Desert Island DVDs – Quentin Bates


Iceland Noir co-founder names his favourite DVDs.

British author Quentin Bates has a strong connection with the land of fire and ice. A gap year in Iceland stretched into a decade. His time living in Iceland coincided with Thatcherism and he returned to the UK with a new family to find his homeland was coming to terms with the aftershocks of the Iron Lady’s policies.

Author of the bestselling series of mystery novels featuring Officer Gunnhildur Gísladóttir from the Reykjavik Serious Crimes Unit. His most recent book Thin Ice is an immersive psychological thriller filled with intriguing characters .

In addition to his careers as novelist and full-time journalist, Quentin has translated Ragnar Jónasson’s highly acclaimed Dark Iceland series for Orenda Books.

Committed to promoting Icelandic crime fiction, Quentin is one of the co-founders of bi-annual literary festival Iceland Noir. This year’s event will take place 17 – 20 November at the Nordic House in Reykjavik. Fans will have the opportunity to attend discussion panels, and tour the streets of Reykjavik accompanied by authors and experience readings of murderous deeds against a backdrop of the city’s locations. The cream of homegrown talent will be there alongside writers from neighbouring Scandinavian countries. Amongst those confirmed to attend are Val McDermid, Leena Lehtolainen, Viveca Sten, Sara Blædel, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Sarah Ward, Lilja Sigurðardóttir, and Ragnar Jónasson .

Taking time out from preparations for this year’s festival, Quentin kindly agreed to talk about his Desert Island DVDs.


The Night Shift

‘I’ll kick off with The Nightshift. It’s not just one of the best things to come out of Iceland, it’s one of the best things on the screen, full stop. The premise is straightforward enough, and with three guys working a night shift at a suburban petrol station, it could have been just another sitcom. But the spark that brings it to life and makes it so much more than that comes from the three sharply drawn oddball characters, each on the losing side of life in his own way.’


Jar City

‘This is the film adaptation of Arnaldur Indriðason’s novel. It’s set in a haunting, moody production that showcases a dark side of Iceland that most visitors wouldn’t even suspect exists, let alone see. Ingvar E Sigurðsson makes a fine Erlendur to Mugison’s bizarre soundtrack.’



‘OK, another Icelandic one. It was flawed, maybe a touch over-ambitious, but it was still great. As an extended series on the lines of The Killing and The Bridge, this could have gone badly wrong, but instead makes its mark as Iceland’s contribution to this genre. Ólafur Darri Ólafsson and Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir make an odd, mismatched pair of small-town cops in a portrayal of an unnamed coastal village where murder strikes in the dead of winter.’


The Outlaw

‘The 1981 film adaptation of the Saga of Gísli Sursson, which took place in the Westfjords of Iceland and was filmed not far from where some of the original events took place. It’s a cold, dark, violent representation of dark ages Iceland. For a tragic tale of ancient feuding and sorcery, it’s remarkably historically accurate and also very faithful to the original saga itself.’



‘To break up the Icelandic theme… It’s called Spiral in its subtitled English version.  It’s set in a rough-and-tumble, brutal Paris stretching from rundown banlieues to the smartest echelons of society. I thought The Killing was great, but for my money, Laure Berthaud, her temper, nervous energy and her seedy sidekicks, have the edge over the introverted Sara Lund.’

Thanks to Quentin Bates and Iceland Noir.

Iceland Noir booking details

Quentin’s latest novel Thin Ice is published by Constable


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