In Erlendur is a recently promoted detective. His world is dominated by drug-dealers, a cold case involving a missing schoolgirl, a CIA operative and the murky history of America’s presence in Iceland.
In the windswept volcanic landscape of south-west Iceland, a vast aircraft hangar rises behind the perimeter fence of the US naval air base. It is night. Inside the hangar, colossal scaffolding reaches to the roof where contractors have been working. There is a clang and a length of piping falls to the ground from a high platform, followed almost immediately by a dull thud as a man’s body falls after it.
Several miles away, a woman is swimming in the milky-blue lagoon formed from waste water pumped out by a geothermal power station. It is an eerie, remote spot but the waters have healing properties. Steam rises from the blue-white lagoon and the moss-grown lava. In the background towers the floodlit bulk of the power station. The ghostly light reveals a shoe sticking out of the water, attached to a body.
Detective Inspector Erlendur is enjoying his summer vacation shut up in his apartment, reading one of his favorite missing-persons stories, when a skeleton tied to a Russian listening device is uncovered. Erlendur takes over the investigation with his usual dogged and obsessive style. No one else really cares about a murdered missing person who might have been a spy, but Erlendur refuses to give up his quest, even if it means digging into Iceland’s socialist past. Erlendur’s enigmatic and irascible former boss, Marion, becomes more than a voice on the phone, as Erlendur, after learning that Marion is seriously ill, begins to visit him. The development of the series characters helps move along the leisurely investigation and keeps the reader engaged. The missing-persons theme and the exploration of Icelandic history and society remain the trademarks of this outstanding series.
Reykjavik police detective Erlendur Sveinsson and his team investigate the murder of a dark-skinned Asian boy, found frozen in his own blood one midwinter day outside a rundown apartment block. The author imbues the self-doubting Erlendur with enormous depth, as an insecure father unable to show his love for his errant son and daughter as well as a troubled professional who’s made pain his constant companion. Indridason also lays bare the plight of Thai women brought to Iceland, married and soon divorced by Icelanders, left to raise their children alone in a culture, a climate and a language they don’t understand. On top of this national tragedy is the universal problem of bored, unsupervised youth, raised with no respect for authority and awash in fast food, rock music and violent computer games. Indridason has produced a stunning indictment of contemporary society.