 2010. Yes. That one. Eyjafjallajokull meant that travel too and from Iceland was exceedingly difficult and it disrupted the investigation of the murder.
The activists are FreeFlow, a group committed to freedom of information. Think Wikileaks, who were the inspiration for the group. There were any number of controversial incidents in the Middle East just prior to this time and we all remember the disruption caused by the erruption of Eyjafjallajokull. Meltwater is a story solidly based in a particular time and this gives it a real strength, a real feeling that this could have happened. I was particularly struck by the descriptions of what happened after the erruption of Eyjafjallajokull. I'd seen the pictures - but there was a real immediacy in the words.
Magnus Jonson has matured as a character since we first met him in Where the Shadows Lie. He's still got that sense of not quite belonging where he is, or where he came from - his departure from Boston in the USA was covered in the first book in the series - but he's more settled now, in his job if not in his personal life. The character who really grabbed me was Erika Zinn, the effective leader of FreeFlow. She's amoral where her personal life is concerned, home is where she is and the money that's needed to support FreeFlow and herself will come from somewhere. Her obsession - that information should be freely available and wrongs made public - takes no prisoners. She's a superb, if not particularly likeable creation.
There's an on-going story in the series - that of the mystery of the death of Magnus Jonson's father in the USA some years before. I missed book two in the series but managed to pick up the story without a lot of difficulty. It's a teasing background to the main story, but not so compelling that the cliff-hanger ending to this thread worried me unduly.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For more Icelandic crime we can recommend the Sergeant Gunnhildur series by Quentin Bates. Start with Frozen Out and then move on to Cold Comfort another book which is firmly set in the current events in Iceland. This time it's the financial crisis.
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