cover image Reykjavík Nights: An Inspector Erlendur Novel

Reykjavík Nights: An Inspector Erlendur Novel

Arnaldur Indridason, trans. from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. Minotaur, $25.

In this riveting prequel set in late-1960s Reykjavík, Indridason plumbs the backstory of his series lead, somber Insp. Erlendur Sveinsson. As a young cop, Erlendur patrols at night, writes speeding tickets, and escorts drunks to the station house. When Hannibal, a tramp he’s acquainted with, dies of apparently natural causes, Erlendur starts to investigate on his own time. In the process, he learns about Reykjavík’s down-and-out population—which Indridason presents humanely and without sentimentality—and about becoming a detective. His obsession with Hannibal and what happened to him foreshadows the concerns of the more mature Erlendur in books set years later, such as 2014’s Strange Shores. Erlendur connects Hannibal’s case to that of a missing woman and a criminal enterprise that may strike readers as amateurish (one tactic is stolen from the then-new TV detective show Ironside). The investigation slowly but surely gathers powerful, page-turning momentum. This installment stands on its own, but it’s all the more impressive for giving new insight into Erlendur. (Apr.)