Book Review: Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

Arnaldur Indridason
Translated by Victoria Cribb
Minotaur, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-56991-4

The past usually plays a large role in this author’s Reykjavik mysteries, and Hypothermia is no exception.  To begin with, the reader is treated to another recurring event in the life of Erlender Erlendsson, a detailed description of how he and his younger brother were once lost in a raging snowstorm.  The 10-year-old Erlender was found buried in snow, suffering from frostbite.  His younger brother was never found, something that has haunted him all his life.

Erlender becomes fixated on two very old missing persons cases and a current apparent suicide.  The cases seem to be unrelated, but his intuition grasps at straws and as he keeps unofficially probing the current case, he discovers a possible clue to the 30-year-old mystery of the disappearance of a young woman and a younger man.  A clue to the links between the various themes, of course, is in the book’s title.

Erlender is among the few protagonists in today’s fiction who haunts the reader with his moods and introspection to such a degree.  Written with a smooth eye for detail, the translation is on a par with the prose.  Another beautifully presented Erlender mystery to join the previous five, and one that is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.