My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I've read two earlier books in Indriðason's Inspector Erlendur of Reykjavik series and found them intriguing, if uneven. I was interested to continue with the series and see how it develops, but this third book in the series to be translated into English did not show much development at all. Indeed, the recurring characters all seem to have reached a point of stasis.
Inspector Erlendur mopes and dwells upon the dark side of life. He is haunted by the death of his eight-year-old brother in a blizzard when he (Erlendur) was ten. He blames himself and cannot forgive himself and it makes him angry and unable to relate to other people. Including his two grown children.
We again meet his daughter, Eva Lind, who survived the trauma she suffered in the last book when she lost her baby and almost died herself. She is miserable and trying to stay straight and clean of drugs, but it seems to be a losing battle. She is very angry with her father but still seems drawn to him.
Erlendur's two colleagues with whom he works closely seem to have fairly normal lives and try to reach out to Erlendur and offer him some solace, realizing how very alone he is, but he rejects their efforts. Of course.
In this book, Erlendur meets a woman who stirs his interest and he invites her for a meal, but the man is hopeless! He is so socially inept that he cannot even begin to carry on a normal conversation. I see no future in this relationship.
So, no, not a lot of development of characters here.
The story is that a hotel doorman/handyman/Santa has been found murdered in his basement room at the hotel. He was stabbed multiple times and found on his bed with his Santa pants down around his ankles and a condom hanging from his penis. A lover's tryst gone wrong, perhaps?
The investigation reveals that this sad victim had once been a child prodigy, a boy soprano with the voice of an angel. He had even made a couple of records which are now highly prized by collectors of such items. Then his voice changed, his career was over, and he slipped into anonymity.
Inexplicably, Erlendur decides to move into the hotel for the duration of the investigation - maybe because he can't face going home to his lonely apartment. Not that the cold, spare room he is given at the hotel seems any great improvement.
Most of the action of the novel takes place at the hotel as Erlendur and his colleagues investigate hotel staff and guests. This soon gives the novel a decidedly claustrophobic feel - not in a good way at all.
Once again, we meet a collection of Reykjavik's underclass of prostitutes and drug addicts, a world with which Erlendur's daughter is very familiar, but in the end the solution to the mystery is found there at that claustrophobic hotel.
Indriðason's writing shows promise and his characters seem to have plenty of room to grow. I keep hoping that the next book of his that I read will live up to the promise and perhaps begin to show that growth which I expect. It didn't happen with this entry. Still, I don't think I'm quite ready to give up on the series yet.
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