Strange Shores is the last book in the Erlendur series by the Icelandic author Arnaldar Indriðason and is set in the eastern fjord region of Iceland. Detective Erlendur has returned to his old family home which is now a ruin and spends time walking in the hills looking for some evidence of what happened to his brother, Bergur, who disappeared in a snowstorm when he was a child. After this Erlendur’s family moved from the area to live in Rekyavik but Erlendur has never felt at home in the city.
All the books I have read in this series contain two stories – a modern day one and a cold case featuring a missing person. This book is slightly different in that both mysteries which Erlendur investigates are from the past – one features a woman called Matthildur who disappeared in a snowstorm 60 years ago and the other is Erlendur’s personal search to find out what happened to his brother. Erlendur survived the snowstorm but has been consumed with guilt since the event.
Erlendur is obsessed with missing persons and “had an old theory that among the many and various incidents of people going missing in the Icelandic interior, more than one crime had gone undetected”. (chapter 9)
This book is a moving and melancholy story of love, revenge and guilt. Through his persistent questioning of people who remembered Matthildur, Erlendur eventually solves the mystery of what happened to her and discovers her final resting place.
I particularly liked
· The descriptions of the Icelandic landscape which is an important part of this book adding to the sense of desolation and despair
· The character of Erlendur – we now understand why the loss of his brother affected him so deeply. As he says “all he knew was that somewhere on his journey through life time had come to a standstill, and he had never managed to wind the mechanism up again”.
· The spiritual dimension of the story which harks back to the old Icelandic beliefs and tales
The pace of the story was slower than others in the series but deeper and very moving as we gradually learn what happened to Matthildur and to Bergur.