This is a book in the series featuring another of my favorite defective detectives, Erlendur, in which his troubled youth and family woes are fully exposed. There’s a melancholy mood to the man, which somehow does not get in the way (too much) of him doing his job as a murder detective in Reykjavik.
A maid discovers the body of the hotel doorman, brutally stabbed, just before his appearance as Santa Claus at the hotel’s children’s party. The victim is something of a mystery figure; although a long term employee and hotel resident, nobody seems to know much about him. It’s up to Erlendur and crew to sort things out.
The gradual uncovering of the man’s past, and the various story threads revolving around that are brilliantly handled. And you get a real sense of Iceland (as viewed by the author). The characters are top of the line, and the atmosphere is not too dark so as to be depressing. It’s more a sort of fateful acceptance that sometimes life is shit. And sometimes that acceptance is shit, too.
It’s believable, realistic, and engrossing. Highly recommended.