Saturday, April 25, 2015
"Reykjavik Nights", by Arnaldur Indridason
Prequel to the inspector Erlendur series (volume 10)
Translating and publishing books out of sequence seems to be the trend for Nordic publishers these days. After so many exciting outings we go back in time to the roots of our famous protagonist. Mr. Indridason has carefully reinvented Erlendur and we find him in 1974 as a young officer working the beat mostly on traffic duty during night shifts and dreaming in becoming a detective one day. Although part of a series this 10th installment can be easily read at any time it stands well on its own.
The multi-faceted mystery centers on both Erlendur duties as a patrol cop and on the case involving the death of Hannibal, a tramp Erlendur is acquainted with. On his own time, Erlendur starts an investigation and finds himself deep into the hidden miseries of alcoholism and homelessness. It doesn’t take him long before connecting Hannibal’s case with that of a missing woman and seeing himself slowly drag into the strange and dark underworld of Reykjavik smack in the middle of a criminal gang.
The story is cleverly constructed, nicely done and pretty straightforward. It starts slowly at first never giving out the obvious or any hints of what to come. This gentle pace is kept till we read the last words. The narrative is clean and the dialogue is what drives the drama. There are some amusing passages, obsession regarding lack of fast food available in Iceland, especially pizza. Fans of this series will notice that this visit to the past reveals a more cheerful version of the older Erlendur and gives us a new insight into his character and what makes him tick. We get to meet some characters that will play prominent roles in his later life and some insignificant ones that will simply disappear to never be heard of.
In “Reykjavik Nights” the first into Erlendur’s earlier days will not leave us wondering. A sequence “Oblivion” should be released sometime in 2015 for the English audience and in this one we should expect our beloved Erlendur to be promoted detective. Never kill a good series, the authors will always find ways to keep them alive and entertaining.
“Reykjavik Nights” is a great addition to a terrific series.