19 February 2011

Review: OPERATION NAPOLEON, Arnaldur Indridason

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 711 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: CCV Digital (October 7, 2010)
  • Source: I bought it.
First published with the title Napóleonsskjölin by Vaka Helgafell, Reykjavík in 1999
English translation copyright © Victoria Cribb 2010

1945: a German bomber flies over Iceland in a blizzard; the crew have lost their way and eventually crash on the Vatnajökull glacier, the largest in Europe. Inexplicably, there are both German and American officers on board. One of the senior German officers claims that their best chance of survival is to try to walk to the nearest farm and sets off, a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. He soon disappears into the white vastness.
1999, mid-winter, and the US Army is secretively trying to remove an aeroplane from the Vatnajökull glacier. By coincidence two young Icelanders become involved – but will pay with their lives. Before they are captured, one of the two contacts his sister, Kristin, who will not rest until she discovers the truth of her brother’s fate. Her pursuit puts her in great danger, leading her on a long and hazardous journey in search of the key to the riddle about Operation Napoleon.

My take:
I didn't enjoy this as much as Indridason's Erlendur novels. I kept wondering if Erlendur would make even a cameo appearance. There was a detective (There have been some funny goings on here,’ observed the scruffily dressed detective in his early fifties ) but his appearances really came to nothing.

OPERATION NAPOLEON reminded me of thrillers that I used to read back in the 70s by writers like Jeffrey Jenkins, Alistair MacLean and Clive Cussler. The difference between those and OPERATION NAPOLEON is the character of Kristin. Those earlier thrillers rarely had capable women.
It reminded me also of another novel I reviewed: THE MASK OF ATREUS by A.J. Hartley, mainly I think because of the idea of a secret cargo.

One interesting element was the discussion of Icelandic dependency on US funding and assistance.
Kristin is talking about why her friendship with the American Steve collapsed:
    It’s partly political. I oppose the presence of the American army on Midnesheidi. I could understand its strategic significance during the Cold War, but that didn’t mean I agreed with its presence. I’ve always regarded it as a blot on the landscape. It’s as simple as that. The Icelanders shouldn’t have an army and they certainly shouldn’t get into bed with one. Far too many people have prostituted themselves to the Defense Force already – businessmen, particularly. I should never have allowed things to go so far between us but . . .’
My rating: 4.5

My other Indridason reviews on MiP

Other reviews to check
EuroCrime review by Maxine
Review on From the Blue House by Rob Kitchin

I am listing this book in the e-book challenge and Nordic Challenge 2011

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this review. That really is an interesting perspective on international dependency and international relations. I like it when those bigger questions are treated on a personal level.


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