Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

Mysteries dependent upon unusual means of murder offer a conundrum for the reader. I recall the manner of murder in Dorothy Sayers Nine Tailors as offering the reader   a clever and unexpected means of homocide. This book also relies on an imaginative scheme.

In Hypothermia a woman hangs herself. Because she was depressed about the death of her mother and no evidence exists to indicate  homicide the  death is deemed a suicide.

Inspector Erlendur is not quite satisfied with the case being deemed a suicide unless he can understand why she felt compelled to hang herself.

Two other story strands are interwoven --one involved Erlendur. When he was a young boy he and his brother were caught in a blizzard. He survives while his brother is lost in the blizzard. His body is never found and that loss propels Erendur to continue searching for him.

The other strand concerns a young man who disappeared twenty years ago. Despite the lack of any new leads Erlendur visits the boy's father each year. Now the father has only weeks to live and he wants to bring him some closure about his son's disappearance .

An intriguing aspect of the novel is the relationship Erlendur has with his daughter and son. While this is peripheral it enables the reader to see the inspector as a multiple-dimensional character.

Erlendur pursues a number of leads which look like dead ends and he often goes beyond the usual procedures.

He's obsessed with finding answers and his incessant questions produce answers. 

Despite the unusual manner of murder which added a dollop of suspense to the story, I thought Erlendur stretched his readers credulity when he also solved the two decades old case. 

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