Reykjavik Nights – Iceland – Arnaldur Indridason

bookThink 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

Hvassaleit /Miklabruat/Kringlumyri - where the three boys live who find the dead man. Kringlumyri where the man is found Hlidar - Erlendur’s own suburb where he grew up hverfisgata - where the police station is bustadir - where Erlendur is called to a disturbance SKulgata - 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 Nauthólsvík. - where there is a geothermal beach
Hvassaleit /Miklabruat/Kringlumyri – where the three boys live who find the dead man. Kringlumyri where the man is found
Hlidar – Erlendur’s own suburb where he grew up
hverfisgata – where the police station is

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.

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The Arctic Patrol Mystery – Iceland adventure – The Hardy Boys

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The Hardy boys travel to Reykjavik and have an adventure they’ll never forget! A childhood favourite here!

Story in a nutshell

A children’s classic and a real trip to Iceland if you care to reminisce with the finest bunch of teenagers we can remember. Not read the Hardy Boy adventures? Then try this one to Iceland and you’ll want to be in the Hardy boys club for sure.

An Icelandic sailor has gone missing and no where seems to know where he could be – least of all his insurance company. So The Hardy Boys – a bunch of fearless teenage detectives  – are asked to help find him and find out what happened to him. But from the very moment that they arrive in Reykjavik,  they are in constant danger. Frank and Joe uncover a shocking and wide reaching espionage plot that threatens the life of a U.S. astronaut and NASA’S moon project.

Place and setting

Akureyi - where the hardy boys are flying to when the plane goes down Reykjavik - the capital city and setting for the main mystery Snaefell glacier  - where they get stuck Snaefellssjokull - glacier area keflavik - where the small boat is returning to from the fishing trip
Akureyi – where the hardy boys are flying to when the plane goes down
Reykjavik – the capital city and setting for the main mystery
Snaefell glacier – where they get stuck
Snaefellssjokull – glacier area
keflavik – where the small boat is returning to from the fishing trip

The chills of Iceland and the vast snowy landscape are there from the first page and fans of the Hardy boys remember the spirit of the other books which is more than present here.

From their home in Bayport USA, they fly to Akureyi in Northern Iceland but discover that the pilot is an enemy before they even arrive in Reykjavik! When a helicopter comes to rescue the pilot from the glaciers and not them, it is sometime before they are able to get help and so escape from the snowy landscape.

As Joe himself remarks – “Iceland is not a bad place for a detective case”

Later having returned to Reykjavik they search for the missing sailor at sea – the scenes in the sea are just what you would expect fro the hardy boys series :

“Then suddenly it happened. A huge wave bore down on them. It hit the raft when it was in a deep trough, and after it had passed over the clinging occupants, Frank Hardy was gone!”

This is the land for snowy and dangerous adventure all what the hardy boys are about. The usual is here such as the chases, the tying people up and getting people out of scrapes, but the snowy setting really ramped up the tension since you see how dangerous those glaciers can be.

A fun way to get into the setting of Iceland and go back to your childhood for a great adventure and a blast from the past. Books meant for children should never be over estimated in your search for a cracking adventure or to learn about a place and country. A lot of Iceland in this book for your money! And you can’t beat the Hardy Boys can you?

My Soul to Take – Iceland – Yrsa Sigurdardottir

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Prepare to be spooked and chilled in Iceland’s chilly landscape…..

Story in a nutshell

A mystery in the chilly, snowy and icy landscape of mystery, murder, hauntings and a lot of buried consequences..

1940s. Rural Iceland – Someone cruelly murders a young innocent girl.

Present day – a hotel has been built near where the girl was killed (although at this stage no one knows about her. The owner of the resort hotel is not happy and says the place is haunted amongst other faults. Thora Gudmundsdottir, lawyer and mother is asked to look into the matter and so she does.

There is an awful lot more guests at this hotel than it would first appear…

This story is awash in possible motives, history, family gothic, etc. It is well constructed, with perfect pacing. If you love a good mystery, you will love this one.

Place and setting

The hotel and spa - this hotel might be nice to experience the landscape of the novel /the mountain Kirkjufell - it stood alone in the sea/the Hvalfjörður tunnel - part of the journey you would travel to to snaefellsnes/ Reykjavik and the Fossvogur cemetery
The hotel and spa – this hotel might be nice to experience the landscape of the novel /the mountain Kirkjufell – it stood alone in the sea/the Hvalfjörður tunnel – part of the journey you would travel to to snaefellsnes from the capital/
Reykjavik and the Fossvogur /Gufunes cemetery

Snaefellsnes on Iceland’s west coast provides the ideal landscape for a story built on superstition local folklore as well as snowy and chilly soil. the book itself is called  The story of Iceland due to the level of atmosphere and evocative aspects to the writing   – around the culture and the history of the island as well as the people and the landscape of course.

The Snæfellsnes  is also known as Iceland in Miniature, because many national sights of Iceland that are popular and well known are actually located here including the Snæfellsjökull volcano. You can see it quite clearly fro the capital city Reykjavik on a good day and another exciting fact – its the setting of the novel Journey to the Centre of The Earth by Jules Verne!

Well, if you of a nervous disposition you may want to skip certain parts when reading this as, well, the sound of babies crying in the fog for example is not something you forget easily.

The supernatural theme in this book is quite fascinating though so I persevered as there’s something about a building on the old grounds of an area which has a strange and spooky history.

The air of strange and gruesome goings on starts when you realise just how the victim has been found murdered. Even before I got to that point though – the very first chapter seen through the eyes of a small frightened child was perhaps one of the most chilling for what it leads to.

I’m amazed I was able to continue reading  – as vivid as my imagination is – but I had to know what happened to her!

The book is interesting on so many levels – the Icelandic setting is only one of them – but the culture and heritage as well as the mythology alluded to is quite interesting and there were many things I felt I discovered from the book. The role of Nazism in Iceland during the war was one.

Bbrrrrr Iceland is very chilly indeed!

Iceland Noir is here! – Reykjavik -Festival of Crime fiction

Some of the great and varied! Books set in Iceland - sagas, crime fiction and even a Hardy Boys adventure!
Some of the great and varied books set in Iceland – sagas, crime fiction and even a Hardy Boys adventure!

There is a phrase in Icelandic, “Ad ganga med bok I maganum” – which literally means ‘everyone has a book in their stomach’, or everyone has a book inside them.

Iceland has apparently the highest rate per storytellers – published story tellers  – per head of the population than any other country.

So quite aptly, the latest crime festival, Iceland Noir is being held over the next four days in Reykjavik, Iceland – a great setting for chilling crime fiction!  Some of the booktrail’s favourite authors are as we speak getting settled in for a crime fest – Mari Hannah, William Ryan, Peter James and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir to name but a few!

Nordic perspectives and translating crime fiction across cultures is on topic tomorrow and perhaps the one the booktrailers are most looking forward to – Location, location – From Greenland to South America, via Romania and Greece. Well, that would be one fantastic book trail we think!

It’s the Icelandic setting however that we’re going to focus over the next four days as well, the stories that have come out of Iceland over the years never fail to impress us.

It was where we first learned that the word Saga is a literary thing and not just a holiday club for the over 60s. A saga in Iceland is a tale told over the years and passed down from one generation to another, stories  about the country’s earliest settlers, the Norse, stories about culture and tradition. Oh and the legends and myths that this country has!

There are signs of literature all over the city of Reykjavik with story-plaques on public buildings. but where we had a summer of book benches here in London – benches painted in the theme of various books – Iceland has story telling benches where by scanning a QR code on the bench activates a story or reading by a local writer.

Now that’s one kind of self service scanning experience we at the booktrail would love!

Over the next four days, we’ll be looking at Iceland Noir with a keen eye – Sagas, talking book benches and a crisp, Icelandic setting where a bunch of crime fans and crime writers have gathered to make sure your next crime read is the most chilling one yet.

For more information on Iceland Noir – please visit  – http://www.icelandnoir.com/

Come back tomorrow for Our Featured Icelandic Read!