Saturday, December 27, 2008

Iceland: "Arctic Chill" by Arnaldur Indriðason - Review

Arctic Chill
is the fifth book featuring Reykjavik detective Erlendur Sveinnsson to be translated into English – the first two in the series, Sons of Dust and Silent Kill, are still not available to the English reader.

The bitter cold of an Icelandic January sees Inspector Erlendur and his team - Sigurdur Oli, struggling with the concept of adoption as his wife desperate for a child, and Elinborg, whose own infant is sick – investigating the death of a ten year old boy found stabbed and abandoned in an icy garden.

His mother is a Thai incomer, and Erlendur must consider a range of suspects from teachers and classmates to neighbours and local racists. Matters are complicated further when it seems that a dangerous paedophile might be living in the area. At the same time Erlendur is preoccupied not only by the disappearance of a local housewife but also the questions raised during a visit from his daughter, Eva Lind, which he does not wish to answer.

This is a compelling police procedural which I can thoroughly recommend: Erlendur is in the mould of depressed Scandinavian detectives Martin Beck and Kurt Wallander, but is his own man, and the gradual unravelling of his personal tragedy from novel to novel is intriguing, as is the insight into Icelandic society and the finely drawn characterisations and spare prose style.

The next Erlendur novel, Harðskafi, promises much. It apparently takes the detective back to his childhood home (see below) deep into his soul and the defining trauma of his youth, the loss of his younger brother. Released in Iceland in 2007, it is due to be published in English in the Autumn of 2009 under the provisional title Hypothermia.


Anonymous said...

Good review - I loved this book, and think that each one improves on the last. It is a pity that the first two in the series have not been translated. Thank you for the news about the next installment - I'm looking forward to it.

Dorte H said...

I enjoy your reviews quite a lot and have just been looking in your archive, especially the Skandinavian ones of which I have read quite a lot.
How many languages do you read in?
I like reading English, Norwegian and Swedish books in the original language but I must admit that when reading Arne Dahl in Swedish I also miss some of the finer points (and read embarrassingly slowly).

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