6 October 2011

Review: OUTRAGE, Arnaldur Indridason

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 411 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307359417
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (June 23, 2011)
    Translated from Icelandic by Anna Yates
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0051UTRLM
  • Source: I bought it
Product description (Amazon)

In a flat near Reykjavík city centre, a young man lies dead in a pool of blood. There is no sign of a break-in: the only clues are a woman’s purple shawl, found under the bed in the next room, and a vial of prescription drugs in the victim´s pocket.
With Detective Erlendur away in a remote part of Iceland, Detective Elínborg, who is already struggling to juggle family life and the relentless demands of her job, is assigned the case. Her investigation into the murdered man’s past soon uncovers a squalid tale of double lives, drug dealers and the unsolved disappearance of a young girl many years before.
From its explosive opening, Outrage leads down a trail of hidden violence, psychological brutality and of wrongs that will never be fully righted.

My take:

Although OUTRAGE is the 7th title in the Erlendur series to be translated  into English it could quite easily be read initially as a stand alone. Hopefully the reader will enjoy this one enough to track down some of the earlier titles.

I've referred to the books as the Erlendur series because the novels usually focus on a rather grumpy old-fashioned detective by that name. In OUTRAGE though he has recently wound up a very  demanding case and has taken an unscheduled leave. Not even those closest to him know where he has gone.

So when the dead body in the flat in the fashionable Thingholt district is called in, Detective Elinborg is on duty and she calls the team to the crime scene. We, the readers, have met Elinborg in earlier novels, and know her as hard working, meticulous, conscientious. OUTRAGE gives us a chance to get better acquainted with her. Elinborg tries to keep her home life and her work life separate, refuses to discuss the cases she is working on with her husband and children, but this does result in a form of alienation between her and her eldest son. Elinborg works incredibly long hours and leaves much of the home management of their three children to her husband Teddi who is a mechanic.

What we learn from this novel is that sometimes people, particularly women, will talk to Elinborg particularly because she is a woman. This particular case involves a man who uses a date rape drug on his victims and when they learn this it colours women's attitudes to giving information.

Indridason uses an interesting hook for this novel. In the opening chapter Runolfur, the murder victim, is off to a bar with the Rohypnol in his pocket. He picks up a woman to take back to his flat. Later he is found dead on the floor of his flat, his throat cut, wearing the t-shirt we last saw on his female victim. It sent me scurrying off to read the first part of the chapter again. And of course we now want to know what happened.

I didn't feel OUTRAGE had the flair of earlier novels in the series, but is nevertheless still a very acceptable police procedural. It does also explore a number of contemporary issues: the pain that occurs when children leave home, the growing urbanisation of Iceland and the social dislocation that can occur, and how life in Iceland has changed in the last part of the twentieth century.

My rating: 4.6

Other reviews
Indridason titles on this blog
ARCTIC CHILL
5.0, HYPOTHERMIA
4.5, OPERATION NAPOLEON

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this terrific review. I like the Erlendur series very much, and Elinborg is a good character, so it's nice that she takes "center stage" here. Thanks for the reminder of a fine series :-)

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