Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review of Outrage by Arnaldur Indridason

Inspector Erlendur is away and Elinborg, one his trusty colleagues, is left to deal with any new cases. As a senior detective she is trying to balance the pressures of work with home life and looking after her three kids and husband. When the body of a young man is found in his apartment with his throat slashed she is assigned to the case. The investigation quickly alters track when a date-rape drug is found in his possession. It seems that one of his victims, or someone known to them, has exacted a terrible revenge. Despite her revulsion for his crimes, Elinborg patiently pieces together the events leading to the young man's death, whilst also trying to maintain a harmonious domestic life.

I finished Outrage just over a week before I sat down to write this review. What is unsettling is the fact that a lot of the plot had already started to slip away from my memory. I know I enjoyed reading the book a lot, but a fair bit failed to stick to the old grey cells. This has led me to reflect a little on Indridason's other translated books - all of which I've read. I've a mixed memory with respect to them. For example, I remember Jar City very well even though it's a few years since I've read it, but although Hypothermia was one of my books of 2010, I can't for the life of me recall what it was about (and I'm usually pretty good at remembering books and their plots). I think this is because Indridason's forte is ordinary characters and exposing the mundane and banal aspects of everyday life and police investigations. His stories are carefully layered and reflective, are philosophical in a literary sense, and have fairly ambiguous endings. It is the style, atmosphere and the central characters that linger not the plot. They're books that create a certain mood, rather than a visceral impact. That's also the reason why I like them so much. Outrage is a fine addition to the series, allowing one of the support characters to come to the fore. The reader finds out much more about Elinborg and her family circumstances and history, which was a nice complement to simply tracking Erlendur from book to book. Despite the fact that the stories seem to slip away from me, I'll be in the queue for the next one.


Anonymous said...

Rob - I'm glad that you liked this one. You put that quite well, too. The Erlendur novels really are about ordinary people doing ordinary, everyday things, and they do set a mood.

pattinase (abbott) said...

My son claims he is too much like the Wallender books by Mankell. I really liked the ones I read but I have never read much Mankell. What do you think?

Rob Kitchin said...

I've only read two Wallander books. I guess there are similarities, but I don't think it matters. A good book is a good book, regardless of whether a character is similar to one in another series. These are generally good reads.

kathy d. said...

I liked this book so much. The character of Elinborg was well-done, she a well-adjusted person at her job and at home, despite adolescent angst there.

The crime angle was handled well, but the character development was excellent.

Hypothermia was about a lot of things: the death of a woman with a question about whether or not her husband was responsible; a cold case of two disappeared young people; and Erlendur's driving and thinking through many pages.

He ends up going off of a trip to try to resolve his childhood loss, which haunts him and informs his life and relationships.

It was a favorite book of mine last year.

Indridason writes about human interactions, behavior, and ultimately, about the human condition, with some books focusing more on crimes than others.