Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason

Artic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason (2005) French title: Hiver arctique. Translated from the Icelandic by Eric Boury.

When Arctic Chill opens, Inspector Erlendur is on a crime scene. Elias, a ten years old boy has been murdered. He was born in Iceland from an Icelandic father and a Thai mother. Could it be a racist crime? Erlendur and his team are on the murderer’s trail and will make lots of detours before finding the culprit.

What can I say? I’ve heard a lot praise for Indridason and was utterly disappointed. I thought that the plot was trite, the investigation was dragging along, the ending was banal and unsatisfactory. Erlendur and his colleagues Elinborg and Sigudur Oli aren’t that fascinating. It took 404 pages to reach the conclusion in a tepid style. I didn’t even have the satisfaction to learn about Iceland. It didn’t help that the characters’ Icelandic names with their “dur” and “borg” endings evoked pictures of Vikings with swords, helmets and sheep skin clothing rather than 21st century human beings but that’s on me.

Paper thin plot + No real literary creativity + Rather boring book = short billet.

Why bother to write something then?

Because of my only rule : one book, one billet. I’m often behind with the writing and I feel that if I let myself not write about one book, other deserving ones might know the same fate. I need to respect this rule.

And also because I want to know: is this a bad one in the Erlendur series or are all the books like this? Please let me know what you think of Indridason if you’ve already read something by him.

  1. May 7, 2018 at 10:29 am

    I think that’s a good rule and I admire you for sticking to it and there’s definitely value in negative reviews, though it hurt me recently to give a negative review to an author I admire. I might wimp out if it comes to an author I know. I like ‘Scandanavian’ crime fiction so I’ll see if I can get Indridason in an audio book.


    • May 8, 2018 at 8:59 am

      I think it’s a good rule to but hard to follow at times. Especially when I’m overworked in the office.

      I’m not fond of writing negative reviews but they help me understand why I didn’t like a book or often they show me qualities to a book I disliked. If I didn’t try to write about it, I’d stay on my gut feeling of “I didn’t like” it and discard some of its literary qualities.

      I try to be prudent about what I write when the book is by a new / not-so-well-known writer. For Indridason and very successful writers like him, I really don’t think that a little billet by an obscure French reader will hurt them.

      Let me know what you thought about it if you find it in audio book. It’s a good book to read in airports, train stations, beaches…No need to pay a lot of attention. It helps pass the time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. May 7, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    I think this was possibly the last of this series I read. I liked the early ones better but I think I had started to sense a certain repetetiveness creeping in and I never felt strongly enough to read any more. If you can be bothered perhaps try an earlier one? 😉


    • May 8, 2018 at 9:01 am

      Thanks for your comment. So you liked the earlier ones better but there were not outstanding books either.

      I don’t think I can be bothered to try another one with all the great books out there… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. May 9, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    I read his first in this series, Tainted Blood (also known by the much better title Jar City). It’s I think his best known and there was a decent movie made from it, but looking back on my review I seem to have found it a bit lackluster and I never read another.

    In case of interest my review of that is here – – my impression though is that there’s a consistency of reaction between us.


    • May 9, 2018 at 9:24 pm

      Thanks for the link. I’ve re-read your review and…

      “Simultaneously he has to juggle his own problems with his estranged junkie daughter who has recently returned home and a missing bride case he’s taken on as a favour to his ex-wife.”

      Well here, we have a missing wife case as an aside.

      “As another aside, what is it with these literary detectives and their failed marriages, drug-addled children and side-cases? Erlendur’s not a badly drawn character (though it’s not a complex portrait) and is fairly convincing as a policeman but it would be nice for a few more of them to have successful marriages, affectionate children and competent superiors. I appreciate the life of a policeman can inflict real harm at home, but some of them must cope.”

      For a change, you can try Louise Penny. Her Armand Gamache has a perfectly normal life. And yes, strangely, it’s refreshing.


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