Set in Iceland, Arnaldur Indridason‘s award-winning Reykjavik murder mystery series features the enigmatic Detective Erlendur and his team. To date, ten of the books in Indridason’s detective series have been translated into English. Indridason’s stories are highly atmospheric and at times very dark, often touching on serious issues within society.
Gripping and absorbing, Indridason is without a doubt one of the best writers of Nordic crime fiction around – and if you’re yet to try his work then it’s about time you did! Here’s a quick look at the translated Detective Erlendur books in order to give you a taster of what you’re missing…
Detective Erlendur books in order:
A man is found murdered in his Reykjavik flat. There are no obvious clues apart from a cryptic note left on the body and a photograph of a young girl’s grave. Delving into the dead man’s life, Detective Erlendur discovers that forty years ago he was accused of an appalling crime, but never convicted. Had his past come back to haunt him?
As Erlendur struggles to build a relationship with his unhappy daughter, his investigation takes him to Iceland’s Genetic Research Centre, where he uncovers disturbing secrets even darker than the murder of an old man.
Building work in an expanding Reykjavík uncovers a shallow grave. Years before, this part of the city was all open hills, and Erlendur and his team hope this is a typical Icelandic missing person scenario; perhaps someone once lost in the snow, who has lain peacefully buried for decades. Things are never that simple.
Whilst Erlendur struggles to hold together the crumbling fragments of his own family, his case unearths many other tales of family pain. The hills have more than one tragic story to tell: tales of failed relationships and heartbreak; of anger, domestic violence and fear; of family loyalty and family shame. Few people are still alive who can tell the story, but even secrets taken to the grave cannot remain hidden forever…
It is a few days before Christmas and a Reykjavik doorman and occasional Santa Claus, Gudlauger, has been found stabbed to death in his hotel room in a sexually compromising position. It soon becomes apparent that both staff and guests have something to hide, but it is the dead man who has the most shocking secret.
Detective Erlendur soon discovers that the placidly affluent appearance of the hotel covers a multitude of sins.
A skeleton is found half-buried in a dried out lake. The bones have been weighed down with an old radio transmitter: is this a clue to the victim, and the killer’s identity?
Detective Erlendur is called in to investigate and discovers that there may be a connection with a group of students who were sent to study in East Germany during the Cold War, and with a young man who walked out of his family home one day, never to return. As the mystery deepens, Erlendur and his team must unravel a story of international espionage, murder and betrayal.
A dark-skinned young boy is found dead, frozen to the ground in a pool of his own blood. The boy’s Thai half-brother is missing; is he implicated, or simply afraid for his own life? While fears increase that the murder could have been racially motivated, the police receive reports that a suspected paedophile has been spotted in the area.
Detective Erlendur’s investigation soon unearths the tension simmering beneath the surface of Iceland’s outwardly liberal, multi-cultural society while the murder forces Erlendur to confront the tragedy in his own past.
One cold autumn night, a woman is found hanging from a beam at her holiday cottage. At first sight, it appears like a straightforward case of suicide; María had never recovered from the death of her mother two years previously and she had a history of depression. But then the friend who found her body approaches Erlendur with a tape of a séance that María attended before her death and his curiosity is aroused.
Driven by a need to find answers, Erlendur begins an unofficial investigation into María’s death. But he is also haunted by another unsolved mystery – the disappearance of two young people thirty years ago – and by his own quest to find the body of his brother, who died in a blizzard when he was a boy.
Reykjavik, Saturday night: He offered her another margarita, and, as he returned from the bar, he carefully slid the pill into her glass. They were getting along fine, and he was sure she would give him no trouble… 48 hours later, 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, while a bottle of Rohypnol lies on the table nearby.
Detective Elinborg, struggling to juggle family life and the demands of her job, is assigned the case. But with no immediate leads to the killer, can she piece together details of the victim’s secret life and solve a brutal murder?
Detective Sigurdur Oli is in trouble. After a school reunion exposes the chasm between his life and those of his much more successful contemporaries, leaving him bitter and resentful, one of his old friends asks him to pay an unofficial visit to a couple of blackmailers. He readily agrees, only to arrive to find one of the pair lying in a pool of blood.
When the victim dies in hospital, Sigurdur Oli must investigate a murder without revealing his own reasons for being present at the murder scene.
A young woman walks into the frozen fjords of Iceland, never to be seen again. But Matthildur leaves in her wake rumours of lies, betrayal and revenge. Decades later, somewhere in the same wilderness, Erlendur is on the hunt for Matthildur – but also for a long-lost brother, whose disappearance has coloured his entire life. He is looking for answers.
Slowly, the past begins to surrender its secrets. But as Erlendur uncovers a story about the limits of human endurance, he realises that many people would prefer their crimes to stay buried.
Reykjavik Nights takes us back to Erlendur’s youth. He’s a young officer in Traffic, not yet a detective, and working nights. And Reykjavik’s nights are full of car crashes, robberies, drinkers and fighters. Sometimes an unexplained death.
A homeless man Erlendur knows is found drowned. But few people care. A young woman on her way home from a club vanishes. Both cases go cold. Two lost people from two different worlds. Erlendur is not an investigator, but his instincts tell him their fates are worth pursuing. How could they be linked?
Oblivion is the second of Indridason’s books that looks back at Erlendur’s early cases.
Erlendur is a newly promoted detective with a battered body, a rogue CIA operative and America’s troublesome presence in Iceland to contend with. In his spare time he investigates a cold case.
He is only starting out but he is already up to his neck.
There you have it – Arnaldur Indridason’s Inspector Erlendur books in order! How many have you read? Let us know in the comments below…