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Review: Strange Shores, by Arnaldur Indridason

HERB JOHNSON – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
Indridason is an Icelandic author whose novels, naturally, are set in Iceland, where bad winter weather is a fact of life . . . and a major factor in this novel.
Years ago there were two major storms. A group of British soldiers get caught in one of them and are rescued only through a huge effort by everybody in the surrounding district. Even so, a number of them freeze to death and one of them falls into the river and is washed out to sea. It was during this same storm that Matthildur Ragnarsson also apparently perished. Her body was never found.
In the other major storm some years later eight-year-old Bergur Erlendur is separated from his older brother and his father and is never seen again. His brother, Detective Erlendur, now a policeman in Reykjavik, returns to what remains of his old family home in Bakkasel. He camps out there while he questions a long list of people about Matthildur, each of them supplying a snippet of information.
But he is still haunted by the loss of his brother. Even though all his questioning is about the missing woman, he keeps his eyes open for any clues that might lead him to his brother’s remains. He finds a toy car that looks very much like the one his brother always carried with him. He’s told it was found in a fox’s den, and he searches out a local expert on foxes. Could his brother’s bones be in a den somewhere?
The mystery of the missing Matthildur is more complex. Her husband is reputed to be an ill-tempered womanizer nobody recalls with fondness. He died in a boating accident some years after his wife went missing and if he knew anything about her fate, he never told anyone. As the story progresses, it appears he may have known more than he let on. Erlendur keeps digging and eventually finds evidence to support this suspicion.
The book has a lot of cold weather and people chilled to the bone. (One of the books in the series is called Hypothermia and another Arctic Chill.) Best read during the summer.

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