An Icelandic police detective probes a decades-old disappearance that resonates with a haunting incident from his own past.
Inspector Erlendur ventures to Urdarklettur, near the remote fjords of his country, to investigate the probable murder of Matthildur, a young woman whose disappearance several decades earlier was at first clouded by a contemporary tragedy involving some British sailors. While Erlendur's bona fides are genuine, his timing and intent seem murky. Is this case official or personal? Indeed, he was remarkably absent from Indridason's previous series entry (Black Skies, 2013, etc.). Painful flashbacks to Erlendur's childhood fill in details about the disappearance of his brother Bergur in the middle of a blizzard, a tragedy that has continued to haunt him. The villagers think Matthildur was murdered by her husband, Jakob, who was never arrested. Erlendur's main source of information is Ezra, an elderly farmer who was close to both husband and wife. When Jakob and a companion were drowned during a gale not long after Matthildur's disappearance, almost nobody shed a tear. Ezra reveals layer upon layer of the real story to his new confidant Erlendur, beginning with Jakob's affair with Matthildur's sister Ingunn and her subsequent pregnancy. Remains will be unearthed and many more developments in the mystery peeled away like the layers of an onion. Perhaps more important, Erlendur also reaches a kind of peace concerning his brother.
Not the tangled whodunit some readers might expect, but a beautifully written psychological thriller with a compelling Everyman at its core.