Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

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Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It's Erlendur this time, without much input from Sigurdur Oli, but still an intriguing tale which will keep you guessing to the end.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: October 2010
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 978-0099532279

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Maria's body was found by her friend Karen. It was hanging from the rafters of her holiday home at Lake Thingvallavatn and when Detective Erlendur arrived it seemed like a straightforward case of suicide. Maria had been in a poor mental state since the death of her mother two years previously and there was a history of depression. It wasn't until Karen approached Erlendur with a recording of a séance which Maria had attended shortly before her death that his curiosity was aroused. There was no great pressure at work and he had the time to indulge himself, so he looked further into the case along with the unsolved disappearances thirty years earlier of two unconnected people.

Grief can persist – and it certainly did for Maria. She and her mother had been very close, particularly so since the death of her father in a boating accident and Maria was convinced that her mother would contact her from beyond the grave to give her a sign that there was a life after death. It became something of an obsession with her and it wasn't difficult to see that in the depths of her grief she might have found death the best solution, the only hope of something better.

Over three decades an old man had regularly called on Erlendur asking if there was any news of his missing son, who had disappeared without trace one night. This visit seemed likely to be his last as he had a terminal illness and Erlendur decided to give one last push to the investigation to see if he could allow the father to die in peace. There was a personal connection in all this: Erlendur and his brother were lost in a blizzard as children and only Erlendur returned. His brother's body had never been found and Erlendur understood the feeling of loss: periodically he was drawn back to the hills to search for him.

Read the book and you'll long to go to Iceland. The landscape is harsh and brutal, but still beautiful and Indridason captures this perfectly. It's what makes the people who they are. Grief though is universal and he paints its pernicious persistence beautifully; the grasping at straws, the feeling of pointlessness and the way that logic disappears in the face of any faint hope.

There's a creepiness to the story. Part is the Icelandic setting and the time of year, but most of it is down to the story which is strikingly original – for large parts of the story I simply couldn't see how it could be resolved, but of course, it is and in startling fashion. It's one of those rare books which will improve with a second reading – the one where you spot the clues and work out how it was done.

The book is translated by Victoria Cribb and she produces a lyrical text which was a pleasure to read.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals you might like to read an earlier book in the series which we enjoyed. 'Tainted Blood' is now published as Jar City.

Buy Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason at Amazon.com.

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