#BookReview - A Pearl for My Mistress by Annabel Fielding

A story of class, scandal and forbidden passions in the shadow of war. Perfect for fans of Iona Grey, Gill Paul and Downton Abbey.

England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady's maid in a small aristocratic household.
Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.
Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital... and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society's most dangerous secrets...

The years leading up to the Second World War are one of my favourite periods to read about so I was delighted when Annabel Fielding contacted me to ask if I'd be interested in reviewing A Pearl for My Mistress. Many thanks to …

#BookReview - Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson



1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…
In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik, who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.
Haunting, frightening and complex, Rupture is a dark and atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland’s foremost crime writers.

I foolishly didn't start reading Ragnar Jónasson's Dark Iceland series until this spring but once I came to my senses it was love at first read. I binge read the first three books, Snowblind, Nightblind and Blackout but then realised if I read Rupture at that point I'd have a long Ari Thór drought until the publication of Whiteout this autumn. So, I waited, my Kindle mocking me with the picture of that gorgeous cover a constant temptation. The leaves have started to turn though and I could finally return to Siglufjörður, and I can say right now the delayed gratification was completely worth it!
 Rupture takes some of the elements of the first two chronological stories, Snowblind and Blackout and combines them. It has the claustrophobic feel of the first novel, (this time it's a deadly haemorrhagic virus that sees the inhabitants of Siglufjörður trapped rather than the weather) and the multiple narratives of Blackout, with news reporter Ísrún making a welcome return.
Ari Thór, with nothing to do in a quarantined town, has agreed to investigate a cold case. In 1955 woman died while living with just her husband and another couple in Hedinsfjörður, a remote, uninhabited fjord. The official verdict was accidental suicide but now new evidence may have come to light and it seems the couples weren't alone there after all... Meanwhile Ísrún is now a fast rising television news reporter. Desperate for any story she contacts Ari Thor hoping for a scoop from the locked down town. She agrees to help him with his case but before long her focus is on a contemporary crime - the kidnapping of a young child, snatched from outside a cafe in broad daylight. Her nose for a story also leads her to a recent hit and run, and into the murky world of politics. Rupture acknowledges that life is often complex and messy - even when the truth is uncovered perhaps circumstances mean what is right and just aren't always possible.
Ari Thór still has a tendency to be taciturn, his history means he seems to hold something of himself back, even to his own detriment. Nevertheless he is driven to seek the truth, even if he doesn't always believe in justice. He is an honourable and likeable man whose reticent nature shouldn't be misunderstood, his understanding of human nature actually runs deep. Ísrún is fiercely ambitious, she is willing to take risks and push things but she is not an amoral journalist and retains her strong moral code. Her ability to draw stories out of people contrasts with Ari Thór's tendency to misanthropy
As with all the books in this Dark Iceland series, Rupture is compellingly atmospheric, Ragnar Jónasson's writing is so immersive I don't just read his books, I feel them. There are some scenes that are chilling in every sense of the word and I experienced that heart in mouth apprehensive feeling of dread despite though there being little actual danger in this story. It's the suggestion of violent acts that's so unsettling here, not the witnessing of them.  However, it's not just these scenes that are palpable, so too are the quieter moments, particularly Ari Thór's claustrophobic frustration at being stuck in town. I love books that stimulate my senses, where I experience every emotion, Rupture does just that whilst also being an intelligent and nuanced thriller. Quentin Bates superb translation also deserves high praise, it's easy to forget the book wasn't originally written in English.

 I can't wait to read Whiteout now!


Rupture is published in the UK by @OrendaBooks. You can follow Ragnar Jonasson on Twitter as @ragnarjo and Quentin Bates as @graskeggur.

About the Author

Ragnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 15 countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Ragnar is a member of the UK Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) and set up its first overseas chapter in Reykjavik. He is also the co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.


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