Hypothermia – Arnaldur Indridason

[I am not necessarily reading this series of books, featuring the Icelandic detective Erlendur and his colleagues, in the right order. So, if you like what you see here, be warned and check up on the sequence.]

To cut straight to the chase, I think this may be the best Indridason book I have read. So, if that helps, you can skip the rest and pop on to Amazon and get a copy. You will not be disappointed.

First, the story. A suicide of a woman at her holiday home. Nothing suspicious about it, but Erlendur senses something. Then he gets his annual visit from the parent of a kid who disappeared decades ago, just checking in. But the old man is dying, and Erlendur is troubled that he may go to his grave without knowing what happened.

So, despite the lack of any evidence, Erlendur goes solo, in digging around the suicide victim’s life and background. Her father died in a boating accident. Is there a connection? The victim was fanatical about the afterlife. Does that explain her suicide?

At the same time, Erlendur looks again at the file of the boy who disappeared. His cold case talents are among the best, and slowly but surely he gets a clue as to what might have occurred.

And also at the same time, Erlendur’s relationship with his former wife and his two kids, bumps along.

Second, the glory of the book.

What the author does is deliver a smart, compassionate, but realistic perspective on the human condition. And he wraps it up inside a cracking piece of crime fiction, and packages it in an authentic and suitably stark Icelandic backdrop. There are no big bangs, high level cover ups, or world wide conspiracies; just ordinary people, in their ordinary lives, warts and all. But even if the writing is somewhat melancholy at times, there is a fiery spirit of endurance – something like we will overcome! – that very definitely makes its presence felt.

The characters are solid, especially Erlendur. But even those who make a walk on, walk off appearance, make an impact.

The plot is one of his strongest, to date, and even if hardened crime fiction readers will guess what is going on, the author still plays with the readership, just to show he is well aware of the dangers of taking things for granted.

The pacing is steady, relentless, and sometimes the book hints at the edge of the supernatural intruding. Scary.

And, in time honored tradition, I was hoping there was more to come when I reached the end. The sign of a good read.

My overwhelming impression is that an after dinner conversation with the author would be something to treasure. He’s a great story teller, and this is a great book.

Again, kudos to the translator: Victoria Cribb.