Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Review of Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indridason (Harvill Secker, 2014)
Reykjavik Nights is a prequel to the popular Inspector Erlendur stories, set not long after he starts to work for the police. Already obsessed with missing persons or the lives of those that drop out of ordinary society, he is drawn to the cases of a homeless man found drown and a local woman who has vanished. Despite having no mandate to investigate either case, Erlendur patiently seeks answers. Given his lack of experience he is somewhat naïve and hesitant, feeling his way by instinct. As with the other books in the series, Reykjavik Nights is as much about Erlendur and Icelandic society as it is the cases. Indeed, the cases are quite mundane and straightforward but what makes them interesting is Erlendur’s attempt to tackle them. Oddly, that in itself is quite mundane with few tension points, but Indridason somehow makes its engaging. I think this is do with an evenly paced plot and the cadence of the prose – one is soon caught in a steady moving stream with pleasant scenery, with a few eddies but no rapids or waterfalls. The result is an enjoyable police procedural with an inevitable but satisfying conclusion.