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by Arnaldur Indridason


I did say that I would be joining  Erlendur again, didn’t I? This is the third novel in the series and it is just as enjoyable as the previous two. Again themes of family are prevalent and because the whole story, more or less, takes place in the confines of a hotel, there is also a feeling of claustrophobia which can occur in families.

The story starts just before Christmas with the discovery of the body of the hotel doorman, who also plays Santa at the Christmas party, in his basement room not only wearing a Santa suit but also in a compromising position. Erlendur, a melancholy man who finds no joy in the festive season, decides to move into the hotel during the investigation to get to know the staff.

This is again, like the previous book, a novel that has threads running through it and the flashbacks develop our understanding. Erlendur has never come to terms with his own guilt over the death of his eight year old brother, feeling that he was responsible. This event altered his relationship with his father and we see Erlendur working through his own feelings. Investigations reveal that the doorman was a child star and his relationship with his father is also examined. Alongside this Elinborg is investigating a case of a child supposedly beaten by his father.

Indridason skilfully intertwines these threads and we see human stories, not gruesome crimes. The Icelandic landscape in this novel is absent, but the novel loses nothing because of that. Instead the characters are examined in greater detail and we learn more about Erlendur, his past and his fractured relationship with his daughter Eva Lind.

I have already bought the next book in the series.