Reading Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

Hypothermia I started reading Hypothermia this morning, and have just finished it. I had to break off at a couple of points during the day to do other things, but equally I had to take any opportunity to return to it and read on until I got to the end. It's a brilliant book. (How could a book by this author with this title not be great?!)

It's a perfectly told story – an apparently straightforward set of plots that play out in interlocking fashion – and also is a superb picture of the protagonist's internal emotional landscape through which events are filtered. Erlendur's decades-long musings on the effects of loss colour his thoughts and actions to this day. I identify with him more than any other character in fiction, as his age (and hence the way in which he responds to the world and current events) and preoccupations are so similar to my own.

But that identification apart, this is a wonderful book, relying entirely on good storytelling and authorial insight, and not at all on thrills, technology, special effects or other machinations. Yet it is never less than tense or compelling. When the last page is turned, one is left with a sense of having really experienced life in the book's setting in Iceland; of having learned something about human nature and relationship dynamics; but above all of having read a great story straight from the land of the imagination. 

My review is being drafted and in due course will be submitted to Euro Crime.

Publisher description: One cold autumn night, a woman is found hanging from a beam in her summer cottage by Lake Thingvellir. At first sight it appears to be a straightforward case of suicide; the woman, Maria, had never recovered from the loss of her mother two years earlier and had a history of depression. But when Karen, the friend who found her body, approaches Erlendur and gives him the tape of a seance that Maria had attended, his curiosity is aroused. Driven by a need to find answers that even he does not fully understand, Erlendur embarks on an unofficial investigation to find out why the woman's life ended in such an abrupt and tragic manner. At the same time he is haunted by the unresolved cases of two young people who went missing thirty years before, and, inevitably, his discoveries raise ghosts from his own past.
About the Author: ARNALDUR INDRIETHASON worked for many years as a journalist and critic before he began writing novels. Outside Iceland, he is best known for his crime novels featuring Erlendur and Sigurdur Oli, which are consistent bestsellers across Europe. The series has won numerous awards, including the Nordic Glass Key and the CWA Gold Dagger. His most recent novel is Arctic Chill. (Hypothermia, translated by Victoria Cribb, is published in the UK in October 2009).

Reviews of Indridason's previous Erlendur books.

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