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Sunday 11 December 2016

‘Reykjavik Nights’ By Arnaldur Indridason

Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb
Published by Picador,
11 October 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-250-11142-5 (PB)

From the publisher:  In this stunning prequel to his critically acclaimed Inspector Erlendur books and the tenth volume in the series, Erlendur is a young and inexperienced detective walking beat on the streets in Reykjavik, encountering routine traffic accidents, theft, domestic violence, contraband - - and an unexplained death.  When a tramp he met regularly on the night shift is found drowned in a ditch, no one seems to car.  But his fate haunts Erlendur and drags him inexorably into the strange and dark underworld of his.

Erlendur knew that in the year that had elapsed since the man, whose name was Hannibal, drowned Reykjavik CID had uncovered no evidence of suspicious circumstances.  Yet he was also aware that the death of a homeless man had not been high priority.”  At around the same time as the death of the tramp, a 19-year-old girl goes missing.  And not long before that a young woman who had gone out for a few drinks with friends had disappeared and never been found either.  “Stories of people going missing held a particular fascination for Erlendur . . . The missing left a series of unanswered questions behind them. . . No one else was asking questions about this man who had drowned like a stray dog.”  And so he goes on his own investigation into these particular disappearances.  “The more details Erlendur uncovered about Hannibal’s case, the more his curiosity grew.”  Now 28 years old, he finds himself “wondering if his decision to join the police had been precipitated by his fascination with stories like theirs. . . This fixation of his with disappearances - - with the phenomenon itself, the fates of those who were never heard of again and the sufferings of those left behind to mourn.”

The title derives from Erlendur’s musings about Reykjavik nights, “so strangely sunny and bright, yet in another sense so dark and desperate.”  And his investigation leads to unexpected lines of inquiry, at one point tying into one of the other “disappearances.”  There is a large cast of characters, all very well drawn.  We are given a window into the path Erlendur’s career with the police will take, as at the end of the book the results of his unsanctioned investigations so impress the top brass that he is invited by his superior to “get in touch if you’re interested in doing more of this kind of sleuthing.”  And he thinks “how good it would be to shed his uniform.”  Especially so since for the first time he is thinking of settling down with Halldora, his “significant other.”  Wonderfully well-written, and a definite sign of what is to come from this author, the novel is highly recommended.
Reviewer: Gloria Feit

Arnaldur Indridason was born in 1961, the son of an Icelandic author. He worked for many years as a journalist and critic for an Icelandic newspaper, before he began writing novels. He is best known for his crime novels featuring Erlendur and Sigurdur Óli, which are consistent bestsellers across Europe. The series has won numerous awards, including the Nordic Glass Key and the CWA Gold Dagger.  At one week in the summer of 2003, his crime novels occupied the top five spots in the Icelandic bestseller list.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

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