When a lone septuagenarian is murdered in his apartment in the Nordurmari district of Reykjavik, detective inspector Erlendur Sveinsson is called in, along with partner Sigurdur Oli and female colleague Elinborg. Everyone is related to everyone else in Iceland and refer to one another by first name, even formally. Erlendur is about 50, long divorced, with two kids in varying degrees of drug addiction. The victim, a man called Holberg, turns out to have been a nasty piece of work, and Erlendur is disgusted by the series of rapes Holberg apparently committed. The rapes and the deaths of a number of young women may be connected, and the search brings Erlendur to the forensic lab, whose old "jar city," since disbanded, held research organs. Meanwhile, Erlendur's daughter, Eva Lind, is pregnant and still using; she flits in and out of his life angrily, but may be crying out for help. Reykjavik's physicality, and the fact that crimes are relatively rare in Iceland, gives things a defamiliarizing cast. The writing, plot and resolution are nicely done, but remain fully within genre boundaries. (Oct. 11) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
An Icelandic detective investigates a murder with roots in the distant past. When veteran Reykjavik police inspector Erlendur Sveinsson is called to a squalid basement flat to examine the corpse of an elderly man named Holberg, bludgeoned to death with a large ashtray, he finds on the scene a typed note with the cryptic message, "I am HIM." Murder in Iceland is rare, and Erlendur is just coordinating his probe when two other crimes demand his attention: the assault of geriatric twin sisters in their home and the disappearance of a bride shortly after her wedding. The divorced Erlendur must also struggle to get his combative, punked-out daughter Eva Lind away from her drug-drenched nightlife. The news that Holberg was arrested for rape 30 years ago sends Erlendur on a difficult search among old records and hostile, forgetful witnesses. The sexist cop who caught the original rape case insulted the victim and allowed Holberg to walk. Erlendur's colleagues Sigurdur and El'nberg are annoyed at the drudgery involved in this effort, but eventually the team finds other victims of Holberg who hold the key to the killing. And Erlendur's relationship with Eva takes a significant step forward when she helps crack the case of the runaway bride. The author's American debut, winner of the 2002 Nordic Crime Novel Award, is a model puzzle presented with clarity and crisp economy.
“A fascinating window on an unfamiliar world as well as an original and puzzling mystery.”
“A chilling read.”
“A chilling Icelandic saga of the DNA age. This careful, sparsely-written book operates at a deeper level than most crime fiction.”
"Highly recommended... thoroughly gripping... impressively moving."