Arnaldur Indridason - Arctic Chill (4 stars)

Arnaldur Indridason - Arctic Chill

Arnaldur Indridason - Arctic Chill (Harvill Secker)

Crime fiction is routinely disregarded by literary types, but at its best it can provide the kind of sharp commentary on society that a million Oxbridge dinner party novels could only dream of. Arnaldur Indridason's Icelandic crime procedurals are rightly lauded internationally, and this fifth translated work is as good as any written originally in English. Erlendur is our brooding, deadpan detective, chain smoking and throwing out one-liners in contrast to his upbeat go-getting sidekick Sigurdur Oli.

Indridason uses these two to examine the dichotomy at the heart of Icelandic culture, a country steeped in heritage but also relentlessly progressive. This time round the pair are investigating the murder of a Thai boy in Reykjavik, a case which forces Erlendur to confront his own demons, and the complex topics of immigration, racism and paedophilia raise their heads in a book which combines utterly compelling plotting with genuinely perceptive insight into the human condition.

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