Bengt Alvsaker 2: Ice Cold – Agnes Lovise Matre

Norwegian title: Iskald

Good morning friends!

This is my third crime novel review in a row! Rather crazy right? I read this one back in February for the Book Prize I’m judging in April so therefore I haven’t been able to post this review before. This can be read as a standalone if you haven’t read the first one. Ice Cold is a mysterious story about a rather cold-blooded murder so if you like that sort of thing keep on reading! The synopsis is borrowed from Goodreads and translated by me:

At 05:00 AM the start signals for Norseman Xtreme, the world’s toughest and coldest triathlon competition, can be heard from M/F “Utne” ringing around the mountains of Hardanger. The local sheriff, Bengt Alvsaker, is one of the 250 nervous competitors who jumps into the dark and cold fjord. When he and the other contestants reaches the shores of Eidfjord to continue with their bikes, the contestant with start number 22 is left behind lifeless in the water.

Bengt Alvsaker and his team are facing their most challenging case thus far. The hunt for the murderer will stir up old dirt in the small village and reveal old and painful secrets. The idyllic villages of Hardanger will never feel the same again.

Ice Cold starts off with a lot of action and plenty of chaos for the reader to settle into. Why someone would willingly accept to participate in a triathlon is beyond me. I have enough with the stairs I have at work when I’m running up and down with trays full of drinks and food! I was early pulled into the story but this chaos we get introduced to at the start seems to follow our characters around for a rather long time. Meanwhile, Matre gives her readers several threads to keep track of in the beginning in the book and I got the sense that this book could end up in multiple ways, except for the real one since I never guess that one, do I? The thing about this experienced chaos and its many threads is that Matre actually has managed to weave in important information all around for her readers to pick up on later in the story. How satisfying isn’t that?! I had several of these experiences where I remembered something that had been mentioned earlier and that made the book more engaging!

Storywise it took me a while to fully connect the story together with all its characters even though the book is written with an easy language. I think the reason is that there is a lot of these earlier mentioned threads and chaos. There are very few slow sections in this story. You get the sense that something is constantly happening either it is made obvious to the reader or not, and let me tell you, this village has a lot of dirty secrets so there’s plenty to choose from! There is a lot of ‘reader traps’ in this crime novel as well, and by that, I mean sections of the book where the reader can get the sense of having figured out the story. You, aka me, sense that you’re onto something but you’re not quite able to grasp what exactly. Your brain is working on your theory whilst you’re reading until you’re proven wrong. Or right, but in my case it’s always wrong, haha. Again, the loose threads are essential to this impression and also the characters because Matre created some very complex characters with a lot of layers to them. Kind of like an ogre according to Donkey. A little Shrek reference there.

This book contains several good characters and among them are Bengt, our main character.  He has many different sides to him but I feel that Matre has done a really good job of portraying a cop living with his new girlfriend whilst being the father of a young boy. The relationship between Bengt and his son is complicated because Bengt doesn’t quite know how to be a father but also because his work takes up a massive amount of time. I think a lot of parents, not necessarily just cops, can relate to these two perspectives on one level or another. I don’t have kids so I can’t really say anything. I just think its very well portrayed with Bengt’s feelings and Thomas reactions. I think we got to know Thomas more in the previous book about Bengt because reading reviews online I see a lot of people refer to previous books when talking about certain topics. Lerke, our crime technician, is another character I quickly learned to appreciate. I think its really cool when females have such a job as crime technician! According to the World Wide Web Matre’s sister works as a crime technician which explains why these parts of the book is so brilliantly formulated. Lerke herself tries to help Bengt out with his relationship with Thomas and I think in many ways she makes him see reason in what he does wrong and why. I really enjoy the parts of the book where we follow Lerke’s perspective and we get to follow her line of thought. She seems to really be a woman in the right kind of job, and I hope she’ll stay around for future books!

Ice Cold is chaotic but filled with action. It has a good language that makes it easier to stick with the chaos instead of giving up. The many layers of the story give the crime a great appeal and makes it difficult to solve before Matre sees it fit. If you enjoy action filled stories with many secrets to be revealed then Ice Cold is right up your alley!

Published: 2019

Genre: Crime novel

Theme: Family, murder, small town

– The Book Reader

44782367. sy475

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