Think you know Inspector Erlendur well? This book takes you back to his early days in the traffic department and how he became the man we know today.
Story in a nutshell
Inspector Erlendur Sveinnson, a veteran detective with the Reykjavik police was left in rather precarious circumstances, so this book returns to the young man in 1974 when he was still ‘ on nights’ as a patrol officer in the traffic department.
The old Erlendur of today however was the ever inquisitive man back then too for when a homeless man dies in a small pool of water, he, unlike others on his team, doesn’t put this down to too much alcohol or ‘ just one of those things’. He thinks more is at stake so he investigates further. What he finds and how he finds it takes him in new directions.
An interesting look back at the Erlendur we think we know. Turns out his early experiences have really given us a wider picture with many more layers than we have now.
Place and setting
Skulagata – the seafront near the police station and the flat topped mass of Mount Esja where Erlendur likes to walk and think
Tjornin – the little lake in the centre of town where Erlendur likes to think
The book is a slow start plot wise but there’s a good reason for this as we learn a lot about the Reykjavik of the 1970s. this is not the side of the city that you will have seen before and much of what you read here is like literally stepping back into a city that at that time was increasing commercialism, technology and foreign travel.
Location is evoked to show how Erlendur spends his time and the fact he is as such a loner here as in later books –
“Erlender walked over to Kringlumýri . It was not the first time his feet had led him in that direction. With little to occupy him outside work, he too k pleasure n wandering the street on fine summer evenings, round Tjörnin, the small lake in the centre of town; through the west end and out to the Seltjarnarnes peninsula, or south along the shores of Skerjafjordur to the cove at Nauthólsvík.”
A trail in the making if we say so ourselves. Might not want to join the Icelandic touring club as he does but trekking to the hot springs at Landmannalaugar sounds better to us than it did to him.
Good to see more of where Erlendur grew up and about his early school days too. His wishful thinking when looking at his own school paints a picture of a man with regrets and with a need to make his own way in life.