Summer Reading, Continued...
A novel by Arnaldur Indriðason
Random House, Canada, 2011
Originally published in Icelandic as Myrká, 2008
Translated by Anna Yates
The latest detective novel by Iceland's most successful living author is the ninth Inspector Erlendur book and the seventh to be translated into English, and although it is part of the series, it really isn't an Erlendur book at all. Throughout the story, Erlendur is off in the trackless Eastfjords; the main character becomes Erlendur's co-worker Elínborg, a middle-aged detective and mother of three who also writes cookbooks as a sideline. A good deal Elínborg's domestic life comes through in the novel. Some critics have faulted the book for this, however I think that it gives a proper grounding to the story; I can never get enough of Icelandic culture in any of these Icelandic mysteries- the culture is part of the mystery. It may well be that I have been putting myself into the narrative a little too closely but it's easy to do when there is so much in the story with which I can identify.
The twist this time is that the murder victim is actually a perpetrator, until Elínborg realizes this the investigation goes nowhere. Arnaldur may have turned to a different investigator in order to breathe new life into the series, his writing seems a touch formulaic, although the translation may have had a part in that. It isn't a bad book by any means, but the series may have reached a peak in the previous book, Hypothermia. I haven't seen this title in a US edition yet, perhaps Minotaur, the US publisher, has passed on it.