Thomas Dunne/Minotaur Books, $25.99, 344 pages ISBN 978-1-250-12402-9)
Iceland, positioned at the top of the world between Europe and North America, is a land of active volcanoes, long winter nights and some of the best noir writers in the world. Case in point . . . the newest crime fiction thriller by international best-selling author Arnaldur Indridason is a meticulously plotted murder mystery that combines elements of an unsolved World War II homicide with a present day suspicious death.
The Shadow District, by Arnaldur Indridason, opens in 1944 with the death of a young woman in the seedy “Shadow District” of Reykjavik, Iceland. The city is occupied by British and American forces who are staging men and materials in preparation for the soon to come invasion of Europe. American G.I.s there are getting romantically involved with Icelandic women in what’s called The Situation by the locals, who bitterly resent the foreigners competition. The homicide is being investigated by a Reykjavik detective named Flóvent and a Canadian military officer named Thorson, who are finding it difficult to gather any information about the murdered woman. At this point, the novel changes to the present day death of a ninety year-old man, smothered in his bed. A retired Reykjavik detective named Kónrad is asked to carry out an unofficial investigation into the old mans death. He discovers that the unsolved wartime murder is a piece of the puzzle in the contemporary killing. Alternating between the present day investigation and the wartime police inquiry, the novel depicts two investigations separated by decades. After discovering that two girls were attacked in similar circumstances, Kónrad begins to wonder if the police arrested the wrong man all those years ago.