Series: Jan Reyna (Faroes Novels)
Book Number: 2
Read this book for: enjoyable characters, procedural accuracy, atmospheric writing, realistic mystery, Scandanavian/Nordic Noir, multiple storylines
Quick Review: A subtle and satisfying read; absolutely pick this one up for the fascinating weave of multiple storylines and bleak atmosphere – another must-read in a brilliant series.
When a group of international activists arrive on the Faroe Islands, intent on stopping the traditional whale hunts, tensions between islanders and protestors run high. And when a woman is found murdered only hours after a violent confrontation at a whale drive, the circumstances seem purposely designed to increase animosity between the two sides. For English DI Jan Reyna and local detective Hjalti Hentze, the case quickly exposes personal connections and con icts of interest. But as they dig deeper it becomes increasingly clear that the murder has other, more sinister aspects to it. Knowing evidence is being hidden from them, neither policeman knows who to trust, or how far some people might go to defend their beliefs.
THE KILLING BAY is the second novel in Chris Ould’s fantastic series set in the Faroe Islands, and follows the investigations of Faroes detective Hjalti Hentze and English DI Jan Reyna, who is visiting the island of his parents to take care of some personal matters with his extended and estranged family. Following shortly after the events of THE BLOOD STRAND, this novel can be read alone, but I do strongly recommend that you pick THE BLOOD STRAND up first, as it helps to inform so much of the story. Plus, you will need to know more after you finish this one!
This series is uniquely set in the Faroe Islands and brings together some of the best elements of Nordic noir and classic British crime fiction, using a Faroese and English detective working together. English DI Jan Reyna is not officially involved in any of the cases, but he brings a more modern, action-based style of police work to Hentze’s more laid-back, thoughtful approach. Lovers of Nordic noir will appreciate the atmosphere, setting, and more subtle, haunting cases. Hentze takes the lead on these local cases with occasional help from Reyna, while Reyna also investigates his unknown family history.
I’ve written before about how much I love the contrast between Reyna and Hentze – they have two very different styles, but they complement one another perfectly. Hentze’s reserved nature seems even more placid against Reyna’s more direct approach, but instead of these differences bringing them into conflict, they reach a deep mutual understanding and appreciation of one another’s styles. Their working relationship is one of choice, so it is more open and relaxed than it might otherwise be, and allows us to see how they are more similar than they might first appear. This mix of styles is incredibly refreshing to read!
This relationship and contrast is also nicely incorporated into THE KILLING BAY, where, even more than in THE BLOOD STRAND, Hentze investigates a local case with minor input from Reyna, while Reyna investigates his own family. Ould does an incredible job of interleaving the stories, bringing them together then spiraling apart again, deftly and subtly. Not just two narratives, Reyna and Hentze follow two totally different cases throughout the novel, making this book even more interesting. This, along with their unconventional relationship, allows this book to break free of so many of the tropes that the crime genre often falls into – which makes the novel incredibly satisfying.
Of course, THE KILLING BAY also benefits from Ould’s capturing of the Nordic noir style in his prose. It is short, tight, and atmospheric, with words carefully chosen and an almost minimalist feel. It helps to make this series very easy to read, and easy to lose yourself in.
Definitely pick up THE KILLING BAY, and continue indulging in this extremely satisfying and brilliant series! I am adding it to my list of must-read Nordic noir, and am already eagerly anticipating the next installment.
PS. Join us here on February 28th for a special post about this series as part of THE KILLING BAY blog tour with Chris Ould!