Murder Under the Midnight Sun by Stella Blómkvist

Murder Under the Midnight Sun by Stella Blómkvist


Translated by Quentin Bates | Published by Corylus Books.

Right after I finished this marvelous book, I posted on Twitter “I just read ‘Murder Under the Midnight Sun’ and now I’m sure: Stella is who I want to be when I grow up.” (Since the character and the author share the same name, to avoid confusion, I will refer to the author as “Blómkvist” and the character as “Stella”). She’s such a great character: fearless, scary smart, and not afraid to go after what she wants. All Stella needs to keep her on track is her beloved daughter Sóley Árdís, her trusty silver steed and the warmth of that amber Tennessee nectar.

Her new case seems like an impossible task; a British businessman comes to her with his sister’s deathbed request to track down her daughter Julia. Julia vanished a decade ago while motorcycling in Iceland. Of course, the five million krónur fee is quite an incentive and nothing is impossible for Stella! As Stella retraces Julia’s journey, she discovers that the police investigation missed critical witnesses and relevant information. She locates a couple who traveled with Julia for a few days, and they show her a photo that provides a critical clue.

The mysterious Stella Blómkvist

Mysteries seem drawn to Stella, or is it the other way around? Another one reveals itself while she is shooting a feature on “well-known women on Iceland’s ice caps” for her producer pal Rannveig. Stella falls down a crevasse and finds a frozen arm with a distinctive ring on one finger sticking out of the ice. This becomes a big news story; “The Ring of Death found in an Icelandic glacier”. Then, Rannveig’s father, Thorsteinn Rögnvaldsson, and her best friend are found murdered in a church that has been set aflame; and Rannveig has no idea why they were together or why they were killed. Stella’s got ties to this one as well; her reporter friend Máki was using Ranveig’s father as a source on a news story that could reveal secret information about espionage in Iceland during the Cold War.

As Stella digs into the murders, her pal Máki reports that his source’s father, Rögnvaldur Rögnvaldsson, has lodged a complaint with the police that the report used in his espionage article was stolen. Stella suspects that the murder of Thorsteinn Rögnvaldsson is closely linked to Máki’s reporting. Can all of these events possibly be related or is something else afoot?

All of this is quite a lot to keep track of, not to mention the question of Stella’s daughter’s paternity, which is also in question. But do not fear! Blómkvist weaves the plot threads together like wadmal* so the reader effortlessly glides from one chapter to another. The author is inseparable from her fictional doppelgänger; allowing her to offer penetrating insights into how and why Stella thinks and acts. Anyway, Stella would be bored if she only had one mystery to focus on!

*A coarse, dense, usually undyed wool fabric woven in Iceland and other Scandinavian countries.

Stella always lives life to the fullest, whether it’s solving a mystery (or three), taking a new lover, or enjoying time with her daughter. I think that’s why she’s such an appealing and enduring character, and I hope that Blómkvist never tires of writing about her. This is not to minimize her other fictional creations; each character is deftly and perceptively portrayed, even the missing Julia. I cared about their fates, eager to see justice done and misdeeds punished.

“Murder Under the Midnight Sun” is as rewarding as “Murder at the Residence” and I look forward to my next adventure with Stella!

Please buy/order this book at your local independent bookstore! To find yours, visit Bookshop.org and Indiebound in the US or Indie Bookshops in the UK/Ireland.

Murder Under the Midnight Sun was first published in English in the United Kingdom in by Corylus Books. Translation copyright © Quentin Bates.

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