18 July 2014

Review: STRANGE SHORES, Arnaldur Indridason

  • first published in Icelandic in 2010
  • translated in English by Victoria Cribb 2013
  • ISBN 978-1-846-55711-8
  • 296 pages
  • #9 in the Erlendur series
Synopsis (Random House)

A young woman walks into the frozen fjords of Iceland, never to be seen again. But Matthildur leaves in her wake rumours of lies, betrayal and revenge.

Decades later, somewhere in the same wilderness, Detective Erlendur is on the hunt. He is looking for Matthildur but also for a long-lost brother, whose disappearance in a snow-storm when they were children has coloured his entire life. He is looking for answers.

Slowly, the past begins to surrender its secrets. But as Erlendur uncovers a story about the limits of human endurance, he realises that many people would prefer their crimes to stay buried.

My Take

I remember well reading the first novel by this author, JAR CITY (aka TAINTED BLOOD), first published in English in 2004, and I've been a follower ever since.

Some reviewers are saying this is his best ever. I'm not sure I would go that far, but it is certainly memorable. Detective Elendur has been haunted all of his life by the loss of his 8 year old brother in a snow storm, when he himself was only twelve, and by the impression that he was somehow at fault. Beggi's body was never found despite an extensive search. At times Erlendur relives that time when he was waiting in the cold snow for someone to find him, and he realised that he was no longer holding Beggi's hand.

The story of the disappearance of Matthildur during a similar snow storm is one that Erlendur seems to have known all of his life. He is on holidays in the area that he grew up in, and takes the opportunity to try to find out what people remember about Matthildur's disappearance. At the time some people didn't voice their suspicions and there were some who knew the truth.

Although this is not an official police investigation Erlendur puts a lot of energy into it and eventually solves the puzzle. But can justice be done?

This is an excellent read. Indridason leads the reader through layers of investigation, so that eventually we understand for ourselves what happened to Matthildur, and Elendur is able to come to terms with his role in Beggi's disappearance.

My rating: 4.6

Elendur has actually been missing from the most recent novels in the series: BLACK SKIES and  OUTRAGE, and it seems that STRANGE SHORES will actually be his final appearance - apart from the fact that REYKJAVIK NIGHTS published in 2014 is actually a prequel to the series. The first two novels in the series published in 1997 and 1998 have never been translated into English. There also appears to another novel in the Erlendur series, published in Icelandic in 2011, Einvígið, that has never made it into English.

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1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Excellent review as ever, Kerrie. I do have to say I wish more the Erlendur series would be translated. And I do wonder if there will ever be another..


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