The Faroe Islands are midway between Norway and Iceland in the North Atlantic and therefore, from a geographical standpoint, mysteries from that region should have the noir-ish bent of say an Arnaldur Indridason Icelandic mystery or a Jo Nesbo Norwegian mystery. And while The Blood Strand describes the bleak setting of a cold, windy, rainy group of islands, it doesn’t have that overall bleakness that Indridason incorporates into his novels.
Signar Ravnsfjall, noted Faroe businessman, is found unconscious in his car in a lay-by in Tjornuvik, a remote part of the island of Streymoy. There are blood splatters on the car, a shattered window, a shotgun in the passenger foot well and an attaché case of money in the boot.
CID Detective Hjalti Hentze is in charge of the case. Soon after, another body is found, that of Tummas Gramm, a laborer and ne’er-do-well, who has what looks like a shot gun wound in his stomach. Are these two incidents related?
Upon hearing that his estranged father, Signar, is unconscious and hospitalized, Police Detective Jan Reyna is convinced by his Aunt Ketty (who raised him after his mother’s death) to leave England and visit his father. They haven’t spoken in years and their previous encounter was not cordial…as a matter of fact, it ended in a fist fight.
Reyna is met at the hospital by his half brother, Magnus, as strong willed as their father, and equally stubborn and willing to do anything to preserve the family reputation. He is also met by Frida, a cousin who is Magnus’ opposite.
As should be expected, Reyna becomes involved in the investigation, with Hentze and his boss juggling his utility against his kinship with the Ravnsfjall family.
I really enjoyed The Blood Strand which is more than just a murder mystery. Reyna is trying to learn about his family, since he and his mother left the islands when he was three. While doing so, he struggles to figure out where he stands within the family and how much he actually cares about them. Meanwhile, he and Hentze are trying to solve the murder.
Hentze and Reyna play off of each other very well and should author Ould decide that Reyna should remain in the islands and make this into a series, I personally would be quite happy.
P.S. I just learned that The Blood Strand is the first book in a planned trilogy. Excellent!