The Gathering Storm
A novel by Arnaldur Indriðason
Harvill Secker, London, 2012
Originally published in Icelandic in 2009 as Svörtuloft (The Black Fort), Arnaldur Indriðason's second crime novel without Inspector Erlendur is set in Reykjavík in 2008 during the run-up to Iceland's financial meltdown. This time the main character is Sigurdur Óli, an investigator in the homicide division of Iceland's CID.
A convoluted plot involving sex, blackmailing and murder is set into motion when Sigurdur tries to help an old school chum who is being shaken down for his involvement with a "swingers" group a couple of years earlier. The list of persons of interest expands rapidly, taking the detective into the dazzling world of the newly-rich banking class. The author further explores this class stratification in a parallel story about a pathetic young alcoholic whose demise is not completely unrelated to the corruption that Sigurdur uncovers at the top.
This may be the most unrelentingly bleak of Arnaldur's crime novels since Voices. Sigurdur Óli's distaste for much of Icelandic culture (he prefers American Baseball and Football) is fully justified by the actions of the novel's characters. Arnaldur does use the City of Reykjavík as a vivid backdrop to the story; there is a lot of background here for those bitten with the "Iceland bug."