Fiction – Kindle edition; Vintage Digital; 290 pages; 2011. Translated from the Icelandic by Anne Yates.
Outrage is the seventh book in Arnaldur Indriðason’s Reykjavik Murder Mysteries Series, which normally stars the morose detective Erlunder. But having taken a leave of absence, Erlunder’s female colleague, Elínborg, is star of the story instead. It makes for a refreshing change — and a cracking read.
A murdered man
The main plot goes something like this: a telecoms engineer, Runólfur, is found dead in his flat. His throat has been slashed, he is wearing a woman’s too-small t-shirt and his trousers are around his ankles. Later it is discovered that he has taken a large quantity of the date-rape drug rohypnol.
The police believe that he may, in fact, be a rapist and that his murder is a revenge killing. But was he murdered by someone he had raped in his apartment that night, or was it another victim from his secret past?
In this straightforward police procedural Elínborg carries out a painstaking investigation, almost single-handedly. She follows her nose — literally — because the one major clue is a woman’s shawl, found under Runólfur’s bed, which smells, strangely, of Tandoori spices.
During her hunt for the killer, Elínborg interviews Runólfur’s neighbours, colleagues, clients and old friends, trying to build up a picture of his rather mysterious life. She even flies to a remote Icelandic village to meet Runólfur’s mother. But just when you think she’s no closer to finding the killer than when she first started out, the pieces begin to fall into place. The ending is a surprising, but plausible, one.
Elínborg takes centre stage
I had expected to miss Erlunder’s presence in the story, but I found Elínborg a more than adequate substitute. Indeed, I enjoyed finding out about her family life — married with three children and a foster child — and her love of cooking (if you have followed the series, you may recall that in The Draining Lake she is busy promoting a cookbook). She’s also incredibly likable.
As usual in Indriðason’s work, the fast-paced book has an undercurrent of social commentary — mainly about the abhorrent crime of rape, the grubbiness of police work and the need to treat all victims, regardless of their character, in the same way. And it puts the crime into context, exploring its outfall, not just on the victim and perpetrator, but on others caught up in events, past and present.
If you’ve never read this series before, then Outrage may be the place to start — it reads like a standalone and you don’t need to know any of Erlunder’s troubled back history to fully appreciate it.
6 thoughts on “‘Outrage’ by Arnaldur Indriðason”
I still have to read my first Indridason but I have one ready on the shelves (in Dutch the title is Onderstroom, I am not sure what the English title is).
Thanks for your review!
I loved this book, too – such a pity it did not make the International Dagger shortlist this year. I did like the Eliborg character and dynamics. I’ve just finished the next in the series, BLACK SKIES, which I enjoyed tremendously. Interestingly, it features the other main detective, Sigurdur Oli, whom I don’t like but he’s a very interesting protagonist, used in a clever way. Another aspect I like is that BLACK SKIES covers the same time period as OUTRAGE, while Eliborg is investigating this crime – & we still don’t know what has happened to Erlunder…ominous.
Oh, this is making me even more excited to read Black Skies now, Maxine. I received a copy in the post a couple of weeks ago but figured I should read Outrage first. How interesting that it’s set during the same time frame. It’s quite a brave move by Indriðason to take subsidiary characters and put them centre stage, but I think he’s succeeded. However, I do hope Erlunder is OK! 😉
I love Indridason’s books, and this was certainly true of Outrage. Elinborg is a terrific character, a very competent and smart investigator, who has a family, with all of the problems of teen-aged angst.
I would love if it Indridason would write more books featuring Elinborg, but don’t think that’s in the cards.
Thank you for this review. I’ve not heard of this writer but I’ll look out for this series.
I hope you do hunt out this series. I’ve followed it from the very start and am yet to be disappointed. Of course, some of the titles are stronger than others, but they are generally very consistent in tone, plot and style.