Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason
I’ve seen vacation pictures from friends who have traveled to Iceland and it’s a gorgeous place. They were also there during the “warm” months. The winters are cold and bleak, and so is their mystery fiction. Icelandic mysteries make Swedish ones seem warm and fuzzy in comparison.
In this one Inspector Erlandur is investigating the stabbing death of a ten-year old boy while still attempting to discover what happened to a woman who went missing weeks before. Two factors struck me as particularly Icelandic in this book. First, racism and immigration is seen as a threat by some Icelanders to the Icelandic heritage and culture which has been preserved, well, forever basically. It was different to see the issue of “us and them” presented as one of cultural corruption. Secondly, in the case of the missing woman, things like that happen all the time and it’s not anything the people are particularly concerned about. People seem to wander off to die on a semi-regular basis. Suicides are high, and suicide by the elements seems to be a uniquely Icelandic.
This is a well-plotted, though bleak, view of a country, and people, but the humanness of all the characters comes through on the page. Not everything in life happens for a reason, or for a good reason, and the author brings this fatalism to light in his writing.