Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indriðason

Hypothermia is the 6th book in the Erlendur series by the Icelandic author Arnaldur Indriðason.  The book starts with the suicide of a woman at her summer cottage near Lake Thingvellir.  Although there are no suspicious circumstances, Erlendur starts to investigate this death.  It seems that the woman has been very depressed since the death of her mother two years previously.  Her father had drowned in this lake when she was a young child.

Running alongside this investigation, Erlendur is also trying to find out what happened to two young people who disappeared many years earlier leaving no trace.  Erlendur’s obsession with these missing person cases seems to stem from the loss of his brother in a snow storm when they were both children.  In this book we learn more about this incident and the promise he made to his dying mother to find out what happened to his brother, Bergur.  This helps to explain Erlendur’s character which is described as “gloomy and withdrawn” by an author who wrote about the incident.  Erlendur describes the day the family left their farm to move to Reykjavik.  “On the last day we walked from room to room and I felt a strange emptiness that has stayed with me ever since.”

We also find out more about Erlendur’s failed marriage and meet his ex-wife, Halldóra.  Their daughter Eva is keen for her parents to meet but the meeting is unsuccessful as Halldóra is still very bitter towards Erlendur blaming him for everything as he walked out on her, leaving her with two children to bring up on her own.  Erlendur tries to explain why he did this but Halldóra is unwilling to listen.

There are a number of themes running through this book:-

·         Ghosts and guilty secrets

·         Lakes, cold water and hypothermia

·         Missing persons

I really enjoyed this book and feel that I now have a much better understanding of Erlendur as a person.  I like Erlendur’s ability to speak to people and get them to open up and disclose secrets which have been kept buried for many years.  In this way he finds out a great deal about people and is able to work out links between the past and the present.  The descriptions of the Icelandic landscape are excellent contributing to the overall dark mood of the novel.  I am certainly looking forward to reading more of the Erlendur series.

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