Monday, 8 April 2013

Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason

Ten-year old boy Elias is found stabbed to death near a block of flats near his home in Reykjavik. Elias is of mixed Thai and Icelandic origin. Is it the reason for what happened to the young boy? Is his killing related to the recent argument over immigration in his school? Or is his half-brother implicated? Is there some other unknown reason for killing? Is his death related to drug dealing in the school grounds? Detective Erlendur along with his team tackle this case.

I read Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason last year. While the mystery was very obvious, the book was quite haunting and Arnaldur creates quite a chilling atmosphere in Hypothermia.

As the dead boy is of mixed origin, Arnaldur takes on the issue of immigration in Iceland. We get arguments from all the sides. The anti-immigrant teacher, who vehemently hates immigrants and is quite vocal about it. The hardworking immigrant trying to make a decent life trying to stick to her language and facing problems learning a new language. The immigrant teenager who does not belong anywhere, who feels he is 'neither nor'. Neither an Icelander nor a Thai. The tolerant Icelander who does not mind immigrants and pro-immigrant Icelander who welcomes immigrants from his own personal experience. Yes! Yes! This is a crime novel but this is the major issue that it deals with. Erlendur meets all these arguments during his investigation. But this is not the only angle the investigation takes. Erlendur finds that there may be a paedophile residing in the area and not difficult to guess who. The case becomes complex when Sunee, Elias's mother doesn't trust the police and hides information and her other son. And there is the question of Sunee's elusive boyfriend. Is he somehow involved? Why didn't Erlendur impress on Sunee that she cannot hide important information?

Erlendur's back story of losing his brother in a blizzard is repetitive as I read all that in Hypothermia, though Hypothermia follows Arctic Chill and I never read books in order. Couldn't help wondering if his back story will feature in all his stories in detail. Arctic Chill is not as haunting or chilling like Hypothermia but here I couldn't guess the killer. Well, nobody could. I am looking forward to read other Reykjavik murder mysteries especially the one that won the CWA Gold Dagger. This one didn't win, the cover is misleading. This book is published in English in 2008 and translated from Icelandic by Bernard Scudder and Victoria Cribb.

This is my post for Letter A for Crime Fiction Alphabet 2013 and counts towards various challenges.


TracyK said...

I have not read any books by this author but have been planning to. Your review encourages me to do that. I like books that blend a mystery and social issues and I want to read more international books.

Also, I think I finally have to challenge my rule about reading series in order... or I am never going to get anywhere in my reading.

srivalli said...

I liked the Iceland setting. I am loving my scandinavian crime fiction, read, Nesbo, Fossum, Arnaldur, Sjowall & Wahloo, Mankell. I never read books in order. Thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

Bill Selnes said...

I have fallen behind in the series. Your post has encouraged me to try to catch up.

Clarissa Draper said...

Wow, what a cold setting and colder murder. The series looks interesting. I'll check it out. Thanks for the review.

Scott said...

Ahh something more to research.

srivalli said...

@ Bill, Clarissa and Scott, Thanks for stopping by!

Peter Reynard said...

I wonder what the roots of the Scandinavian mystery tradition are. There seem to be a number of them popular enough to have their works translated to English.
I rarely read books that blend mystery with other topics especially social issues. I'm not sure why but I think it is because my work involves a lot of thinking and when I read fiction, I'm looking to be entertained. I feel like I'm missing out on some interesting parts of the mystery canon though.

srivalli said...

I discovered Scandinavian mysteries only last year. While I love the humour and irony in Sjowall and Wahloo mysteries, I found Nesbo books are multilayered. There is something about the cold long winter of the Arctic!

Gilion Dumas said...

I was just reading about him yesterday and put a couple of his books on hold at my library.

Thanks for posting your helpful review on the European Reading Challenge page.

Rose City Reader