Arctic Chill is an appropriate name for a crime as coldhearted as the icy terrain of Reykjavik, Iceland. A shocking murder - the fatal stabbing of ten-year-old Elias on his way home from school - stuns the community. For Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson, a difficult case becomes more so when the Thai boyís brother, fifteen-year-old Niran, disappears soon after the crime and cannot be located.
Uncertain whether yet another crime has been committed, the police interrogate Eliasís mother through a translator, Sunee increasingly anxious over the whereabouts of her older son. Such crimes are familiar to Erlendur, a veteran detective who relies of Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg to follow through with each new lead. Indeed, the winter chill of Reykjavik is a familiar background for other Indridason novels, although this case stirs up old memories for Erlendur and the long-buried trauma of his younger brotherís fate years ago.
Racial tension plays a powerful role in this thriller, young Eliasís schoolmates unwilling to admit any obvious animus at their school toward immigrants. Yet interviews with various teachers reveal a hard core of prejudice, a long-simmering discomfort around the issue of immigration and the integrity of the Icelandic race. Maneuvering through this thorny territory is not without its pitfalls.
Erlendurís investigation only becomes more complicated when Niran is located only to be spirited away by his mother, who fears for the life of her only remaining son even with police protection. This is a family determined to keep their silence, afraid of the very authorities who offer protection and resources.
As usual, Indridasonís prose is sharp and literate, a seasoned detective vexed by personal problems during the ongoing investigation - not to mention a missing woman who continues to haunt his thoughts as he learns more about her husbandís past. Between the two cases, Erlendur finds himself second-guessing his own instincts, doubting himself at critical junctures.
Combining the personal with the criminal - his daughterís struggle with drug addiction, his own unresolved childhood trauma, and a blooming romance in his mature years amid the brutal reality with a cold-blooded stabbing, gang and drug-related activities at the boysí school and the unexpected presence of a local pedophile - Erlendur commits with his usual vigor in spite of the odds. Indridason delivers yet another solid thriller of contemporary Iceland that is culturally rich and reflective of the changed world we inhabit.
The cold fingers of dread creep into each of this authorís thrillers, his conscientious, cerebral detective ruminating on his personal philosophy while steering a straight path through the heart of darkness that inspires a chilling denouement.