One thousand years ago: An Icelandic warrior returns from battle, bearing a ring cut from the right hand of his foe. Seventy years ago: An Oxford professor, working from a secret source, creates the 20th century’s most pervasive legend. The professor’s name? John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. Six hours ago: An expert on Old Icelandic literature, Agnar Haraldsson, is murdered. Everything is connected, but to discover how, Detective Magnus Jonson must venture where the shadows lie….
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Iceland 1934: Two boys playing see something they shouldn't have. The consequences will haunt them and their families for generations. Iceland 2009: the credit crunch bites. The currency has been devalued, savings annihilated, lives ruined. Grassroots revolution is in the air, as is the feeling that someone ought to pay.... And in a country where everyone knows everybody, it isn't hard to draw up a list of exactly who is responsible. And then, one by one, to cross them off.
FreeFlow is a group of activists dedicated to freedom of information. They have evidence of a military atrocity in the Middle East and are preparing to unleash it. On the glacial rim of an erupting volcano, they christen their endeavour Operation Meltwater. Minutes later, one of them is murdered. Magnus Jonson has a long list of suspects but he’s getting little help - for a group dedicated to transparency, they’re a secretive bunch. But they are not the only ones with secrets. Asta, a newly qualified priest, has contacted FreeFlow with damning information about the former Bishop of Iceland.
Oli and Magnus Jonson have spent decades trying to escape from the shadows of their past. Raised by their grandparents in Bjarnarhofn, a remote farmstead in Iceland, both brothers had to endure brutal violence at the hands of their grandfather. When Constable Pall Gylfason is called to investigate a suspected homicide in a remote farmstead, he is surprised to find Detective Magnus Jonson is already there.
When a polar bear is sighted in a sleepy Icelandic fishing village, then shot dead by local policeman Constable Halldór, it triggers a debate in the local community. Was Halldór a hero for killing the bear, or should the animal have been protected? Animal rights activists in the area see the constable as a villain, and when, days later, the dead body of Halldór is discovered at a remote beauty spot, the activists are immediately under suspicion.