Arctic Chill: A Thriller (Reykjavik Thriller)
by Arnaldur Indridason
Translated by Bernard Scudder & Victoria Cribb;
Review by Mel Jacob
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312381035
Date: 15 September 2009 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Dark and cold as an Icelandic winter, Indriđason's Arctic Chill features Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson of the Reykjavik Police. When a young half-Thai boy is found dead, Erlendur and his colleagues swing into action. They interview neighbors and relatives. The boy's older brother, Niran, cannot be found. Erlendur and the mother fear for his safety.
The narrative switches between the investigation and Erlendur's private musings. As a child, he and his younger brother became separated during a blizzard. Later, rescuers find Erlendur, but discover no trace of the brother. Guilt has haunted Erlendur his entire life. His daughter, Eva Lind, long estranged from him, wants to discuss a dream she had about him. His mother sometimes had foretelling dreams and he avoids Eva.
Despite the designation "thriller", the novel proceeds at a leisurely pace as the police compile a list of potential suspects and seek evidence. Erlendur remains preoccupied with another case, a missing woman. Mysterious phone calls raise hopes she might be alive.
Other events also intrude including the death of his mentor and former boss, Marion Briem. Andrès, a drug addict and possessor of child pornography, mentions a man with similar interests who recently moved into the neighborhood. His hesitation and words lead Erlendur to believe the man might have abused Andrès. Erlendur also discovers how little he knows about his close colleagues.
Among the themes explored are lifelong guilt, the relationship between brothers, the problems of assimilating immigrants, and prejudice. Some may find the Icelandic names strange while others will enjoy the unique setting. An award winning author, Indriđason's Silence of the Grave won the Crime Writers' Association 2005 Gold Dagger award. Minotaur plans to release more of his novels in the future.