Magnus Jonson is a detective from Boston who's moved back to his native Iceland, trying to fit in while working in the police department. The country is still recovering from the kreppa, or crisis, brought on by the recklessness of its bankers; in a country so small, those responsible are well known. They're also dying, one by one, and it's up to Magnus (who made his debut in Ridpath's 2011 novel, Where the Shadows Lie) to figure out why.
Michael Ridpath weaves a tale of two generations in Far North. The story of the modern-day murder investigation unfolds with a delightful sense of place and culture, showing readers the stark beauty and practicality of Icelandic culture and peoples. It seems as if everyone reads Icelandic epics or knows them from childhood; each character has a personal connection with Icelandic history and mythology. (Meanwhile, Inglief, Magnus's free-spirited girlfriend, messes with the investigation by talking to people she knows or is related to.) Nearly 80 years before all this, though, two neighboring boys in Iceland witnessed an illicit affair between their parents, and became bitter enemies over a lifetime of secrets not shared, secrets that reflect on Magnus's Icelandic heritage.
The setting alone will thrill readers interested in Iceland and its many charms, while the story of the financial crisis is timely and plausible, filtered through the Icelandic culture as Far North builds up to its satisfying climax. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor