cover image The Shadow District

The Shadow District

Arnaldur Indridason, trans. from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. St. Martin’s

This outstanding series launch from Indridason (the Inspector Erlendur series) opens with the police entering the Reykjavík apartment of pensioner Stefán Thórdarson, who has died in his bed, apparently of old age. The subsequent autopsy reveals that he was smothered. Only some old newspaper clippings, about a crime dating back to 1944, offer a clue, which is pursued by a retired policeman who grew up as a poor kid in the Reykjavík neighborhood that gives the book its name. Flash back to Reykjavík in 1944. The city is teeming with American soldiers, who are dating Icelandic women. One such courting couple discover the body of a young woman named Rósamunda; the two policemen who investigate determine that she was murdered. Another case, in the countryside, has similarities, and is connected to Icelandic folklore, notably the huldufólk, mythological “hidden creatures.” What happened to Rósamunda and the other woman? And what’s the link to Thórdarson’s murder? Indridason provides a great window into Icelandic culture as he explores his recurring themes of greed and abuse of power. (Nov.)