ARNALDUR INDRIĐASON

Icelandic writer of crime fiction, internationally awarded and recognized for his novels featuring detective Erlendur Sveinsson.

Biography

Arnaldur Indriðason was born in Reykjavík in 1961. He graduated with a degree in history and has been working as a journalist, film critic and freelance writer. He made his debut as crime fiction writer in 1997, introducing his protagonist detective Erlendur Sveinsson.
The original Erlendur series comprises 11 books (9 translated into English) and then he has written three novels set in the seventies about the “young Erlendur” (2 translated into English). His books are all set in Reykjavík and across Iceland´s stony and cold landscape and provide many insights into Icelandic society and culture – the criminal justice system, nationalism, racism, immigration, corporate greed and the welfare state.
For the moment detective Erlendur is put away and the author has started a new series of historical crime novels set in Iceland during World War II.

Books

The Inspector Erlendur series:

The first two novels in the original Inspector Erlendur series are not translated into English, hence the different numbers in the series.

Jar City (Reykjavík murder mysteries book 1 / Inspector Erlendur book 3)
2004
Also published as Tainted Blood
Translated by Bernard Scudder
Original title: Mýrin (2000)
A lonely old man is found murdered in his flat in Reykjavík, the only clues are a cryptic note left by the killer and a photograph of a young girl’s grave. Erlendur and his team, including his boss Marion Breem and his sidekicks Elinborg and Sigurdur Oli, explore the the old man’s past and reveal disturbing secrets. Several decades ago the victim was accused, but not convicted, of an unsolved crime. Did the old man’s past come back to haunt him?


Silence of the Grave (Reykjavík murder mysteries book 2 / Inspector Erlendur book 4)
2005
Translated by Bernard Scudder
Original title: Grafarþögn (2001)
A body is discovered half-buried in a construction site outside of Reykjavík. The body is found to be quite old, but the hills that once formed the area have many stories to tell – of love, violence and murder. Inspector Erlendur finds himself knee-deep in both a crime scene and an archeological dig. Past and present are elegantly woven together while the identity of the body, killer and witness are revealed.


Voices (Reykjavík murder mysteries book 3 / Inspector Erlendur book 5)
2006
Translated by Bernard Scudder
Original title: Röddin (2003)
It’s Christmas Eve and at a fashionable Reykjavík hotel the doorman is found murdered in the basement. He is dressed as Santa Claus, and his trousers are down around his ankles as though he was dispatched in the middle of a sexual act. Inspector Erlendur is brought in to investigate and it soon turns out that the victim once was a promising soprano with the voice of an angel, whose fate turned on a dime and resulted in tragedy.


The Draining Lake (Reykjavík murder mysteries book 4 / Inspector Erlendur book 6)
2007
Translated by Bernard Scudder
Original title: Kleifarvatn (2004)
A skeleton is found in a lake which is slowly drained after an earthquake. A hole in the skull points to murder, but the most mysterious fact is that the body has been weighted down by a Cold War-era spy device with inscriptions in Russian. As Erlendur and his team struggle to identify the victim, their investigation gradually leads them back to the time of the Cold War when bright, left-wing students would be sent from Iceland to study in the “heavenly state” of Communist East Germany.


Arctic Chill (Reykjavík murder mysteries book 5 / Inspector Erlendur book 7)
2008
Translated by Bernard Scudder and Victoria Cribb
Original title: Vetrarborgin (2005)
A young dark-skinned boy is found murdered and Erlendur and his team soon unearth tensions simmering beneath the surface of Iceland’s outwardly liberal, multicultural society. But they also encounter resistance from the child’s family, his classmates and the local thugs, which include similar ethnic outcasts. At the same time, the boy’s murder forces Erlendur to confront the tragedy in his own past. Soon, facts are emerging from the snow-filled darkness that are more chilling even than the Arctic night.


Hypothermia (Reykjavík murder mysteries book 6 / Inspector Erlendur book 8)
2009
Translated by Victoria Cribb
Original title: Harðskafi (2007)
On a cold autumn night a woman is found hanging from a beam at her holiday cottage. At first sight it appears like a suicide, but then the friend who found her body approaches Detective Erlendur with a tape of a séance that the dead woman had attended before her death. Erlendur becomes doubtful and curious. He starts an informal investigation based on his own hunches, convinced the answers lie somehow with the woman’s husband and a local psychic she consulted.


Outrage (Reykjavík murder mysteries book 7 / Inspector Erlendur book 9)
2011
Translated by Anna Yates
Original title:  Myrká (2008)
A young man is found dead in a pool of blood. There is no sign of a break-in at his flat. The victim is found wearing a woman’s t-shirt and a vial of narcotics is found in his pocket. With Erlendur away on mysterious personal business, his female colleague Detective Elinborg plays the central role in this story. But with no immediate leads to the killer, can she piece together details of the victim’s secret life and solve a brutal murder?


Black Skies (Reykjavík murder mysteries book 8 / Inspector Erlendur book 10)
2012
Translated by Victoria Cribb
Original title: Svörtuloft (2009)
In this story Sigurdur Oli plays the main role and receives more attention than he wishes. Off duty, he goes to warn off a blackmailer for a friend of a friend but walks in on a violent scene with a woman lying in a pool of blood. When the victim dies in hospital Sigurdur Oli is faced with investigating a murder without revealing his own reasons for being present at the murder scene. A superb story of greed, pride and murder.


Strange Shores (Reykjavík murder mysteries book 9 / Inspector Erlendur book 11)
2013
Translated by Victoria Cribb
Original titel: Furðustrandir (2010)
Erlendur visits the remains of his family´s old home in rural Iceland and wanders the hills and fjords in the hope of finding the bones of his brother Beggi, who disappeared as a boy. Here he also learns the story of Matthildur, a young woman who disappeared during a snowstorm many years ago, a disappearance surrounded by rumours of lies, betrayal and revenge. As Erlendur begins to ask questions about the fateful evening when Matthildur disappeared, he begins to suspect what may have also befallen his long-lost brother.  Will it be possible to solve the disappearances of Matthildur and Beggi, after all these decades?

The “Young Erlendur” cases:

Reykjavík Nights (Reykjavík murder mysteries prequel)
2015
Translated by Victoria Cribb
Original title:  (Reykjavíkurnætur – 2012)
Erlendur has recently joined the police force as a young officer and working nights he discovers a city full of robberies, drinkers and fighters. Hannibal, a homeless man Erlendur knows is found drowned and a young woman, Oddny, vanishes without a trace on her way home from a club. Nobody really cares about either victim and both cases go cold. Erlendur is not an investigator yet, but his instincts tell him their fates are worth pursuing. How could they be linked?


Oblivion (Reykjavík murder mysteries prequel follow-up)
2015
Also published as Into Oblivion
Translated by Victoria Cribb
Original title: Kamp Knox (2014)
It is 1979, a few years after Reykjavík Nights closed, and Erlendur is now a detective, working for the shadowy Marion Briem. A body of a man has been found in the blue lagoon and forensics determines that the man didn’t drown but died from a fall from a great height. Eventually the man is identified as an aircraft mechanic called Kristvin, who had been working at the massive US military base near Keflavik.

The Reykjavík wartime mysteries:

The Shadow District (A Reykjavík wartime mystery)
2017
Translated by Victoria Cribb
Original title: Reykjavíkurnaetur (2012)
In wartime Reykjavík, a young woman is found strangled in a dangerous area known as ‘the shadow district’. An Icelandic detective and a member of the American military police are on the trail of a brutal killer.
An elderly man is discovered dead on his bed, smothered with his own pillow. Konrád, a retired detective, finds old newspaper cuttings in the man’s home reporting the shadow district murder. How are these events connected across the decades?


The Shadow Killer (A Reykjavík wartime mystery)
2018
Translated by Victoria Cribb
Original title: Kamp Knox (2014)
Reykjavík, August 1941. When a travelling salesman is found murdered in a basement flat, killed by a bullet from a Colt 45, the police initially suspect a member of the Allied occupation force.
Flóvent, Reykjavík’s sole detective, is joined by the young military policeman Thorson. Their investigation focuses on a family of German residents…

Standalones:

Operation Napoleon
2011

Translated by Victoria Cribb
Original title: Napóleonsskjölin (1999)
In 1945 a German bomber crashes on the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland. Inexplicably, there are both German and American officers on board. One of the senior German officers sets off, a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist, never to be seen again.
1999, the US Army is secretively trying to remove an aeroplane from the Vatnajökull glacier.Two young Icelanders become involved but end up paying with their lives. Before they are captured, one of the two contacts his sister, Kristin. Her quest to discover his fate takes her on a long and hazardous journey in search of the key to the riddle about Operation Napoleon.