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Detective Erlendur books in order

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 books 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:

Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason

1. Jar City

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.

Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason

2. Silence of the Grave

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…

Voices by Arnaldur Indridason

3. Voices

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.

The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason

4. The Draining Lake

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.

Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason

5. Arctic Chill

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.

Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

6. Hypothermia

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.

Outrage by Arnaldur Indridason

7. Outrage

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?

Black Skies by Arnaldur Indridason

8. Black Skies

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.

Strange Shores by Arnaldur Indridason

9. Strange Shores

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 by Arnaldur Indridason

10. Reykjavik Nights

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 by Arnaldur Indridason

11. Oblivion

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…


    Such gripping books. So nicely written, I feel I know the characters. Am on the last book and will be sad to not follow Erlendur any more

    I’ve read all of these and would like to know if he plans to write anymore?

    Brilliant Author ! Discovered by mistake but now totally hooked .

    Just finished Arctic Chill and couldn’t put it down. just listed the next books in the series and downloading now.

    Brilliant writing and gripping . authentic and atmospheric- he absolutely puts virtually all scandi noir into a grey shade – Erlendur is firmly rooted – like Beck and Wallander – in a changing society and a history of a country and its people

    Real and frightening as some of his stories are he never descends to the cheap gore of most modern crime writers

    I just wish that his first two Erlendur works could be translated into English

    I am just about to start ‘ The Draining Lake’ having read the previous three books.
    I stumbled upon the author after finding a copy of ‘ Voices’ in an old telephone box converted to a book exchange.
    I love the perfectly paced storytelling and attention to detail.
    Having visited Iceland several years ago this is also a nostalgic trip for me too.
    Really looking forward to reading all those translated into English.

    This guys writing is incredible! I am quite dyslexic but his books are amazing to be consumed by.

    So far I’ve read up Voices. I’m currently reading The Draining Lake. I’m absolutely loving the series. Such a brilliant writer, I feel like I’m there in the books watching from a distance.

    Just Oblivion (twice) and The Shadow District so far. Worked for Icelandair and the Tourist Board in the UK in the 1990s so fortunately familiar with many of the places he describes. But an author has to bring these places to life and he does that remarkably well, along with his characters. Particularly enjoy his ability to tell a story over three different periods of time, interweaving them. Just one question if anyone can answer it. The National Theatre plays a central role in The Shadow District in 1944 Reykjavik, but I read it didn’t oen until 1950?

    After spending 6 days on a pilagrimar in West Island and 4 days in a rental car in the West Fjords in 2016, I am now halfway through Oblivion.
    I recognize the place names and am familiar with peoples’ names in Icelandic.
    This is a story that grips me and I cannot put down this book!

    Just started reading The wartime murders series The Shadow District, absolutely hooked. We have visited Reykjavik many times and have noted how people feel about the American occupation so the history in this story is adding to my overall understanding and fascinating about wartime Reykjavik. The Shadow Killer is lined up next!

    I’ve read them all and getting impatient for the next one, it’s been a while

    Have them all.. and just recently started reading them for a 2nd time.. 🙂
    I was initially hooked by Operation Napoleon.. Obviously = Great Author.

    I am now reading all the books in order for the second time I love the way I can lose myself in his books I can picture the scenery too ! A great author like Hemming Mankell

    Read them all, though not sure about Oblivion. Am securing a copy to make sure.
    If Mr. Indridason is in his late late fifties, I expect there should be more novels to come…shouldn’t there?

    I have read all that have been translated into English. Arnaldur is my favourite crime writer of all time, for it is not just action and plot, but his characterisation, empathy and cultural authenticity. His prose is simple yet subtle. Each book in the series offers unfolding insights into the psychology, history and motivations of the main characters, flawed and moulded by their histories as they are. Arnaldur’s mastery of tragedy elevates his writing to the sphere of literary fiction, rather than mere crime fiction.

    I’ve rad five of Indridasons books so far and love the way he invokes the time and place, very atmospheric. He also draws the reader in to empathise with an at times misanthropic protagonist

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