The Wanderer

The Wanderer

Iceland, 2017: When a young Italian tourist is found brutally murdered at a sacred church in northern Iceland, Magnus Jonson, newly returned to the Reykjavík police force, is called in to investigate. At the scene, he finds a stunned TV crew, there to film a documentary on the life of the legendary Viking, Gudrid the Wanderer. Magnus quickly begins to suspect that there ma...

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Title:The Wanderer
Author:Michael Ridpath
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Edition Language:English

The Wanderer Reviews

  • Paul

    The Wanderer – A Fantastic Icelandic Thriller

    Michael Ridpath once again has proven why he is a master of crime writing with his latest Icelandic thriller, The Wanderer. Well written, well researched Ridpath really knows how to draw in the reader and keep them hooked and always leaves the read questioning whether really have worked out who is the murderer before the reveal. It is not often I have wait until a couple of pages before the reveal to guess who the killer is. Ridpath makes

    The Wanderer – A Fantastic Icelandic Thriller

    Michael Ridpath once again has proven why he is a master of crime writing with his latest Icelandic thriller, The Wanderer. Well written, well researched Ridpath really knows how to draw in the reader and keep them hooked and always leaves the read questioning whether really have worked out who is the murderer before the reveal. It is not often I have wait until a couple of pages before the reveal to guess who the killer is. Ridpath makes you keep thinking you have it, even when you haven’t.

    A young female Italian tourist is found murdered by the side of a church in Northern Iceland, Magnus Jonson is sent north to head up the Inquiry. To complicate matters there is a documentary film crew working at the same time, investigating one of the great Icelandic Viking mysteries, of who discovered America.

    At the same time a parallel story about the discovery of America, whether it was the Vikings of Columbus. That brings in the Vatican Library, rare book dealers, historians and archaeologists. Is there a historical hoax at play or is everything as it seems?

    When a second murder happens, and it is found to be connected to the first, Magnus has to review what he knows and how to proceed forward. What Magnus cans see is that everything seems to be connected to the documentary film crew, but he cannot see how, but he does have some suspicions.

    A totally absorbing read, that keeps you hooked throughout, with some fantastic characters, a great story. Michael Ridpath is a wordsmith who paints so many pictures with words, that reading this book was an absolute pleasure.

  • Rick

    I have read all of the books in this series and enjoyed them immensely. This one seems to promise another installment. I am looking forward to it!

  • Isla Scott

    First off, I found this a reasonably easy read, with short chapters and a plot thats not too difficult to keep track of. The only exception to this being the Icelandic names of the characters (plus the various place names) - I would never claim to be fluent in Icelandic, so I'm glad I don't have to read the book out but really thats a small issue. I liked it as there's more than one story at play - there's a sort of fictional historical story (not that its set primarily in the past but it talks

    First off, I found this a reasonably easy read, with short chapters and a plot thats not too difficult to keep track of. The only exception to this being the Icelandic names of the characters (plus the various place names) - I would never claim to be fluent in Icelandic, so I'm glad I don't have to read the book out but really thats a small issue. I liked it as there's more than one story at play - there's a sort of fictional historical story (not that its set primarily in the past but it talks about Christopher Columbus' presumed discovery of America and questions whether Scandinavian's may have actually discovered America before Columbus) as well as the contemporary crime story. There's an authors note following the end of the main text, at the back of the book, which clarifies what is fictional and what has a true historical basis.

    I was interested in both parts of the story (sub plots) and I liked how different chapters move the focus from one character (or set of characters) to another. I found myself being left guessing what may happen next and being proven wrong. At one point I was suspicious that I may have guessed who had committed the crime but then I was proven wrong within a few pages of reading on and that left me even more keen to read on and find out what the ultimate outcome was.

    Also, as far as the crime element is concerned, it isn't horrendously gory or violent in terms of descriptions etc., which was good for me as I can be a bit put off by books which are especially gory. If you like Scandi crime noir type shows then this may be of interest to you and I'd say its worth a read. I believe the main character, Magnus, has been written about before and I hadn't read any of the authors' previous novels featuring him but I found it (as I say) easy to follow the story and get an idea of who the people were, obviously including Magnus, so I wouldn't say it should put you off reading it, if you haven't read other novels featuring Magnus before either.

    I felt the ending was a little unlikely - you may need to suspend disbelief for the very ending - the last 10 pages or so at least. Also, I noticed the quote on the front cover which reads 'One of our finest thriller writers - Daily Mail'. Well, I wouldn't (personally) categorise this as a thriller read as such, as it isn't especially action packed or fast paced as such. I'd say crime drama (with a bit of history) is a better description.

    If it interests you, I'd say its worth a look but its not a particularly amazing or memorable book (many books aren't) - its a good quick-ish read all the same though.

  • Linda Hepworth

    Iceland, 2017: When Magnus Jonson is called in to investigate the murder of a young Italian tourist at a sacred church in northern Iceland, he finds a shocked TV crew there. They are in the middle of filming a documentary on the life of Gudrid the Wanderer, the legendary female Viking who, a thousand years earlier had travelled thousands of miles, started to explore a new continent (North America), farmed in Greenland, married and had a son there, before finally returning to Iceland to settle do

    Iceland, 2017: When Magnus Jonson is called in to investigate the murder of a young Italian tourist at a sacred church in northern Iceland, he finds a shocked TV crew there. They are in the middle of filming a documentary on the life of Gudrid the Wanderer, the legendary female Viking who, a thousand years earlier had travelled thousands of miles, started to explore a new continent (North America), farmed in Greenland, married and had a son there, before finally returning to Iceland to settle down with her family. Magnus, who had only recently returned to the Reykjavik force after working as a detective in America, quickly comes to believe that there are probably more links to the film crew, and the focus of the documentary, than any of the crew will acknowledge. As tensions increase, old friendships are put under the spotlight and history begins to rewrite itself: a second murder shocks everyone and makes Magnus question everything he thought he knew.

    I found this an easy to read but engaging and entertaining story, with enough twists and turns in the search for the murderer to add an element of tension to the story-telling. The fact that by about halfway through the story I had managed to solve that mystery didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book because there were other elements which held my interest. I loved the way in which the author interwove historical links to the Icelandic Sagas with a modern-day story, using as a central theme the fact that Viking explorers discovered Greenland and North America sometime around AD 1000 – several centuries before Christopher Columbus! Although a major thread in his story is based on fictionalised historical events, in his author’s note at the end of the book he does make it clear what is fact and what is fiction.

    This is a reflective murder mystery rather than a “high-octane” thriller, with most of the tension in the story-telling coming from the gradual exposure of all the secrets which the various characters were trying to conceal. Although I found most of the plotting, as well as the various characters and their interrelationships interesting and reasonably credible, most of my enjoyment of this story came from two sources, the author’s evocative descriptions of Iceland and Greenland and his creative use of history. His personal fascination with both shone through his narrative and made me want to discover more, something which always adds a welcome extra dimension to my reading experience and this influenced my decision to give this story a four-star rating. However, I do have a minor niggle! Two additions would have helped me to enjoy this story even more – a map showing the various locations in Iceland (there was one for Greenland) and a guide to pronunciation of characters’ and place names!

    Although this is the fifth in “ The Magnus Iceland Mysteries” series, I found that it was very easy to read as a stand-alone story because there were enough hints about the main character’s background to make sense of who he was and what motivated him. It was clear from the way in which this story ended that there will be another book in the series and, when it is eventually published, I’ll be tempted to read it to discover more about Magnus, his colleagues and Icelandic life!

    My thanks to Corvus and Readers First for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Bucks, Books & Beyond

    I haven’t read anything by this author before but what drew me to this book is that it’s set in Iceland, a county I have visited, and i’m always interested in reading books set in places I have been. I find it interesting reading other people’s descriptions of places to see how they fare against my own.

    I liked the fact that this book is broken down into fairly short chapters. This is a book where I read short chunks at a time and the storyline is one where it is easy to pick up where you left o

    I haven’t read anything by this author before but what drew me to this book is that it’s set in Iceland, a county I have visited, and i’m always interested in reading books set in places I have been. I find it interesting reading other people’s descriptions of places to see how they fare against my own.

    I liked the fact that this book is broken down into fairly short chapters. This is a book where I read short chunks at a time and the storyline is one where it is easy to pick up where you left off.

    I enjoyed how the author implicated many of the different characters in the murder of Carlotta with each of them having believable and valid reasons for wanting her out of the picture. As the story progresses, one by one the evidence exonerates each of these characters until we are left with one, the murderer. As I read through the book I felt like I was working the investigation alongside Magnus and trying to piece together the clues and evidence to solve the mystery.

    We don’t learn a whole lot about Magnus as a character in this book. There is some mention of his struggles with having been born in Iceland but spending the majority of his time living in America, and there is some mention of a previous relationship and a child from when he last visited Iceland, but the story does mainly focus on the investigation development and not character development in my opinion.

    The character Magnus has featured in other books by the author and i’m interested to read more about this character and what investigations he has been involved in. This book is a classic ‘who done it’ type of book and I would recommend for anyone who likes this kind of story.

  • Rachel Hall

    My only past experience with the novels of Michael Ridpath is through his financial thrillers which I found enthralling but this is my first read of his Icelandic based crime thriller series that features Inspector Magnús Ragnarsson (Jonson) of the Violent Crimes Unit of Reykjavík CID. Although of Icelandic descent, Magnús was transplanted to Boston as a teenager where he became a homicide detective and has spent most of his life so far. After a previous secondment with the Reykjavík Metropolita

    My only past experience with the novels of Michael Ridpath is through his financial thrillers which I found enthralling but this is my first read of his Icelandic based crime thriller series that features Inspector Magnús Ragnarsson (Jonson) of the Violent Crimes Unit of Reykjavík CID. Although of Icelandic descent, Magnús was transplanted to Boston as a teenager where he became a homicide detective and has spent most of his life so far. After a previous secondment with the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police an opening for a detective sees Magnüs return to the country after a hiatus of five years. Although this is technically the fifth novel in the Fire and Ice series it works perfectly well as a stand-alone with the back story of Magnús and his career and life to date unobtrusively drip-fed as the story unfolds.

    An intriguing prologue set in Italy in 1979 sees a US academic and professor of Viking history, Nancy Fishburn, and two rare book experts discussing the possibility that Norsemen may well have discovered Greenland and America long before Christopher Columbus made his recorded discovery. Cut to Iceland in 2017 and the filming of a documentary on the extraordinary story of Gudrid the Wanderer who was Erik the Red’s daughter-in-law and an explorer who was born is Iceland, married in Greenland, had a son in Vinland and later embarked on a pilgrimage to Rome. Preparing to unveil the contentious Columbus theory in the forthcoming documentary on the basis of the discovery of two pieces of controversial evidence (a traditional wampum shell excavated in Greenland and a letter from Columbus found in a book housed in the Vatican Secrets Archives), interest in the finished documentary promises to be high. When the film crew stumble across the body of a murdered Italian tourist on location in Glaumber, Magnús is sent to investigate an incident that is practically unheard of in Iceland. With the crew initially all denying knowing the murder victim the barely concealed tension and anxious behaviour soon gives Magnús reason to believe that not all are being entirely truthful with their assertions.

    As he gradually roots out their undisclosed secrets and the body count rises, Magnús is forced to acknowledge that the answer must lie within the commissioned documentary. Searching for a motive linking all of three murders soon leads him to doubt the veracity of the supporting evidence and he begins to suspect an elaborate hoax and audacious attempt to rewrite history. A third-person narrative that includes snapshots into the past and the discovery of the actual ‘evidence’ serves to further involve the reader in the unfolding drama. With the production company and financial livelihood of English producer, Suzy Henshaw, dependent on the success of the documentary, the career of presenter Eygló and the reputations of academics Dr Einar Thorsteinsson and Professor Marco Beccari all at stake, everybody involved has plenty to lose. As Magnús’s quest takes him to Greenland and deep into the past it throws up a handful of viable suspects with a constantly shifting spotlight casting doubt on them all!

    In contrast to the stereotypical Scandinavian crime novels which typically feature a morose and damaged detective with a multitude of their own problems, forty-one-year-old Magnus feels pretty normal and in the wake of solving his father’s murder his main preoccupation is that he feels neither typically American or Icelandic and is unsure where he really belongs together with a recent messy relationship breakdown with Icelandic native, Ingleif. The crime in question is steeped in the prevailing history of the country and Magnús’s personal fascination with the history and culture of the country gives him a genuine interest in finding the answers. Michael Ridpath conveys the background coherently, making it accessible and easy for the layperson to grasp with a good balance to the focus on Magnús’s life outside the police force making him actually feel human. Differences between the US approach to detection and the more transparent Icelandic approach are also neatly highlighted with Magnús used to operating in Boston from the standpoint of a suspect not even knowing they are on his radar with the Icelandic approach much more direct and transparent.

    The novel is not without its flaws however with Magnús certainly not the most skilled detective and the approach of his black female colleague, Vigdís Audardótti, heavy-handed and blunt. Furthermore there are lengthy periods given over to explanations of the sagas, history of the country and changes in the aftermath of the financial crash of 2008 which some readers may find dry. There is also little explanation for the reasoning behind the leap of intuition made by Magnús and his suspicions regarding the authenticity of the artefacts which are crucial to supporting the theory behind the new documentary. In truth this matters little and allows for a fast-paced and entertaining investigation with the added benefit of providing a wealth of background detail on a fascinating country, its history and the culture of a very modern Iceland.

    In theory nothing about this series should work with an odd mash-up of a detective who is something of an outsider in the country of his birth and seen as an American, and a plot that concerns itself with everything from volcanic eruptions to rewriting the lost sagas of the country. The surprise, however, is that Michael Ridpath skilfully pulls it off and this all makes for a hugely satisfying investigation with real depth. An offbeat and entertaining Icelandic police procedural with a focus on the changing face of Iceland that and is packed with everything from regional colour to an insight into the psyche of the natives. A hugely compelling read and whilst the prose is at times a tad lifeless and without much flourish, I was completely gripped. Set against the bleakly beautiful backdrop of Iceland it all makes for a highly atmospheric encounter and The Wanderer is a richly rewarding read and a great introduction to a series that I intend to catch-up and continue with.

  • Maureen

    This is the second book in a series featuring Magnus Jonson, born in Iceland, raised in America, a former Boston detective, returned to his native country to continue his work. He's caught between worlds, not quite Icelandic, not quite American.

    I found I could easily follow this book without having read the first one, there were some references to the previous story, enough to give context into the current story but it didn't feel so much history was missing as to not be able to follow the char

    This is the second book in a series featuring Magnus Jonson, born in Iceland, raised in America, a former Boston detective, returned to his native country to continue his work. He's caught between worlds, not quite Icelandic, not quite American.

    I found I could easily follow this book without having read the first one, there were some references to the previous story, enough to give context into the current story but it didn't feel so much history was missing as to not be able to follow the characters and their motivations. Though there was one storyline in this book that was left hanging which I suppose would be continued in the next. I enjoy reading book series but it's disappointing to me when the individual books aren't stand alone stories. It's one thing to leave a little mystery to encourage going on to the next book, but in this story what was left hanging was a very large part of the side story that developed which also gave insight into Magnus as a man but also as a detective, since he can't separate one from the other.

    I was surprised to find the author was English, I had thought it was written by an Icelander, so the research was well done: how The Sagas are truly woven into their culture and lives; intertwined lives and connections in such a small country where everyone's somehow related; the custom of addressing everyone by first names; the push and pull of the present and the past that roots what they do now in the who they came from.

    I wanted to read this since I had recently visited the Land of Fire and Ice. I hoped this book would capture the feel of the people and the land, and it did.

    4 stars - In the past I might have given this only 3-3.5 stars, but I've revised my definition of 4 stars from "would read it again" to "would read it again, or others in the series, or others by the author". Though this would not be a book I would read over again (like I would a classic) I did like the characters and may continue in the series and/or may read other books by this author as I thought the writing was well done.

  • Helen

    Pleased that Magnus, the "American Icelander", has returned to Iceland for a fifth story in this series - I was afraid we had seen the last of him. This is an enjoyable, fairly quick book to read, set mainly in Iceland and Greenland, with a main story based around the Viking discovery of America. A film crew is making a documentary about the history of "Vinland", but discovers the body of a murdered Italian woman at a church in the north of Iceland, which Magnus is sent to investigate. As well a

    Pleased that Magnus, the "American Icelander", has returned to Iceland for a fifth story in this series - I was afraid we had seen the last of him. This is an enjoyable, fairly quick book to read, set mainly in Iceland and Greenland, with a main story based around the Viking discovery of America. A film crew is making a documentary about the history of "Vinland", but discovers the body of a murdered Italian woman at a church in the north of Iceland, which Magnus is sent to investigate. As well as the tensions between the film crew and its advisors, questions begin to arise about two pieces of evidence which support the theory that the Norse explorers had actually reached an identifiable location in Nantucket: a shell necklace of native American origin found at the site of a dig in Greenland, and a letter found inside a book at the Vatican. Academic rivalry and literary forgery are always good breeding grounds for crime (and the original forgery appears to have been done partly as a joke, something which has been known to happen elsewhere when people have wanted to supply the missing link in a country's history or literature!)

    The modern post-crash Icelandic setting is up to date and the descriptions of Iceland and Greenland vividly drawn: there's a second story involving an attack on a former policeman which perhaps develops a bit unevenly, although maybe we will see more of him if there are further instalments. There is also the possibility that Magnus has a child which he didn't know about from a previous relationship, so another suggestion of future developments. This book would probably be fine as a standalone if you have not read the others - enough of the back story is revealed without too much recapping.

  • Gill Chedgey

    Michael Ridpath has written umpteen books about policeman Magnus Jonson but this is my first one. There seemed to be several references to a past that might be worth exploring in previous books since Magnus seems to be a likeable, if ever so slightly flawed, character, personable and zealous in the execution of his duty.

    Since I don’t believe in coincidences and having very recently read The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson I’m wondering if this is the year of the Icelandic novel for me?! Ce

    Michael Ridpath has written umpteen books about policeman Magnus Jonson but this is my first one. There seemed to be several references to a past that might be worth exploring in previous books since Magnus seems to be a likeable, if ever so slightly flawed, character, personable and zealous in the execution of his duty.

    Since I don’t believe in coincidences and having very recently read The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson I’m wondering if this is the year of the Icelandic novel for me?! Certainly the tale does credit to the country, aside from the crime of course! The writer conveys a real sense of Iceland; what it is to live, work and travel to and from a country deemed to be the most sparsely populated in Europe. Clearly he loves the country. The book is rich, too, in the history and legends of Iceland and it is that which provides the catalyst for the fiction. Yet the book has a truly international flavour. An Italian tourist is murdered close to a location where a documentary film crew are making a film about Gudrid The Wanderer. When there is a second murder it becomes clear that this is far from being a ‘simple’ crime.

    What follows struck me sometimes as a cross between Dan Brown and Stieg Larsson, Icelandic style!! It’s a myriad spider web of blurred lines and half truths, tangled relationships, red herrings and twos and twos making fives. But as with most crime stories you know as you are reading that the perpetrator is there right in front of your eyes. But can you make the right connections? Can you get there before the police do? I found the plot enjoyable and thought provoking but I can’t say why or I’d have to indulge in a spoiler and I’m just not in the mood!!

    But in fact there was more than plot at play in this engrossing story which bulked it out a bit. But if I’m honest I’m not sure exactly what it added to the book as a whole other than allow some character development for Magnus.

    Although blurbed as a thriller I feel that is a little misleading it’s more an historically flavoured crime fiction. It’s easy to read with a comfortable narrative style from an experienced writer. It must surely satisfy fans of Ridpath and Magnus and gain some new ones in the process.

    Many thanks to Readers First and Corvus books for the opportunity to read this. Michael Ridpath is now definitely on my radar.

  • Marjorie

    2.5 Stars

    The best bit of this book for me was the Viking Sagas and the little dollops of history served out at the beginning of the book. The story of the Vikings and their exploration to unknown territories is endlessly interesting and I think there is little doubt they discovered the land now known as America long before the accepted discovery in the 15th Century. The only problem with that is there is no hard archaelogical evidence to support the theory.

    In this book M

    2.5 Stars

    The best bit of this book for me was the Viking Sagas and the little dollops of history served out at the beginning of the book. The story of the Vikings and their exploration to unknown territories is endlessly interesting and I think there is little doubt they discovered the land now known as America long before the accepted discovery in the 15th Century. The only problem with that is there is no hard archaelogical evidence to support the theory.

    In this book Michael Ridpath takes that and runs with it - a letter from Columbus to his brother is found in the Vatican Secret archives appearing to detail information from Icelandic Sagas that leads him to America. Couple this with the finding of wampum shells at a Nordic settlement in Greenland and it would seem that the proof finally exists. Unfortunately for the team making a documentary about the wanderings of Gudrid and her family this leads them to discover the brutal murder of a young archaeologist at a site closely linked to Gudrid and they could all be in danger.

    Sadly for this reader it all then falls apart somewhat. I found there to be little in the way of sympathetic characters in the book and there are a lot of loose ends left untied at the end. As this is just one of a series of books around Magnus Ragnarsson then I can understand that but it does mean it loses a little as a stand alone read; this is a pity as knowledge of the previous books in the series is not necessary to read this one - indeed we are told so much of Magnus' history that it may be of a detriment to have read earlier books.

    The thriller aspect of the tale is pretty standard fare but I found that I could not really become interested in the who or why; it was all just a little bit flat. The writing itself is good and does evoke Iceland and Greenland very nicely and actually makes them seem like a great destination to visit. What it doesn't do is immerse you in the characters so you care about what is happening, or the who or the why.

    Pretty standard fare that is an easy read but doesn't really involve you as more than an observer.

    I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK FROM READERS FIRST IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.

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