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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 August 2013
And so the end is near, and Detective Erlendur faces his final curtain. Billed as the last book of the superlative Murder In Reykavik series to feature Erlendur, I will of course endeavour not to give anything away in terms of how likely he is to return or not, not wishing to mar your own journey across the frozen wastes with our long established Icelandic detective...

From the initial epigraph, taken from a poem by Icelandic poet Snorri Hjartarson, the novel carries a strange ethereal air, compounded by Erlendur's involvement in two missing person cases, firmly rooted in the distant past. Indridason uses the conceit of Erlendur being on vacation to facilitate this, and crucially camping out in the ruins of his childhood home, neatly casting the pall of past events over the novel. From the haunting echoes of his past life that Erlendur experiences, as he revisits his brother's disappearance when they were young boys, to the case of a missing woman, Matthildur, from many years previously that piques his interest as a detective, the associated guilt and the sense of unfinished business looms large throughout. Erlendur doggedly tracks the course of events leading to the woman's disappearance, stirring up some uncomfortable truths and uncovering the wounds of the past in a controlled and slow burning, but eminently satisfactory central plot. Indridason employs his characteristic sublime pacing neatly reflecting the slow march of time, but also how incidental this is for those whose lives are so defined by events of the past.

The more elderly and curmudgeonly characters Indridason employs in this storyline are a joy, providing a wonderful mirror image of Erlendur's own tendencies towards these darker and introspective moods. His interactions with them, seeking to tease out the truth of past events is, at times, so filled with such poignancy that as a reader you will be genuinely moved, as the story of Matthildhur's disappearance and that of Erlendur's lost brother Bergur, converge and separate throughout the course of the book. The way that Indridason portrayed the older members of his cast was beautifully done, with some neatly fitting the traditional characteristics of a long hard life lived not without its attendant miseries, and others with a veritable twinkle of mischievousness about them. Erlendur himself pitches between his role as a natural investigator, and yet a man seemingly unable to solve the greatest mystery of his life, leading to his own reference back to and meditation on, his familial relationships. The dark sense of introspection peppered throughout the story makes the tone absolutely fitting to a book billed as a final chapter to the exploits of long standing character. As to the outcome of Erlendur's personal journey of discovery, I'm giving nothing away...

This was classic Indridason, employing his trademark precision of style and pared down dialogue, all within the arena of a beautifully imagined and flawlessly described Icelandic wilderness. Slow moving, thoughtful and with an almost supernatural feel to the whole book, Indridason continues to adhere to my own belief that he is incapable of letting the reader down, yet again producing a five star read to satisfy any lover of Scandinavian crime fiction.
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on 29 September 2013
This was another simply brilliant novel by Arnaldur Indridason. Erlendur, the protagonist in all the other Reykjavik series books, returns to the moors of Iceland to investigate a 60 year old case, and search for his brother Beggi out on the moors, an ongoing side event in the previous novels. The descriptions by Indridason are once again fantastic, and like all Icelandic authors I have read, Indridason once again manages to create a tale full of melancholy and mystery. This is an absolutely brilliant novel, easily his best yet, but you need to read the other novels in the series first to truly appreciate this gem.
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on 20 August 2013
Or perhaps not. It is, in all likelihood, the last. Beautifully and simply written, gloomy and gruesome and tender. Of all the Nordic noir writers, Indridason is the most soulful and the most spare. Not all the books in the series are as effective - they dip when Erlandur is not the main protagonist - nor are they always similar in mood or intent, but this, the seeming last of them, is one of the best and the most moving - a quality all the books have.
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With "Strange Shores", Arnaldur Indriðason finally wraps up a story thread which he has been dangling tantalisingly under readers' noses for the previous two books in this series of 'Reykjavik Murder Mysteries', "Outrage" and "Black Skies". In the process, he also completes a story arc that has been running pretty much through the entire series and almost certainly closes the series for good.

For English-language readers, "Strange Shores" is the ninth volume in this series of books, whilst anyone able to read them in the original Icelandic, "Furðustrandir" clocks in as the eleventh. Victoria Cribb's beautifully idiomatic translation is as masterful as ever, The book is a complete change of scene from all others in the series, being set in the eastern fjord region of Iceland rather than in or around its capital, Reykjavik. It also involves no contemporary murder mystery nor even, it would appear, a crime of any sort. Instead we find Erlendur spending a period of leave from his job in the capital pursuing his increasing obsession with historical disappearances including, in this case, a highly personal one. None of the regular extras -- neither Erlendur's work colleagues nor any of his somewhat dysfunctional offspring -- feature in the book at all but I suspect most readers will not miss them as the storyline here is so riveting, any distraction from its unfolding would be irritating in the extreme.

This is an essential read for those who have been following the series through the earlier volumes. The story does stand on its own but cannot be recommended to anyone with any intention of reading others in the series -- and after reading this, you will want to read the rest!
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on 25 August 2013
A new Arnaldur novel is always an event, but this book confirms that he is in the very first rank of contemporary novelists. This seems to me the most Icelandic of the Reykjavik series, but you don't have to be aware of its literary hinterland to be drawn into both the central emotional trajectory and the unfolding events that fuel it. The Nobel-winning Nobel author Halldor Laxness would have been proud of the ending, and there is no higher praise. Although part of a terrific series, this stands on its own merits. The translation is superb.
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on 21 September 2013
When I first started reading I thought it showed promise. Unfortunately it didn't live up to its promise. It never developed, almost navel introspection by the protagonist reliving the loss of his brother in a snow storm and the believed loss of a woman in a later storm. Could have been good but the pace was slow that I lost interest and it became obvious what happened by half way through and I found myself struggling to finish it, sadly.
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on 13 October 2013
I think I have read in translation most of his novels. He is an outstanding contemporary writer who deals with modern themes in an emotional depth unmatched for me by any other at present. This novel seems to be cobbled together It takes themes used in previous novels which were hinted at and occupied a subsidiary role in other plot lines( and were all the more powerful for that) to a conclusion. Unfortunately it did not involve me in the way the preceding novels did. I think it is lightweight in comparison to them but compared to other present novelists writing in the same genre it is superior.I have such respect for this writer that I will still buy if possible all future novels.
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on 25 February 2016
This is advertised as the last book in the Erlendur saga – sad news indeed for devoted fans of the series, of whom I am one. But for any fans-to be I suggest you do not start here.
The early books have frequently referenced a tragedy in Erlendur’s childhood when he (& his father) narrowly survived a white-out: but his younger brother, Bergur, did not. This has contributed to making Indridason’s brand of Nordic Noir particularly noir. Here he sets out to see whether Erlendur (& thus we) can “achieve closure” on this seminal event. However it must have been clear from the start that Bergur’s death on its own could not sustain a whole novel. So he deftly weaves in another apparently accidental death in another blizzard in an adjacent part of Iceland’s dour & unforgiving landscape. And to this he adds other elements including a tale of thwarted love & a bit of the supernatural (communicated to Erlendur in a series of troubling dreams involving the mysterious “traveller”). The pace is somewhat slow: but my interest never strayed. I was sorry to find that there was no place in the narrative for Erlendur’s own love interest (Valgerdur) & his police colleagues Elinborg & Sigurdur Oli: but Erlendur was always a bit of a lone wolf, as was his inspiration Marion Briem who here rates only a brief name check. However there are downsides to the structure adopted: because Erlendur has taken leave from his professional duties to scour the hills of his childhood & thus his searches are never going to lead to any prosecution. To compensate for this inherent lack of tension Erlendur is portrayed as particularly clumsy in his conduct towards those he suspects may have information he wants: to the point that one witness is so provoked (unconvincingly I thought) that he presents a shotgun to our hero’s throat Oh – and Erlendur goes in for a bit of grave robbing – at night, by the light of a gas lamp – not once but twice, each time undetected by a mortal soul. So there is a deal of tension after all. And in the end for me Indridason is, as always, worth all 5 stars: even though this is not a typical Erlendur tale .
I can’t leave this review without saying a word of praise for the translation. I have elsewhere acknowledged that I am not, of course, in any position to know how faithful the translator may have been to the original text. But unlike the other translation from Icelandic to English on which I have commented, this narrative flows beautifully.
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on 11 June 2015
Strange Shores is a haunting tale of regret,changing times and life moving on. Those of us who have followed Erlendur from the beginning of this amazing series will know how the disappearance of his Brother when he was a child haunts him and has moulded his character over the years.
In Strange Shores Erlunder has gone back to his childhood home in a reflective mood and deciding to investigate the disappearance of a local woman that had become local folklore even before his Brother was lost. It becomes apparent very quickly that Erlunder is at the very least suffering from depression,if not becoming slightly unhinged as he obsessively and doggedly pursues the real story behind the disappearance of the woman.
Both storylines run in parallel as memories are awakened,feelings of loss and regrets about the past re-surface.
Rather than being the usual murder mystery with guns blazing and doors being kicked in Strange Shores is almost a Gothic horror story,something Edgar Allen Poe might have written.It moves along quite slowly but grips the reader as the reality of past events is revealed and a sad story becomes something more horrific.
There's an atmosphere of things changing,most witnesses are either dead or dying,Erlandur's old family home is in a state of dilapidation and even the beautiful Icelandic countryside is being swallowed up by a massive engineering project.
Erlendur is very much "the Icelandic Wallender" but Indridason is much kinder to his character,I remember being quite disturbed by Wallender's last appearance when his whole world seemed to implode in one of the most morbid books I've ever read. Erlender's end...and it's announced on the back cover so no kinder and could be seen as a happy ending.
This won't be to everyone's taste,not even some Erlendur fans,but I found it an amazing piece of writing with any number of sensitive subjects handled with a delicate and empathic touch.
If you've not read any of this series before I'd not recommend this as a good place to start,either go to the start and treat yourself to the whole series of at least read Hypothermia first to give you some background.
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on 18 April 2015
Book 9, in the Inspector Erlendur series

This is a powerful and very emotional novel. The story digs deep into how people cope with traumatic events and how it affects and shapes their lives for many years afterwards. Although I do agree with those saying this book works well as a standalone I would highly recommend you give the previous installments priority.

After a few editions without the presence of the main character it is nice to see the focus back on the morose Icelandic policeman Erlendur Sveinsson. In "Strange Shores" we find out what he has been up to while away from his job dealing with family business. This impressive story sets Erlendur to face his past. Camping at his childhood farm in the East Fjords where his brother disappeared in a snowstorm Erlendur makes a last-ditch effort to find out what happened to him. Of course the story intertwines with another disappearance of a young woman in the same area during WW11. Mr. Indridason mixes some fact with his fiction with a true story of British soldiers stationed nearby caught up in an appalling storm which cost them their lives.

The tone is quite different than we find in most gritty modern crime thriller, Strange Shores" is sad and poignant. The plot is more a soft flowing story than a fast, scary crime novel. It is simply a well told investigation of cold cases in the frozen fjords of Iceland. This is a classic Indridason, with pared down dialogue, wonderful characters and a beautifully imagined scenario. The impressive way this drama concludes leaves us to believe this may be the last outing for a wonderful character, if so this series finishes with a very light touch.
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