Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Blood Strand by Chris Ould

First Line: By the time Heri Kalsø had paid for his coffee, Annika Mortensen was already outside, leaning on the wing of the patrol care to smoke a cigarette.

Jan Reyna is a British police detective, but as a child he and his mother fled the remote Faroe Islands. Now he's back. His estranged father has been found unconscious with a shotgun by his side and someone else's blood at the scene. When a man's body washes ashore, Reyna has to wonder if his father is responsible.

At first his quest for answers is made easier by pairing up with local detective Hjalti Hentze, but the more he learns about his family and the more he learns about his mother's reasons for leaving means Reyna is going to be faced with some tough decisions.

Two years ago I read another crime novel set in the Faroes, and I've become intrigued with these remote islands that are found between Iceland and Norway. Author Chris Ould gives readers a good feel for the setting and the customs of the people and even provides a brief basic pronunciation guide to the language which comes in very handy (although the book is not overloaded with Faroese words).

Local policeman Hjalti Hentze was my favorite character, due in part to the fact that he explained local procedure and customs, but also because of his dedication and attitude. Jan Reyna, on the other hand, was abrasive and secretive-- understandable when readers take into consideration that he was spirited away from his home as a small child and-- to his knowledge-- none of his Faroese family tried to get in touch with him. We soon learn that one of the secrets he's hanging tight to involves his life in the UK, and we should be learning more about that in the next books in the proposed trilogy.

Reyna's negative attitude toward most of what he encountered in the islands made me a bit impatient with him, and  it was interesting to see how the author dealt with this as the story progressed.

There's an awful lot to like about this book, but I found it hampered by "too much middle" which slowed the pace down to a crawl. Yes, a small part of that slowness was due to the fact that most of the evidence had to be flown to Copenhagen for analysis (the Faroes are a part of Denmark), but it cannot be held accountable for it all.

Chris Ould has a marvelous setting and two main characters that deserve to be fleshed out even more. Although I did find The Blood Strand to have a flaw or two, I'm still looking forward to the next book in the series.  


The Blood Strand by Chris Ould
eISBN: 9781783297054
Titan Books © 2016
eBook, 352 pages

Police Procedural, #1 Faroes Novel
Rating: C
Source: the publicist 


  1. You know, Cathy, even before I got to the end of your post, I was thinking that the book seemed to move along too slowly for my taste in some places. But still, I do like the sound of those characters. I may put this one on the radar.

    1. Yes, I would like to know more about those two characters myself!

  2. I'm fascinated by all the remote locations that have come to my attention after being used as a setting for a mystery book. Who says you can't learn things from genre fiction - right? Will keep this one in mind. Might have to pick it up for location alone.

    1. I've learned an awful lot by reading genre fiction so I tend to react with a raspberry when someone makes disparaging remarks about it.

      If you really want to read a novel set in the Faroes, I would suggest Craig Robertson's The Last Refuge. It was one of the best books I read a couple of years ago.


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