BLOG TOUR: "Murder Under the Midnight Sun" by Stella Blomkvist

May 20, 2024
Dimitris Passas

Those familiar with Icelandic crime fiction have undoubtedly wondered from time to time about the true identity of the man or woman who has authored the highly successful and popular series of novels under the nom de plume of Stella Blómkvist. The mystery went international when Corylus Books published the first English translation of the saga (Murder at the Residence) and the international readership was introduced to a singular heroine that mixes who is an amalgamation of largely contradictory personality traits. She is courageous and cynical but her bravado only shows when she is dealing with a person of authority, any authority, either politicians and top-tier financiers or thugs and mob bosses lurking in Reykjavik’s underbelly. She always roots for the victim and those too weak to stand up to those who exploit them. In a way, the character is somehow reminiscent of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander or Samuel Bjork’s Mia Kruger adding a distinctive spin.

Murder Under the Midnight Sun is the second book, also published by Corylus, a venture that aims to bring the lesser-known gems from various parts of the world/Europe and succeeds every time. The story traverses several diverse themes with Stella being in a constant fix investigating both under her professional capacity as a lawyer and also as an individual, going rogue to find out the truth. Secrets buried in the past are a common fixation among Nordic crime writers and the enigmatic author Stella is not an exception. The protagonist delves into cases that have references to Iceland’s standpoint during the turbulent times of the Cold War during the 1960s. The same theme has been also addressed by another legendary native crime writer, Arnaldur Indridason, in the sixth installment of the detective Erlendur series “The Draining Lake”.

A Scottish businessman wants Stella to find his long-missing niece; the protagonist makes a gruesome discovery after a near-fatal snowmobile crash; Stella’s journalist finds himself in a terrible predicament on the hunt for a juicy scoop. All these plot strands evolve concurrently and we witness the events through Stella’s perspective and first-person narration. There is also the personal aspect involved as we watch Stella sharing moments with her daughter, Sóley Árdís Blómkvist, and discover her more sensitive side.

Stella leaves her stigma and her allure is impossible to resist. There is so much about her that renders her special. Her ambiguous sexuality and love for Jack Daniels and the minutiae of her everyday professional and family life are the cherry on the pie that is the character of Stella in all of its complexity and charm. The first installment did a tremendous job of hooking as many readers as possible on an international scale and the second one reaffirms the positive reception of its predecessor. His -relatively- short length notwithstanding, the novel packs a severe punch and will leave you reeling for more. I want to thank Corylus Books for including me in this blog tour.

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