Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

HypothermiaHypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason. Translated by Victoria Cribb. Original title Harðskafi (2007). Harvill Secker, 2009. 314 pages. ISBN 978-1-846-55262-5

This is the sixth instalment featuring Detective Erlandur published in English, although it is actually the eight in the series and it can be read as a stand alone book. The first two books have not been translated yet.

This is also the fourth book I read out of the six books shortlisted for the 2010 CWA International Dagger Award.

Hypothermia opens with what seems, at first sight, a straightforward case of suicide. A woman is found hanging from a beam in her summer cottage by Lake Thingvallavatn. Maria, the woman, had never recovered from the loss of her mother two years earlier and had a history of depression. But when Karen, the friend who found her body, gives Erlendur a tape of a séance that Maria attended, it casts some doubts about her tragic ending and Erlendur engages into a private investigation due to lack of evidence.

At the same time, Erlendur takes up two missing-person cases shelved long time ago. One concerns a young man that walked out of his parents’ house in 1976 and had never been heard from again. The other one involves a young girl, but it was impossible to tell exactly when she disappeared. Inevitably they both raise ghosts from Erlendur’s own past. His young brother disappeared during a blizzard a long time ago.

Although this book has a relatively simple plot it is superbly constructed and it is full of layers as indicated by Maxine at Euro Crime.  It is sad story, but in spite of its sadness it is not depressing as pointed out by Bernadette at Reactions to Reading. I find it very difficult to explain why I like this book so much. Maybe because this is a book about sentiments and emotions. Sentiments and emotions are always very difficult to explain. All in all a fascinating book that makes a fascinating read. For me it is a very strong candidate to win the CWA International Dagger Award this year and, without question, one of the best books that I have also read this year. Indispensable. A must read.

Arnaldur’s books have been published in 26 countries and have been translated into German, Danish, English, Italian, Czech, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, Finnish, Spanish, Portuguese and French. Arnaldur received the Glass Key award, a literature prize for the best Nordic crime novel, in 2002 and 2003. He won the CWA Gold Dagger Award in 2005 for the novel Silence of the Grave and Arctic Chill was shortlisted last year for the CWA International Dagger. He has published ten books so far in his Detective Erlendur series:

Synir duftsins, 1997 (Sons of Dust)
Dauðarósir, 1998 (Silent Kill)
Mýrin, 2000 (Tainted Blood, aka Jar City, 2004)
Grafarþögn, 2001 (Silence of the Grave, 2005)
Röddin, 2003 (Voices, 2006)
Kleifarvatn, 2004 (The Draining Lake, 2007)
Vetrarborgin, 2005 (Arctic Chill, 2008)
Harðskafi, 2007 (Hypothermia, 2009)
Myrká, 2008
Svörtuloft, 2009

See also reviews by Crime Scraps, Reactions to Reading, Maxine at Euro Crime, Mysteries in Paradise, International Noir Fiction, Irresistible Targets, Reviewing the Evidence.

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