Strange Shores

Arnaldur Indridason (Black Skies) takes a departure from his usual Reykjavik setting in Strange Shores, his ninth Inspector Erlendur mystery. The cast of regular secondary characters is thus completely missing, so readers are treated to a close-up of Erlendur himself--with his cigarettes and obsessions and stubborn tenacity.

Erlendur, who periodically returns to the village of his childhood, is camping out in the ruins of his former home. All his life he's been haunted by the disappearance of his brother, Beggi, who vanished into a blizzard at age eight. Erlendur, age 10 at the time, has always felt responsible for losing his grasp on Beggi's hand.

This loss has created a lifelong obsession with missing people, and spurs Erlendur unofficially to investigate a woman who went missing during World War II. Matthildur also vanished into a storm, and local rumors have ranged from suicide to accident to murder at the hands of her ne'er-do-well husband. Erlendur makes the rounds among the village's elderly, asking questions, reading old letters and seeking closure for both Matthildur's family and himself.

Erlendur's painstaking re-creation of the final weeks of Matthildur's life is a testament both to his dedication and to long memories in small towns, especially those in Iceland. While very different from the rest of the Erlendur series, this mystery is a fantastic addition. Its slow pace and apparently idle beginnings mask dark secrets and a chilling crime. Eerie, even agonizing at times, Strange Shores brilliantly illustrates the haunting power of the past. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

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