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Verdwijnpunt by Arnaldur Indridason
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1891162,490 (3.76)16
Authors:Arnaldur Indridason
Other authors:Adriaan Faber
Info:Amsterdam Querido 2012
Collections:Your library
Tags:2012, IJsland, thriller

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Strange Shores by Arnaldur Indriðason (2010)



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Inspector Erlendur is solo in this ninth series installment. The two Erlandur trademarks, his fascination with people disappearing in the Icelandic moors (primed by his brother Bergur’s disappearance during a blizzard when Bergur was 8 and Erlandur 10) and unsolved cold cases are in full force. Camping out in the dilapidated remains of his childhood home, Erlandur has unsettling dreams of Bergur’s disappearance. He is reminded by a local hunter of a young woman who, after purportedly setting off through the mountains to visit her sister in January 1942, disappeared when a blinding snow storm materialized. Erlandur’s curiosity gets the best of him and he begins questioning the woman’s few remaining relatives and long-time residents of the small town in which she resided, dredging up memories that to most of those involved are better left buried. But, Erlandur is nothing if not persistent.

Having been absent in the previous two mysteries (Outrage and Black Skies), Erlandur fans will not be disappointed with his return. His doggedness and unconventional methods are in rare form. Readers of Nordic mysteries as well as police procedurals will also find this book and series satisfying. While Erlandur veterans get more insight on Bergur’s disappearance, no knowledge of the back story is required for full enjoyment. ( )
  EdGoldberg | Aug 14, 2014 |
I remember well reading the first novel by this author, JAR CITY (aka TAINTED BLOOD), first published in English in 2004, and I've been a follower ever since.

Some reviewers are saying this is his best ever. I'm not sure I would go that far, but it is certainly memorable. Detective Elendur has been haunted all of his life by the loss of his 8 year old brother in a snow storm, when he himself was only twelve, and by the impression that he was somehow at fault. Beggi's body was never found despite an extensive search. At times Erlendur relives that time when he was waiting in the cold snow for someone to find him, and he realised that he was no longer holding Beggi's hand.

The story of the disappearance of Matthildur during a similar snow storm is one that Erlendur seems to have known all of his life. He is on holidays in the area that he grew up in, and takes the opportunity to try to find out what people remember about Matthildur's disappearance. At the time some people didn't voice their suspicions and there were some who knew the truth.

Although this is not an official police investigation Erlendur puts a lot of energy into it and eventually solves the puzzle. But can justice be done?

This is an excellent read. Indridason leads the reader through layers of investigation, so that eventually we understand for ourselves what happened to Matthildur, and Elendur is able to come to terms with his role in Beggi's disappearance.

My rating: 4.6

Elendur has actually been missing from the most recent novels in the series: BLACK SKIES and OUTRAGE, and it seems that STRANGE SHORES will actually be his final appearance - apart from the fact that REYKJAVIK NIGHTS published in 2014 is actually a prequel to the series. The first two novels in the series published in 1997 and 1998 have never been translated into English. There also appears to another novel in the Erlendur series, published in Icelandic in 2011, Einvígið, that has never made it into English. ( )
  smik | Jul 17, 2014 |
'Strange Shores' by Iceland's Arnaldur Indridason is the latest, and possibly the last, in the series featuring Detective Erlunder of the Reykjavik police. I say possibly, for the ending certainly leaves room for speculation, and I think too that that is the author's intent, so don't be surprised if like Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole you see another in the series. In this Erlunder revisits a haunting event from his past, namely the disappearance of his younger brother during a snowstorm, in an attempt to bring some closure. Erlunder survived that snowstorm and largely blames himself for his brother's disappearance. That event has served to haunt him ever since. Erlunder is absent from the previous two titles in the series (Outrage, Black Skies); it might in fact be that events here happen in parallel with the storyline of the previous title.

While his primary concern is his brother's disappearance, he finds himself investigating another disappearance, that of a young woman in somewhat similar circumstances during the war. Her disappearance during a blizzard occurred the same evening that a number of British servicemen were lost while on military manoeuvres, an unusual aspect of this storyline is that the event involving the British servicemen was in fact a real life occurrence. This investigation, while unofficial, takes him back and forth between a number of individuals still living who had associations with the woman in question. Erlunder is like a dog with a bone when it comes to solving a mystery, in particular when some doubt raises its head as to what in fact happened to her given that her body was never recovered. And dragging up the past is not to the liking of all. Meanwhile the activities of a now dead fox catcher is perhaps the only tenuous link and therefore hope for Erlunder in maybe finding his brother's remains.

Much of the story too involves Erlunder looking back on events of that fateful night where we meet really for the first time the young Erlunder and his parents, and where we get too a real sense of the tragedy that befell them and shaped the rest of their lives.

This is yet another class work from Indridason. A well constructed plot is at its core, but of equal measure is the character of Erlunder and the long time effect of his brother's disappearance on him. Indeed personal loss and its effect on people are central to the story, and you can't help but be engrossed in this well written story from start to finish. I can highly recommend it. ( )
  ebyrne41 | Mar 3, 2014 |
This was really excellent. Indridason writes the Erlendur character so well. It was quite a gentle story, focusing on past mysteries, and exploring the nature of grief when a body can't be found - the impact that can have on a life. It was quite moving in parts. The ending was enigmatic as well. To all intents, this could be the end, but with the book scattered with references to people surviving hypothermia, it equally could just be a pause. As a reader, I'm not ready to let go yet. I can only hope that, as an author, Indridason isn't either. ( )
  missizicks | Nov 29, 2013 |
Having read and enjoyed the entire series of Icelandic mysteries by Indridason, I was excited when this latest installment was translated. Erlendur, the unhappiest of detectives, made no appearance in the last two novels and, sadly, this will apparently be his last.

Erlendur is in remote northeastern Iceland where he lived until his younger brother disappeared in a snowstorm. Erlendur feels responsible for what happened to his brother Bergur but has borne “his guilt in silence” (181). Nevertheless he “came back for a visit every so often when he felt the urge” (11). During one of those visits, he has an encounter which sets him to investigating the disappearance of a woman in a snowstorm sixty years earlier. “Innate curiosity and an obsession with missing-persons’ cases had led him to delve more deeply into an ancient incident than he had ever intended, but he hadn’t been seeking out a crime: in this instance the crime had found him” (204-205).

Of course, the investigation into Matthildur’s death parallels Erlendur’s search for answers to what happened to Bergur: “His sole intention was to uncover the truth in every case, to track down what was lost . . . ” (221). And every night Erlendur returns to the derelict farmhouse which had been his childhood home: “part of him would forever belong to this place, a witness to the helplessness of the individual when confronted by the pitiless forces of nature” (21).

Though the book is a mystery, it is also an examination of loss and grief: “When a loved one went missing time changed nothing. Admittedly, it dulled the pain, but by the same token the loss became a lifelong companion for those who survived, making the grief keener and deeper . . .” (280). It is this observation that explains much of Erlendur’s behaviour, both in terms of Matthildur’s case and in terms of his choice at the end.

Sadness permeates the entire novel. Obviously, the loss of Matthildur and Bergur overshadows all events: the “dismal plight” of survivors “doomed to live on in the wreckage” and relationships “denied a chance to blossom” (188-189). There is also, however, the loss of Iceland’s past and the destruction of her pristine environment. At one point Erlendur observes, “He couldn’t understand how on earth an unaccountable multinational, based far away in America, had been permitted to put its heavy industrial stamp on a tranquil fjord and tract of untouched wilderness here in the remote east of Iceland” (8). Later, he bemoans the loss of “the old Icelandic storytelling tradition . . . linking man to his environment . . . [and instilling] respect for the land and the forces latent within it” (38).

There are some unlikely coincidences that tarnish the plot, but the book is a fitting ending to the series. What happens may surprise some readers, but I found the ending is perfectly in keeping with Erlendur’s character as developed throughout this series. In fact, I would argue that this ending was inevitable from the very beginning. ( )
  Schatje | Nov 22, 2013 |
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Wees een briesje, mijn lied,
in het riet van de Styx
en zing, vertroostend, wiegend
hen die wachten.
Snorri Hjartarson
May my poem pass like a breeze through the sedge by the Styx, its singing bring solace, lull those to sleep who wait. Snorri Hjartason
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Koud heeft hij het niet meer.
He no longer feels cold: instead a curious heat is spreading through his veins.
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Book description
A young woman walks into the frozen fjords of Iceland, never to be seen again. But Matthildur leaves in her wake rumours of lies, betrayal and revenge.

Decades later, somewhere in the same wilderness, Detective Erlendur is on the hunt. He is looking for Matthildur but also for a long-lost brother, whose disappearance in a snow-storm when they were children has coloured his entire life. He is looking for answers.

Slowly, the past begins to surrender its secrets. But as Erlendur uncovers a story about the limits of human endurance, he realises that many people would prefer their crimes to stay buried.
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A young woman walks into the frozen fjords of Iceland, never to be seen again. But Matthildur leaves in her wake rumours of lies, betrayal and revenge. Decades later, somewhere in the same wilderness, Detective Erlendur is on the hunt. He is looking for Matthildur but also for a long-lost brother, whose disappearance in a snow-storm when they were children has coloured his entire life. He is looking for answers. Slowly, the past begins to surrender its secrets. But as Erlendur uncovers a story about the limits of human endurance, he realises that many people would prefer their crimes to stay buried.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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