Mysteries by Scandinavian authors are very popular. Reykjavik Nights is a prequel to a series by Arnaldur Indridason featuring his detective Erlendur when Erlendur was still just a street cop and not yet a detective. I have not read any of the other books in the Erlendur series so I can’t comment on how this fits in the storyline, but it seemed like a good place to start.
Two different cases in the Icelandic city of Reykjavik have gone cold and are written off as accidental. Erlendur knew Hannibal, the homeless man who was found drowned in a peat bog. Hannibal had his problems but Erlendur isn’t 100% convinced that he would have drowned this way, even if he had been drinking. And when Hannibal’s sister asks Erlendur to look into this, he does (on his own time).
About the same time, a woman from a very different social circle goes missing on her way home from a club. She’s assumed drowned. There is no reason to connect these two incidents, and no one does. Except for Erlendur, who slowly and methodically puts some pieces together to see a possible connection.
What we see in this book is a young cop, Erlendur, who cares. It would be easiest to write off the death and disappearance as accidents, just as most everyone else does. But Erlendur is still young and still an idealist. Perhaps he stays that way through the other books?
We see Erlendur come in contact with some of the criminal elements of Reykjavik and stand tough against it. His investigation (on his own time, it’s important to remember) helps bring down a large drug smuggling ring, but it’s a resolution to the death and disappearance that currently drives the young policeman.
The story and location (the location is a character here) is bleak, and the progression of the story is methodical (ie: slow), but it is interesting to take part in this by getting a direct POV through Erlendur’s eyes. He is persistent and has great intuition, which would appear to pay off given the popularity of this series.
Even with a ‘positive’ ending (can it be positive when there is death?) this book maintains a dark atmosphere, but Indriðason keeps us interested with his strong portrait of the idealist policeman Erlendur.
Looking for a good book? Reykjavik Nights is a steady, fascinating mystery set in the bleak, dark nights of Iceland with a cop destined for detective, written by Arnaldur Indriðason.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Reykjavík Nights: Murder in Reykjavík
author: Arnaldur Indriðason
translator: Victoria Cribb
publisher: Minotaur Books
hardcover, 304 pages