Sunday, 15 December 2013


by Arnaldur Indridason
368 pages - 19.95 $
Vintage Books (11 janvier 2010)

I thought I got a good deal by buying this book in a bookstore ... and indeed it was the case: I have not really enjoyed this book but the price was downright cheap!

The blurb

The third novel in the award-winning Reykjavik Murder Mysteries.

The Christmas rush is under way in a big Reykjavik hotel when the police are called to the scene of a murder. The hotel doorman (and long-time resident of its basement) has been stabbed to death. With the hotel fully booked, the manager is desperate to keep the murder under wraps and his reputation intact.

Detectives Erlendur and Sigurdur Oli discover that the dead man had had a childhood brush with fame and that two old 45s on which he had sung have become prized collectors’ items. Estranged from his family for decades, why had the man continued to pay secret visits to his boyhood home?

As Detective Elinborg investigates a separate case of child abuse, and Erlendur continues to struggle both with his troubled family relationships and the ghosts of his own youth, their parallel stories probe deeper into the riddle of this latest Reykjavik Murder Mystery.

What I think of it 

We meet back with Erlendur and his team, even if Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg only do a few quick appearances where they merely provide the latest news and invite Erlendur to spend Christmas with them, because they do not understand why he stays at the hotel. The Captain couldn't be more depressed as he recalls childhood memories about the disappearance of his brother. So, admittedly, it's interesting to know a little more about this episode in his life that still mark him but I confess that I don't appreciate too much rehash of a sad story on several books. To add to the gaiety of the book, his daughter regularly comes to see her father in the hotel and she's also more depressed than ever...

Some people think this novel is the quintessential noir... But noir fiction is characterized by a pessimistic and often violent vision of society, not a hero über depressed who spends part of the investigation lying on his bed in his unheated room rethinking an event that happened when he was 10 years old...

Apart from that, the atmosphere is as cold as wished for a Nordic polar, the tourists wearing big Icelandic sweaters are quite ridiculous and all the suspects tell lies. Speaking of lies, I often wondered why Erlendur let go some suspects without having questioned them further when he himself hesitated to do so... but it must be said that if he had do it, the investigation would have been solved at about half the book!

The other problem for me is that there are three parallel stories: an ongoing investigation, a trial for an old investigation and the disappearance of the brother of the Captain. These three stories overlap constantly as flashbacks and I often found it annoying because it added nothing to the ongoing investigation.

In a nutshell

It's not that the story is bad but reading the book, it feels like watching an episode of Derrick and I can't say I loved this series... I give it a 2/5.

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