Detective Elinborg leads the investigation into the murder of a man in his own flat in Reykjavik. His throat has been slashed, he is wearing a t-shirt that’s not his, and has the the date-rape drug (Rohypnol) in his pocket. It transpires that he had also taken Rohypnol.
Facing a puzzle with no clues as to the killer, Elinborg – while simultaneously doing her best to maintain some balance with her family and home life – tries to build up a picture of the victim.
The character is well developed and given plenty of opportunity to tell the reader about her thoughts and troubles. The interaction with her family comes across as normal and realistic, and is not so overdone as to intrude on the crime investigation.
What you get here is thoughtful introspection on life, humanity and criminality – all done without boring the reader to death, or making him forget this is a crime novel. The writing is polished without being flowery, and while the dialogue is not razor sharp, it conveys a down to earth picture of something that might be real. In short, it’s believable.
Reykjavik does not have the gloss or glitzy appeal of other cities, and it obviously cannot claim to be a rural backwater, so it’s a credit to the author that he gets the backdrop spot on. He doesn’t overplay the city as something it isn’t, so it’s there but doesn’t take over the story. Some may say it makes the setting anonymous which, I suspect, is exactly the author’s intent. Anyway, the point is, do not read this expecting to experience something of substance in that city, or indeed the country. Instead, savor the gritty resolution of the detective, and a well crafted crime novel.