Sunday, October 04, 2009

Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason

Protagonist: Insp. Erlendur
Setting: Reykjavik, Iceland
Rating: 4.5

The fifth in the Erlendur series to be translated into English, this book opens with the murder of a young Thai boy – stabbed and left to die in the snow. His half-brother, meanwhile, is missing. A straight police procedural, the novel delves into anti-immigrant feelings in Iceland. Indridason also introduces another case into the novel: a missing woman, newly married. And the boy’s death also unveils part of Erlendur’s past: as a boy, he and brother were stuck in his blizzard. While Erlendur was saved, his brother was never found. While his brother's death is always close to his thoughts during this investigation, Erlendur is loath to speak about it to his children – who are very interested in their father’s past.

Scandinavian novels have a reputation of being bleak. Arctic Chill doesn’t disappoint in that regard. The prose, stripped down and spare, adds to this – there is no sense of warmth, even when the cases are solved. Arctic Chill isn’t the best book in the series – Jar City and Silence of the Grave were far better – but this is still a very good book.

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