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Arnaldur Indriðason & Icelandic Crime Fiction..

February 6, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

These last few months I’ve been mostly reading The Reykjavik Murder Mysteries by the Icelandic writer Arnaldur Indriðason

The key figure in these stories is Detective Erlendur who on the face of it is fairly stereotypical cop; he’s a loner, he’s divorced and his grown up children don’t really like him, although unlike most of the other literary sleuth’s I’ve read, he does usually do things by the book and is not prone to over the top outbursts of rage or anger.

What I really enjoy about these Reykjavik Murder mysteries and the stories that Arnaldur writes his chief protagonist into, is that they are absolutely credible, possibly even to the point where they border on the mundane. There is rarely more than one body in each novel, and they are almost always discovered within the first few pages. The rest of the story revolves around the Icelandic landscape, the Icelandic weather, relationships with other police officers and lots of basic detection work, visiting people, asking questions and trying to piece together what happened…

Covers Combined

Detective Erlendur lost a brother on the mountains when he was young. The body was never found and this sense of loss and lack of closure permeates the missing persons cases to which Erlendur is always drawn. Iceland has one of the highest suicide rates in the world and the temptation is for the police to assume that many of the missing people have headed off into the wilderness to take their own lives. Erlendur however sees things as more complicated than this and picks away at the evidence in the hope of finding answers.

It’s all very low key, but it’s undoubtedly the strangeness and lure of Iceland and the Icelanders themselves that attracts me; the cold, the dark, the constant smoking, the eating of sheep heads… and the seemingly unrelenting drabness of it all, conjour up, along with Arnaldur’s wonderful prose, a world very different from my own…

Check out this trailer for the excellent film verison of Jar City from a few years back… If this appeals, then Detective Erlendur is the man for you…

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