This crime novel is set in Reykjavik in Iceland and follows the seasoned detective Erlendur as he strikes out on his own on an “unofficial investigation”. The setting is contemporary without being tied to any particular recent events. It is at a time when the office is quiet which gives him the flexibility to follow up on this mystery. Erlendur is troubled by an apparent suicide. He is dogged determination pushes and probes till you can come to the end what is essentially an unsettling conclusion. The book gives a sense of the sparse and unforgiving landscape which has its own beauty lakes and penetrating cold.
Erlendur is throughout the story haunted by the death of his brother and father and his akward relationship with his children and his former wife. This subplot is an undercurrent throughout the entire book. These personal demons are in many ways a driver for his “unofficial investigation”.
Much as his personal journey in this book is set in both the present and the past so is the crime has been committed. This moving backwards and forwards in time shows a sympathetic and caring side to the weary Erlendur.
This continues my fascination with Scandinavian crime fiction. This is the first novel that I’ve read that has an Icelandic backdrop. This is not the first novel by this author Arnaldur Indriason so an exploration of the earlier volumes seems necessary.