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Updated: 08/04/2022
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Where The Shadows Lie   What critics have said about Where The Shadows Lie...

“Michael Ridpath is on the war path, trouncing the Scandinavians on their home turf. This is international thriller writing at its best, fine characters, page turning suspense and a great, fresh location.”
Peter James.

“a superbly entertaining thriller… Michael Ridpath, no stranger to big sales figures, has another hit on his hands.”
Mike Ripley, Shots.

“A clever blend of murder mystery, myth and up-to-the-minute mayhem … Whether you’re a fan of orcs, Gimli and Legolas or Elmore Leonard and The Sopranos, there’s something in this quixotic, atmospheric alternative thriller for you.”
Peter Millar, The Times.

“A five-star effort as an entry in the select genre called ‘Icelandic novels written by non-Icelanders’”

“This is a good story set in a fascinating place and spiced with some sharp observation.”
Jessica Mann, Literary Review.

Publisher’s description

Amid Iceland’s wild, volcanic landscape, rumours swirl of an eight-hundred-year old manuscript inscribed with a long-lost saga about a ring of terrible power.

A rediscovered saga alone would be worth a fortune, but, if the rumours can be believed, there is something much more valuable about this one. Something worth killing for. Something that will cost Professor Agnar Haraldsson his life.

Untangling murder from myth is Iceland-born, Boston-raised homicide detective Magnus Jonson. Seconded to the Icelandic Police Force for his own protection after he runs afoul of a drug cartel back in Boston, Magnus also has his own reasons for returning to the country of his birth for the first time in nearly two decades – the unsolved murder of his father.

And as Magnus is about to discover, the past casts a long shadow in Iceland.

Binding Iceland’s landscape and history, secrets and superstitions in a strikingly original plot that will span several volumes, Where The Shadows Lie is a thrilling new series from an established master.

Why I wrote the book

My first book, Free To Trade published in 1995, was a big success: a record advance for a first novel, number two on the bestseller lists for three months and translated into over 30 languages. I followed that up with seven more financial thrillers where I honed my skills as a writer. The books were getting better, but the sales were slowly falling. I was the country’s foremost financial thriller writer, but no one was buying financial thrillers.

So I decided to change genres. I visited my local WH Smith and realised that of the kinds of books I could write, two dominated the shelves: thrillers about lost manuscripts and ancient secret societies, and crime stories featuring distinctive detectives. I decided to go for the distinctive detective.

I came up with two possibilities: a good cop in a corrupt country – in this case a Saudi Arabian policeman, and an Icelandic detective. I had visited Iceland on a book tour, found it a fascinating country and vowed to write about it some day. I tried these two ideas out on friends. Everyone hated Saudi Arabia. To my surprise, everyone was intrigued by Iceland.

I then faced a problem. I am not an Icelander, but I needed a detective who spoke Icelandic. My solution was Magnus, who left Iceland when he was twelve to go with his father to America. After his father was murdered, Magnus joined the Boston Police Department as a homicide detective. Ten years later he is seconded to Reykjavík as an adviser. This gives me the opportunity to write about Iceland through the eyes of a partial outsider, as well as giving my detective all kinds of problems of his own.

After a year of research and a year of writing, I was very pleased with Where The Shadows Lie. I was concerned that publishers would be wary of re-launching my career, so I submitted the book under a pseudonym. I am glad to say that it was taken up by Corvus, and publishers in 17 other countries, including Iceland. Now, on to the next one.