Tuesday, May 05, 2009

JOHN CHUCKMAN REVIEW OF ARNALDUR INDRIDASON'S ARCTIC CHILL

I am not a traditionally a reader of mysteries, but since my wife introduced me to selected writers, there are a few to whose new books I quite look forward.

Scandinavian writers of this genre appeal a great deal. After all, part of what we get from any novel is being taken into a world we do not know, and the place and people names of Scandinavia are exotic and fascinating. Also, there is a great touch of humanity in the stories coming from Scandinavian writers, quite in distinction to some well-known, hard-boiled American writers whose fiction I find almost unreadable.

Norway's Karin Fossum is chief among the Scandinavians, being a writer and storyteller of top quality, but I enjoy Iceland's Arnaldur Indridason too. His first books were not in the same class with Fossum's, but with Arctic Chill, he rises to a new level of quality. This is fine and gripping book, an interesting tale with many twists and turns.

Indridason weaves several plots together here and manages them with great skill. The two criminal cases - a murder and a separate missing person - actually nicely reinforce each other and are used to introduce some interesting complexities.

Indridason is always a clear writer, but this book introduces a new level of sophistication in his storytelling. We still have his intelligent, very human, and sympathic detective, Erlendur, a man with whom we feel it might be nice to spend some time discussing the human condition. We still have the wonderfully forbidding weather and brooding landscape of Iceland as major characters.

This is a book you will not want to put down. Highly recommended.

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