Tag Archives: Icelandic

Review of Arctic Chill, by Arnaldur Indriðason

I borrowed a copy of Arnaldur Indriðason‘s Arctic Chill from the Little Free Library. I was completely thrilled to see a book by an author whose name started with the letter I. I do an alphabet challenge every year and an ‘I’ author is one of the hardest to come up with.

Description from Goodreads:

The Reykjavik police are called on an icy January day to a garden where a body has been found: a young, dark-skinned boy is frozen to the ground in a pool of his own blood. Erlendur and his team embark on their investigation and soon unearth tensions simmering beneath the surface of Iceland’s outwardly liberal, multicultural society.

In this new extraordinary thriller from Gold Dagger Award winner Arnaldur Indridason, the Reykjavik police are called on an icy January day to a garden where a body has been found: a young, dark-skinned boy is frozen to the ground in a pool of his own blood. Erlendur and his team embark on their investigation and soon unearth tensions simmering beneath the surface of Iceland’s outwardly liberal, multicultural society. Meanwhile, the boy’s murder forces Erlendur to confront the tragedy in his own past. Soon, facts are emerging from the snow-filled darkness that are more chilling even than the Arctic night.

Review:

I thought this was interesting in some respects and a little dull in others. Being a book translated from Icelandic, reading the culture from an insider perspective was a treat. So was the atmosphere of the book, all bleak and cold like the environment. Similarly, I felt like (as an American reading an Icelandic book) this isn’t a book an American could write. Certainly we, as a people, struggle with some of the same issues brought up in the book. The immigration arguments could have shown up on any right-wing media outlet here, for example. But the fact that the investigation so quickly and strongly focused on the child’s race would never have passed muster in American fiction, I think. It addresses racism too starkly. Again, interesting.

But at the same time, the vast majority of this book is the detectives going around and asking various people the same questions and getting largely the same answers. It was slow going until a sudden break led to solving the case at the end. All in all, I’d read another Inspector Erlendur book, but I’m not rushing out to do it.