Cold Cases in a Cold Climate
The nine crime novels in the Inspector Erlendur Mystery/ Thriller Books series are dark cold-case police procedurals with roots deep in painful past tragedies, the kind of sorrowful personal histories that the hero, Inspector Erlendur of the Reykjavik, Iceland Police, is trying to escape in his own life.
Nordic police procedurals ratchet up the psychological suspense. Great writing
What every mystery should be. Great stories. Author Indridason keeps me riveted on every page. He is an all-round excellent writer, with a gift for plot and physical description: Erlendur's Iceland comes to life before your eyes because of the exceptionally vivid writing.
Start anywhere. Read 'em all. Jar City (#1) is one of the all-time great launches to a series. Note that Erlendur is offstage in Outrage (#7) and the wonderful female cop Elinborg is the book's lead character. Strange Shores (#9) works well as a stand-alone novel.
Below, the crime novels in chronological order:
Jar City (2004, Inspector Erlendur Mystery/ Thriller Books #1) A pensioner with a brutal past is murdered in his basement flat. Two clues--a cryptic note and a photo of a grave--start an investigation that ends up shaking the family tree of the whole country. A long-dead skeleton slowly reveals horrific family secrets while Erlendur struggles to save his own shattered family. Voices (2006, Inspector Erlendur Mystery/ Thriller Books #3) When Santa is murdered in a Reykjavik hotel, Erlendur moves into the inn for a not-so-merry Christmas. After an earthquake, the water in a lake suddenly drains away, revealing the lake bed--including a skeleton chained to an old military radio transmitter. Arctic Chill (2005, Inspector Erlendur Mystery/ Thriller Books #5) While investigating the murder of a young boy, Erlendur suffers from his tortured relationship with his own children. Hypothermia (2009, Inspector Erlendur Mystery/ Thriller Books #6) A cold-case forces Erlendur to face his own troubled past. Outrage (2011, Inspector Erlendur Mystery/ Thriller Books #7) Can Elinborg and the team find a serial rapist before he strikes again--without leadership from Erlendur who has gone missing. Black Skies (2012, Inspector Erlendur Mystery/ Thriller Books #8) With Erlendur still missing in action, Sigurdur Oli leads the investigation and struggles with his failed relationship. Erlendur is back, searching in the wilderness for a woman who has been missing 20 years--and for his own brother, lost in a snowstorm when both boys were small. (Unusually for this series, this book is not a police procedural.)
Iceland Through Erlendur's Eyes
Inspector Erlendur's Iceland is a bleak place, populated by drug addicts, violent felons, sexual predators and thugs and Erlendur is a gloomy, introspective fellow whose past is catching up with him. Ghosts from his hard childhood haunt his dreams. His troubled, drug-addicted children disrupt his days, hitting him up for money and berating him for deserting them when they were young.
Erlendur's colleagues don't understand him. His bosses don't like him. But when it comes to murder investigations, they all follow him because he is usually right.
Erlendur's team provides a welcome connection to a world distinctly less bleak than Erlendur's own. Elinborg, one of my favorite female cops, is an empathetic, persistent investigator by day and a devoted mother and published cookbook author by night. Sigurdur Oli is the CID's American-trained yuppie and a thoroughly modern man. Marion Bream, Erlendur's mentor, is a strange, sometimes sinister presence who lurks in the background.