Fiction — Kindle edition. Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. Minotaur Books, 2016. Originally published 2014. 352 pgs. Library copy.
In 1979, Erlendur is divorced, estranged from his young daughter, and working as a detective based out of Reykjavik. Like most of Iceland, he and his work partner, Marion Briem, are split on the presence of the American military at Keflavík.
Icelanders have been told the Americans are needed; that the small, island nation would be at risk from the Soviet Union without them. But Erlendur and Marion aren’t sure, especially after they discovered a connection between a man found dead in a blue lagoon, the U.S. military base, and the smuggling of goods on and off the base, including nuclear weapons.
At the same time, Erlendur is haunted by the cold case of a young girl who vanished on her way to school in 1953. The girl’s parents have died, and Erlendur realizes the cold case will grow even colder if time continues to slip away. His ad hoc, off-the-books investigation leads him back to Keflavík, where Marion and the US Military Police officer assigned to help her have started to upset the military hierarchy.
Into Oblivion is the second novel in the Young Inspector Erlendur series, which serves as a prequel to the nine books that comprise the Inspector Erlendur series. This younger version of Indriðason’s main character isn’t the gruff and jaded man he is later in the series. In fact, many of the past traumas that lead to his mannerisms later in life are brushed over in this book. They’ve already happen; they just aren’t mentioned.
It is difficult to reconcile the two Erlendurs, and the overall tone of the novel feels out of step with Indriðason’s other novels. And I found the cases, particularly the cold case, lacked the unique spin that I’ve come to expect from Indriðason’s body of work.
That said, the novel was well-written in terms of style and structure. Both cases proceeded at a good pace, and neither case felt like an overshadow or an interruption of the other. Indriðason tries his hand at a spy thriller with this novel, which made for a lighter and faster paced read. I’m not quite ready to read a book focused on “Erlendur, International Spy”, but it was a nice diversion from his typical works and I’m curious to see how the rest of the Young Inspector Erlendur series plays out.