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Cold Comfort : An Officer Gunnhildur Mystery
Officer Gunnhildur, recently promoted from her post in rural Iceland to Reykjav�k's Serious Crime Unit, is tasked with hunting down escaped convict Long Ommi, who has embarked on a spree of violent score-settling in and around the city. Meanwhile, she's also investigating the murder of a fitness guru in her own city-center apartment. As Gunna delves into the cases, she unearths some unwelcome secrets and influential friends shared by both guru and convict. Set in an Iceland plagued by an ongoing financial crisis, Gunna has to take stock of the whirlwind changes that have swept through the country--and the fact that at the highest levels of power, the system's endemic corruption still leads, inevitably, to murder.
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January 10, 2012
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Excerpt from Cold Comfort by Quentin Bates
Freedom tasted good. To Long �mar Magn�sson freedom
tasted of hot dogs with ketchup and onions and washed down
with a cold can of malt. He thrust out long legs beneath the
caf�'s plastic table and belched luxuriously. A woman with a
brood of children at the next table turned her head and
frowned, but he met her stare and she thought better of saying
"Where are we going now, Ommi?" asked the tubby girl at
"Town. Your place."
"We can't go there," she wailed. "Mum'll go mad if she sees
you. She knows you're not out for another year."
"Good behaviour, Selma. Tell her I've been a good boy and
now I need some fun."
He drained the can of malt and stood up, shaking his legs.
"Come on. There's stuff to do."
Selma hauled herself to her feet and trotted towards the
door with Ommi towering beside her. As she squealed in surprise,
the woman with the brood of children again turned her
head in irritation, in time to see a broad hand stretched down
to cup a buttock, half under Selma's short skirt. The woman
opened her mouth to speak, but before she had decided what
to say, the pair had gone, with Selma's squeaks receding into
"Laufey!"Gunna called for the second time.
"Laufey Oddbj�rg Ragnarsd�ttir! School!"
She brushed her teeth hurriedly and examined herself critically
in the mirror. Time for a haircut, she thought. Good
teeth, strong nose, thick eyebrows . . . Cupping a hand to lift a
mouthful of water, she swirled and spat as Laufey appeared in
the mirror behind her.
"Finished, sweetheart. All yours."
Laufey nodded blearily and said nothing.
Gunna switched on the radio and waited for the kettle to
boil while Channel 2's morning talk show chattered in the
background. Laufey shambled back to her room and shut the
door behind her.
"If she's gone back to bed. . ." Gunna muttered.
The kettle steamed itself to a climax and clicked off as
Gunna poured cereal into a bowl.
"Laufey!" she called again. The bedroom door opened and
Laufey appeared, dressed and holding her school bag. "You'll
have to be a bit smarter getting up if you're going to college in
Keflav�k next year."
"Reykjanesb�r, Mum. You shouldn't call it Keflav�k any
"Keflagrad they call it at the station, there's so many foreigners
"Mum, that's a bit racist, isn't it?"
Gunna sighed. "Maybe, but it's too early in the morning to
argue about it. D'you want some breakfast? There's cereal or
Suddenly the radio caught her attention and she turned the
volume up quickly.
"A prisoner who absconded recently from Kv�abryggja open
prison is still at large and is reported to have been seen in the
Reykjav�k area. Police have issued a description of �mar Magn�sson,
thirty-six years old. He's one-ninety-nine in height,
heavily built, with medium-length brown hair. He has heavily
tattooed forearms and was last seen dressed in jeans and a dark
jacket. People are warned not to approach him, but to report
any sighting to the police on . . ."
Gunna spun the volume dial down to zero.
"Friend of yours, Mum?" Laufey asked slyly.
"Yup, most definitely one of mine right now. Actually, he's
"A criminal from Hvalv�k? Really?"
"He left Hvalv�k before we moved here. Come on, I've got
to go in ten minutes if you want a lift."