Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Arctic Chill

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Arctic Chill (2005/2009) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder and Victoria Cribb

This story opens with the finding of a dead child.

‘Where do you think he’s from?’ Sigurdur Óli wondered.

‘He looks Asian to me,’ Elínborg said.

‘Could be Thai, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Chinese,’ Sigurdur Óli reeled off.

‘Shouldn’t we say he’s an Icelander until we find out otherwise?’ Erlendur said.

‘The boy who found him…’ Sigurdur Óli began.

‘Yes,’ Erlendur said, turning round.

‘He’s also col…’ Sigurdur Óli hesitated.


‘An immigrant kid,’ Sigurdur Óli said.

And that right there is why despite everything I like Erlendur.

And this bit, taking Sigurdur Óli down a notch, amuses me.

She took one look at Sigurdur Óli, with his short, precise haircut, tidily knotted tie, white shirt and black raincoat over a dark suit, and interrupted before he could even introduce himself. ‘No thanks.’ She smiled. ‘I don’t even believe in God.’

This story is also a look at racism and nativism on Iceland.

‘There was no clash,’ Kjartan said. ‘We had a bit of an argument. He seems to think it’s all right: the more foreigners that pour into this country the better. He never produces anything but that old left-wing bollocks. I told him so. He got a bit angry.’

‘I was eighteen years old,’ Kjartan said. ‘It was kids’ stuff. You can imagine. Fathers of Iceland! Only kids come up with that sort of crap. Teenagers trying to sound big.’

‘I know plenty of eighteen year olds who couldn’t even spell Weimar Republic.’

There is a second story, of woman who went missing weeks earlier, that Erlendur keeps at, but it’s the story of the murdered boy, his brother, and his mother that are the heart of this story.

Interesting words and phrases:

Let me close with this lovely and heartbreaking passage:

‘You didn’t cry,’ Erlendur said. Gudný, who was sitting with them, interpreted.

‘I’ve cried enough,’ she said.

Gudný translated Sunee’s words, her eyes on Erlendur.

‘I don’t want to worry him too much,’ Sunee said. ‘It will make it harder for him to get to heaven. It will be harder if he has to swim through my tears.’

Rating: 7.5/10

Published by Minotaur Books


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