Mystery review: Myrká by Arnaldur Indriðason

I wasn’t sure if I should post this review right away, considering that the book will probably not be published in English until 2010, but then I though “why not?” It just means the review will be there for those who want to know something about the book beforehand. Unfortunately I do not have an English title for it, but I will post it once I know what it will be.

Added April 7, 2011: The English title is Outrage, and it is due out in June of this year.

Genre: Police procedural
Year of publication: 2008
No. in series: 9
Series detective: Detective Erlendur Sveinsson and colleagues, of the Reykjavík detective force
Type of investigator: Police
Setting & time: Reykjavík, Iceland; contemporary

Erlendur, the leading investigator in the previous books, is away on vacation, and the detective in this book is his colleague Elínborg. She is called in on a murder case involving a young man found with his throat cut and some Rohypnol tablets in his pocket. Was the man a drug rapist or were the pills planted on him? Did he rape someone the night he was killed and did she kill him in retaliation? Was there a third person involved? Elínborg needs to find answers to these and several other questions before she can solve what proves to be a complicated case.

As is usual in Arnaldur’s books, the mystery element in this story is excellent. There are twists and turns, meticulous gathering of evidence and questioning of a collection of interesting characters, most of whom have things to hide. However, one thing mars this story – something I have commented on about some of the earlier books in the series: too much background information.
In the previous stories, Arnaldur would sometimes summarise events in Erlendur’s family life from the previous books in overly long paragraphs. Here he is using Elínborg as the lead detective for the first time, and obviously he felt he needed to give her some back-story. The problem is that the back-story is too detailed and long-winded and does not have any bearing on the mystery or how she solves it, apart from her interest in Indian food, which helps her find an important witness. I got the feeling that Arnaldur was possibly building something up for the next book in the series, but even so it was clumsily done and boring to a degree.

Rating: A good mystery that gets bogged down in background detail. 3 stars.


Anonymous said…
Even so, I'm very much looking forward to the English translation.
Anonymous said…
I always thought the icelandic title was svörtuloft?!!!!
Bibliophile said…
Anon, Svörtuloft is the title of another book by Arnaldur, one that was published in 2009. I haven't reviewed it yet. That one happens more or less concomitantly with this one and the leading detective is Sigurdur Oli.
George said…
The U.S. has embraced "Nordic Noir" with the Henning Mankell novels and the Steig Larsson trilogy. This book will find an audience here.

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