Quentin Bates: Nautical Journalist Turned Crime Novelist

Although the rate of violent crime in Iceland remains mercifully low, the last few years have witnessed a rapid increase of crime fiction not only being written by Icelandic authors, but also Icelandic crime fiction being translated into other languages. An interesting statistic from an article published in The Iceland Review in 2008 notes that “Since 1997 over 70 crime novels have been published by Icelandic authors (relative to population, that’s the equivalent of 15,000 crime novels being published every year in the UK).” Given Iceland’s evocative landscape and relative isolation, it is perhaps surprising that there haven’t been more crime novels written by non-Icelanders. Perhaps, then, Frozen Assets by English author Quentin Bates (who has lived in Iceland for ten years and speaks the language fluently) is a sign of things to come. The novel is the first in a series of crime novels starring Officer Gunnhildur and centers around the discovery of a body in the harbor of a rural Icelandic fishing village.

The novel’s setting seems appropriate, given Bates’ experience working as “netmaker, factory hand and trawlerman” and his job as a “a full-time journalist [and] a feature writer for an obscure nautical trade magazine,” which is, he goes on to explain, “a dream job for anyone who gets a kick out of visiting industrial estates and tiny harbours miles from anywhere.”

Bodes for some entertaining reading very soon…

For more on Bates or his other writing projects, check out his website, Graskeggur (which means “Graybeard” in Icelandic).


9 thoughts on “Quentin Bates: Nautical Journalist Turned Crime Novelist

  1. Never was a detective story fan but this looks interesting! Thanks for the review.
    I read somewhere Lafcadio Hearn mentions the “fascination the human race has always had with islands.” Could “island fiction” be an example?

  2. Give the crime fiction a go sometime! I think it’s a really fascinating (and entertaining) genre as a whole, and particularly well suited to the winter.

    It’s interesting–cold island fiction (as opposed to tropical) seems to be a genre unto itself. Of course, I generally gravitate toward colder environs, so perhaps it’s just me…

  3. I guess the common element in all stories is “what happens next” and crime stories accentuate that aspect.

    The settings of Dorothy Sayers’ Peter Wimsey stories are so cozy, which is their appeal for me. It’s the remembered physical sensation of coming into a warm room from the cold outdoors in the winter that is part of the reading experience . I’m thinking of “The nine tailors”. It would be fun to speculate on mysteries set in the tropics. I know there are some but I’ve never read any.

    But how ’bout the “Miami Vice” TV series? In those there’s a contrast between rich and poor. The social environment becoming even more important than the physical. Seemingly there is no limit to human activity in the tropics. No fierce winters. But there is also the enervating heat, lack of opportunity for individual fulfillment and above all the history of enslavement, appearing at every gathering like a difficult relative who must be invited because they are part of the family.

  4. He had a non-fiction book printed in 2001 by Hutton Press, a British firm, “Life on the Edge – at Sea with British Fishermen.” My library system can’t get it but I broke down and ordered “Frozen Assets.”


  5. Me too…!

    Life on the Edge isn’t easy to find these days. It was the last book published by Hutton Press before Charles Brooke decided to call it a day and retired. There are second-hand copies here and there, but if you really want one, drop me a line and I can send you one of the handful I have left.

    • Hi, Quentin,

      Larissa was kind enough to inform me you had left a comment on her site regarding “Life on the Edge”. Would I like a copy to read ? You bet!

      Pete P.

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