Thursday, 13 October 2011

Icelandic Mysteries. . .

I started Arnaldur Indridason's latest, Outrage, translated by Anna Yates, on the train home from Ottawa. He's one of my favourite Scandinavian crime writers and I like his tightly plotted police proceedures.  I thought this would be another Inspector Erlendur mystery, but it follows on from the last book,  Hypothermia; at the end of that case, Erlendur took some time off and went away to the Eastern fjords, where his younger brother went missing in a snowstorm decades ago. This event has always haunted him, especially as the body was never found.

So the latest murder case in Reykjavik falls to his colleague Elinborg to solve. A man has been found with his throat slit and the date-rape drug Rohypnol in his pockets.  A subsequent autopsy reveals that the murdered man's body was also full of the drug.  Elinborg has to use old fashioned detective work to discover potential witnesses and to track down possible victims of the man, all the while trying to balance her duties as wife (and main family cook) and mother of three. Which makes a refreshing change from the usual moody, male detective who rarely has mundane parental chores to occupy his mind.  Elinborg worries about everything from her son's obsession with his blog, to guilt over not being at home to help her daughter's knitting assignment (and isn't it great that Icelandic kids have to knit as part of their schooling?).  And she hates having to answer her work cell phone when she's at home.  But she's tough and diligent at her job, and not above firmly reprimanding a colleague when he screws up. The case veers into many lines of investigation including the unsolved murder of a young girl several years ago. Elinborg's patience, cleverness and expertise with Indian spices - she's also a published cookbook author - solve most of the mysteries.

But we're left hanging as to the whereabouts of Erlendur.  Elinborg gets a call informing her that his car has been abandoned and there's been no sight of him. Will we find out what happened in the next book, or will he become a missing persons case himself (obsessed as he is by this type of mystery)?  Indridason may be turning his focus to Elinborg which would be just fine by me as I really liked her as a character.  I do worry about Erlendur though and hope he's safe.

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