Outrage is the latest in the series of Icelandic crime novels that follow Reykjavik detective Erlendur. In this, the seventh novel, Erlendur's female colleague Elinborg leads an investigation into the brutal murder of a young man, who is found with date-rape drugs in his flat.
This book is typical of the other novels in the series, depicting the claustrophobic nature of life in Iceland, which is influenced by the landscape and the often bleak weather conditions. Unusually, Erlendur is not present in this story, having taken leave from his job after the events of the previous novel. Elinborg is normally a peripheral character in the series, but she carries this novel well, and it is interesting to find out more about her home life and family problems.
Indridason manages to infuse his novels with a deeper meaning, as both Erlendur and Elinborg question human nature and the meaning of life after the crimes they witness, although this doesn't weigh heavily on the story.
As with some of his other stories, there isn't an easy solution to the crime, and the story isn't tied up in a nice, satisfactory bow at the end. This novel presents something of a cliffhanger, as it raises concerns for Erlendur and just what he is doing on his time away from work. As always, I look forward to the next book in the series.
Set immediately after the previous novel Hypothermia, we find Elinborg taking the front seat in a date/rape murder investigation. Does it work with Erlendur taking a back seat, and the resounding answer is yes it does!
I would recommend that you read the other books in the sequence first, as with each novel we learn more about the man and his team, Outrage is the 7th novel in the series, the rest are as follows:
1. Jar City (orignally Tainted Blood), 2.Silence of the Grave, 3.Voices, 4.The Draining Lake,5.Arctic Chill, 6.Hypothermia. I really can't recommend him enough, and they do just keep improving with each novel.
Indridasson has produced another beautifully, crafted Icelandic gem of a crime novel. Over the series we discover more and more about Erlendur and his team, it's like peeling layers of wallpaper in a house and discovering it's hidden history, this is what you get when you read the Rekjavik murder series. Marvellous! What more can I say, apart from if you haven't tried Indridason, and you love Scandinavian crime fiction or just great writing read this, he's a must read author.
(3.5 stars) The cover description of this novel as "An Inspector Erlendur Novel" is misleading, since Erlendur, in fact, does not appear at all. At the end of Hypothermia, the previous novel in the Erlendur series, he has gone hiking in the sparsely populated East Fjords and no one has heard from him in almost two weeks. Elinborg, now in charge of the office, is quite different from Erlendur. Living with the supportive Teddi and their two children, Elinborg is a cookbook author, specializing in desserts and working on her second cookbook. Despite her family responsibilities, she is a fine investigator, often tracking down criminals who have been protected within the small, closed communities in which they have spent their lives.
The twisted and often macabre aspects of life seen in the book (and film) of Indridason's most famous Erlendur novel, Jar City, have been softened here, reflecting the more feminine, intuitive approach of Elinborg and her efforts to communicate wherever possible with both victims and perpetrators, as she works to solve crimes. As a result, this novel is more thoughtful, and, frankly, "tamer," than the acknowledged noir prize-winners of Jar City and Silence of the Grave, though Outrage, with its different style, has its own charms and will appeal to many newer readers.
Within the first dozen pages, Elinborg has already been called out to investigate a murder scene, a stabbing so bloody that the victim, a young, single man named Runolfur, is almost ex-sanguinated. Evidence in the apartment suggests that a woman shared his bed just before the murder. A shawl is found under the bed, and Elinborg, a chef, is intrigued by the fact that the shawl smells of tandoori, an Indian food rare in Iceland (not the kind of clue that Erlendur would ever notice). Surprisingly, the victim had ingested a large amount of rohypnol, and his connection to drug dealers is quickly determined. Old cases of rape using rohypnol are reopened, and information about this strange murder begins to come forth. The conclusion is typically "Elinborgian" - brought about not by physical action but by her ability to communicate with the murderer.
Though Indridason dots all the I's and crosses all the T's regarding this mystery, the novel ultimately feels more "domestic" than noir, more human and less grotesque than what one expects of an Erlendur mystery. Even the bitter cold which permeates the atmosphere of so many Erlendur novels feels somehow less cold here. Elinborg, a warmer, more caring soul, feels the pain of the victims and their families, and is able to show it in ways that Erlendur cannot, allowing her an entrée into their feelings and even their secrets. A couple of scenes feel hollow, however: One in which Elinborg is interviewing a rape victim gets a bit preachy and "over-explanatory" regarding the victim's reactions to the crime, and another, in which she talks with her daughter about the uninspired menus her mother used to serve the family adds nothing new to the story. Outrage, with Elinborg, is a unique creation by Indridason, and while it is interesting to see such a novel with a female protagonist, Elinborg's character lacks the both the charm and the powerful personality which would have made her an intriguing "heroine" for me.
Murder in Reykjavik acts as subtitle to the well-named Outrage, but it`s not the crime uppermost in the reader`s mind throughout this lengthy tale of date rape and murder set in both the capital and an outlying rural village where everyone knows everyone else`s business. The village is the birthplace of murder victim/probable rapist Runolfur (no spoiler, as these details are given at the start of the book) and its description - as a kind of snowbound ghost town - is one of the beauties of this novel by the Icelandic crime fiction supremo.
Instead of the usual Erlendur in the lead (he`s on holiday in a remote part of the country, his mobile left resolutely behind) this time the spotlight is very much on his colleague Elinborg, a mostly likeable woman who is valiantly trying, not always successfully, to juggle homelife with her blessedly placid husband and three demanding kids, including a teenage son you may find yourself wanting to slap, and her equally demanding professional schedule. The two rarely complement each other, and Indridason is good at showing her both at home and roaming the suburbs of the capital in her attempt to unravel the murky details of crimes which appear to be less clear the more she searches.
There is a palpable dip in inspiration - was the author having a bad day? - about 100 pages in (or was it just me?) where interest flags and certain details seem to be repeated to nobody`s advantage, and there`s no doubt the novel could have benefited from being edited down by at least thirty pages. Apart from that I was hooked, especially after the midway point, when life in the close-knit, gossipy village came more into focus, Elinborg`s visits there taking on an atmospheric suspense that went well alongside the urban ambience of the city.
The final pages have a slightly open-ended quality that is ultimately satisfying, and I was left pondering this dark, sometimes angry tale long after I`d closed the book, with the novel`s title taking on subtler meanings by the end too.
I hope Elinborg is featured more in later novels. I had only read the excellent, tightly focused Jar City, but Indridason is now one of Northern Europe`s most consistently intriguing crime writers, and I can`t wait to read the rest of his intelligent, chilly novels.
on 6 July 2011
A man is found murdered in a flat in Reykjavik wearing
a woman's T-shirt and with Rohypnol(the date-rape drug)
in his mouth and in his pocket.
The inward-looking,solitary Detective Erlendur has taken
himself off to the desolate East of Iceland,so instead ,we
have the female Detective Elinborg leading the investigations.
This brings a different perspective to other Indridason
novels. Elinborg is a likeable competent detective ,very
keen on cooking ,and with a difficult teenaged son.
There are no immediate leads to the killer ,so Elinborg
endeavours to piece together details of the victim's life,
both in Reykjavik and in a remote rural part of Iceland
where he grew up.
As the intriguing novel reaches its conclusion,we are
shown how the crime influences,in varying ways,many
people other than the victim and the perpetrator.
An enjoyable read.
"Outrage" is the seventh of Arnaldur Indriðason's series of 'Reykjavik Murder Mysteries' to be translated into English. First published in Icelandic in 2008, this 2011 English rendition is by Anna Yates, and provides a wonderfully idiomatic translation of the author's original sparse, almost minimalist prose. The original title, "Myrká" ("Blackout") is actually a much more subtle and suitable title for this tale of murder, date rape and the closed, self-policing, exclusionist attitudes of small, isolated communities.
This volume in the series marks a major departure from its predecessors by placing Detective Elínborg in the spotlight, with not only her colleague Sigurdur Óli noticeable for his absence throughout much of the book but also the laconic Inspector Erlendur missing as well. Erlendur's absence provides something of a shift in mood from the normal grey melancholia of this series and allows both author and reader to take a break from the perennial familial tensions and traumas which usually permeate these stories. It also allows us to get to know another of the characters in the series rather better than has been afforded to us before, which anyone who has worked through the series will almost certainly welcome.
Many may also find the change a discomforting shift from the series' norm -- does this signal an underlying new direction for these novels? -- even though the book's overall feel and flavour is undoubtedly in keeping with earlier volumes. Whatever the longer term implications, here the author takes the opportunity to explore in more detail than previously the nature of remote Icelandic communities and how they sit in the modern world -- a very welcome addition for those of us interested in more than just the tourist views of Iceland, which some Icelandic authors seem wont to dwell on. Some readers may find Elínborg to have been drawn in just a tad too soft a tone but, as this is entirely in keeping with the way she has been portrayed in earlier volumes, there is nothing out of keeping here. Indeed, it is good to see that not all fictional police officers need to have an entirely dysfunctional family life in order to convince readers of the vulnerable and fallible aspects of their natures. There is something very refreshing about Elínborg's down-to-earth approach to tracking down the murderer of a suspected multiple rapist, against a personal backdrop of entirely mundane off-duty worries. It is nice too to find her naturally empathic style at the fore in the investigative process rather than Erlendur's more intuitive but essentially awkward approach -- one can't help but feel that he really would have been out of his depth in this case.
Another of the author's departures from his usual practice in this tale is the setting up something of a mystery for the reader as well as the police; this is one of the few books in this series to have the reader puzzling to see how all the pieces will fit together as well as just who actually dunnit! The result is a highly engaging and intriguing police procedural that stands somewhat apart from the earlier books in this series and yet is very much of their ilk. The biggest irony is that Inspector Erlendur himself is essentially missing from one of the very best of the books in a series that so many readers name for him!
Indridason's `Murder in Reykjavik' series of Icelandic police procedural stories gets better and better. In "Outrage", translated by Anna Yates, Detective Erlendur is away from the capital and the case is led by Elinborg, his female colleague. She has a myriad of family worries and these are expertly integrated into the search for the murderer of a telephone engineer found with his throat expertly cut. In the first chapter, we are led into the investigation by the victim who already seems a rather nasty individual.
The police think that there may have been a link to a woman and that perhaps an assault or rape might have been involved. This provides another challenge for Elinborg because, in a country as small as Iceland, in outlying small communities, everyone knows everybody else and secrets are only hidden from outsiders.
Had this investigation had been led by Erlendur it would have proceeded very differently but would probably have reached the same conclusion. However, the thought processes of Elinborg that Indridason describes create a significantly different perspective about the case, the victim and the people involved.
As befits a central character, we are given a great deal of background knowledge about Elinborg, her childhood, relationships and family, as well as her rather fraught relationship with her police colleague, Sigurdur Oli, whose behavior aggravated by difficulties at home.
The author also manages to inform us about the changes in Icelandic society over the last 30 or so years through a comparison of the food that Elinborg's mother used to prepare for her family and what Elinborg now prepares for her family - indeed, she has already published one cookery book and is working on another - a process she finds provides relaxation from her stressful day job. Food actually plays a part in the development of the plot as does the sense of smell.
There is also some interesting information about outbreaks of polio in Iceland and the short- and long-term consequences of those unfortunate enough to have caught the virus. Indridason is extremely good at introducing facts about Iceland's history and its people in a way that fits within the storyline and does not read like a rather laboured detour; this is one of the problems that I have encountered in stories about other foreign police investigation teams.
The investigation is painstakingly pursued with statements being collected from some quite unusual people and how they would fare under cross-examination in court is open to considerable question. Nevertheless, by the end of the story most of the loose ends are tied up, although the chances of finding out what has happened to a missing girl, that may or may not tie in with the present case, look unlikely. Intriguingly, there is also another missing person, introduced late on in the story, who may or may not feature in the next book.
Whilst not suggesting that Erlendur extends his holiday even longer, it may be that the tone of future stories in this series will be more collegiate, although an alternative is that having established that she can lead a successful investigation, Erlindur may become frustrated if she is expected to return to being `just' an assistant. Given Erlendur's grumpiness and his limited management and communication skills, as well as the tensions between Oli and Erlendur, sparks may well fly!
I can understand if some people think that there is too much about Elinborg's back story in this novel, but that shows just how little we have learned about her in the previous eight books. That itself, in retrospect, is a minor outrage.
Whilst the some of the author's books in this series are sometimes better read in order of publication, because this one introduces so much new information about Erlendur it can be read as a stand-alone novel, will enable new readers to gain insights into untimely deaths in Iceland and, undoubtedly, will secure even more fans for the author.
on 6 May 2012
I finished Outrage just over a week before I sat down to write this review. What is unsettling is the fact that a lot of the plot had already started to slip away from my memory. I know I enjoyed reading the book a lot, but a fair bit failed to stick to the old grey cells. This has led me to reflect a little on Indridason's other translated books - all of which I've read. I've a mixed memory with respect to them. For example, I remember Jar City very well even though it's a few years since I've read it, but although Hypothermia was one of my books of 2010, I can't for the life of me recall what it was about (and I'm usually pretty good at remembering books and their plots). I think this is because Indridason's forte is ordinary characters and exposing the mundane and banal aspects of everyday life and police investigations. His stories are carefully layered and reflective, are philosophical in a literary sense, and have fairly ambiguous endings. It is the style, atmosphere and the central characters that linger not the plot. They're books that create a certain mood, rather than a visceral impact. That's also the reason why I like them so much. Outrage is a fine addition to the series, allowing one of the support characters to come to the fore. The reader finds out much more about Elinborg and her family circumstances and history, which was a nice complement to simply tracking Erlendur from book to book. Despite the fact that the stories seem to slip away from me, I'll be in the queue for the next one.
on 3 March 2012
Book 7, in the Reykjavik Murder Mysteries
This is a classic crime novel, a traditional police procedural that could be read independently of the rest in the series. This time, Mr. Indridason has provided the reader with a different view of his protagonists and given one of his subsidiary characters a leading role.
Exhausted after dealing with an extremely difficult case, Inspector Erlendur has taken an abrupt leave of absence and gone back to the Eastern Fjords where he grew up to pursue some personal matters leaving Detective Elinborg, one of his trusty colleagues as prime investigator in any new cases .
The skillfully paced and structured story starts when a man picks up a woman at a bar and brings her back to his apartment for an evening of fun. When police are called to his apartment they discover a murder scene, a puzzling scene with no sign of break-in or struggle. The male victim is wearing a t-shirt that immediately says there is something wrong with this scenario. Upon further investigation, the detectives find a vial of Rohypnol in the victim's pocket and under the bed a woman's shawl giving off a strong and unusual aroma. These preliminary findings are the start of a complicated case that can make or break an investigative team'.
Detective Elinborg also has more than one challenge on her plate, family life and this investigation will test her abilities in more ways than one. She is sharp, determined and has good instincts. In this case, others quickly lock in on a suspect, but her gut feelings tell her there is a lot more to the story, broadening the scope of the investigation eventually takes her to a remote village to flush out the real culprit.
I find the author's idea of bringing another member, a female Inspector to the forefront a refreshing change. The mystery flows smoothly and is layered with Detective Elinborg's problem solving abilities, on and off the job, giving the reader a sensitive side to the team's everyday challenges. Mr. Indridason is skilled at creating interesting characters and drawing us into their world of suspense and intrigue.
This novel is another great addition to M. Indridason`s repertoire of mysteries.
on 1 November 2011
At the outset of this newest book by Icelandic author Indridason, the eighth in the series available in English translation, a young man picks up a woman in a bar, slips some rohypnol into her drink and brings her back to his home in an historic area of Reykjavik. When two days later the police are called to the scene, the body found lying in a pool of blood on the floor is not that of the woman, but the young man who lived there, his throat having been slashed. The only clues are a woman's shawl, and a strange smell that lingers in the air.
In this latest entry in the series, Detective Elinborg has the primary role, while her colleagues Erlendur and Sigurdur Oli take on lesser roles, the former only by reference in the early and late parts of the book [referred to as "a failure of a father," an "irascible loner," and "an insightful detective" whom Elinborg admires but does not necessarily like]. As the book opens he has apparently taken a leave of absence to travel to the East Fjords, where he had lived as a young boy. Oli has only a secondary role in the present investigations, with Elinborg taking the lead.
As always, Elinborg has conflicts between her job and her role as a wife and mother, and worries that she is not devoting enough time to her family. The older of her two sons, 16 years old and increasingly distant, has been a cause of concern lately, and she "sometimes worried about the relationships between parents and their children," a theme which recurs throughout the book. In the course of her investigation, Elinborg is drawn into an old case, one involving the disappearance of a 19-year-old girl six years prior, and the possibility that the two cases are tied together.
Having been steadily absorbing reading for more than the first half of the book, it suddenly becomes more intriguing as the plot turns more complex, and maintains that level till the denouement. This is a powerful book, consistent with all this author's prior work, and highly recommended.