Insp. Sigurdur Óli takes center stage in Indridason’s solid eighth Inspector Erlendur novel (after 2012’s Outrage), providing all the Nordic bleakness and moral ambiguity of Reykjavik police colleague Erlendur Sveinsson, with a trace of stolid conservatism added to sour the mix. Sigurdur Óli’s great talent is to doggedly follow a trail, even at the expense of the relationships in his life and his own ethics. When someone fatally bludgeons Lína Thorgrímsdóttir with a baseball bat in her apartment, Lína, like most Indridason victims, turns out to be far from innocent; she has tried to blackmail friends of Sigurdur Óli with photos of group sex. Meanwhile, a Reykjavik bum with a shattered and nearly incoherent personality tries to tell the inspector about a terrible crime. Indridason may be guilty of gratuitous characterization in a search for nuance, but the pathos is often moving, and Sigurdur Óli proves a worthy detective, if not so great a human being. (Sept.)
Indridason's usual main character, Inspector Erlendur, is away, so his colleague Sigurdur Óli is running the show. A best friend asks Óli to help someone who is being blackmailed. Óli agrees to assist—but as a favor and not as a police matter. It quickly becomes a criminal case, however, as Óli walks in seconds after a vicious attack on the blackmailer. His police cohorts wonder why Óli was there, yet he convinces them that he should continue working on what has now become a murder case. He unravels a trail that involves Icelandic politics and banking prior to the financial crash that devastated the country's economy. Another case, involving a disturbing kidnapping, is also being investigated. VERDICT Óli is an intricate character plodding through life and his cases. He's an average guy, someone whom the reader can identify with, and will become a favorite. Readers who enjoy Henning Mankell and Ian Rankin will be intrigued by this character. Although this is the eighth novel (after Outrage) in this series, it's fine for newcomers to start here. [Library marketing.]—Frances Thorsen, Chronicles of Crime Bookshop, Victoria, BC
No good deed goes unpunished, and sometimes they entangle you in murder. Reykjavík detective Sigurdur Óli agrees reluctantly to help Hermann, a colleague of his old friend Patrekur and a victim of blackmail. Hermann and his wife, an aspiring politician, have until recently been swingers. Lína and Ebbi, another participating couple in their group, have filmed them and now demand money. Sigurdur agrees to talk to them sternly but regrets his decision almost immediately. Having recently split from his wife, Bergthóra, he's often out of sorts and preoccupied. His boss and mentor, Erlendur (Outrage, 2012, etc.), is still away on an unspecified leave of absence, and Sigurdur finds himself tangling regularly with his abrasive colleague Finnur. Visiting the home of the blackmailers, Sigurdur interrupts a masked intruder beating Lína. He chases the man for blocks but can't catch him. Lína is taken to the hospital, where she lingers for days before passing away. With virtually no leads, Sigurdur returns to Hermann and Patrekur in a fruitless attempt to gain traction as Finnur relentlessly needles him. Also in the mix is Andrés, a disturbed young man whose past involves scarring abuse at the hands of his stepfather and whose stream-of-consciousness chapters alternate with the main narrative. Ironically, Sigurdur also finds a need to revisit his parents for answers. Dogged police work leads inevitably to a surprising ripped-from-the-headlines solution. Series fans may miss the soulful, empathetic Erlendur, but Sigurdur, who could be a younger version of his boss, is at the center of a sophisticated and complex thriller.