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Hypothermia: A Reyjavik Murder Mystery    by Arnaldur Indridason order for
by Arnaldur Indrišason
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Hypothermia is the sixth (following Arctic Chill) in Icelandic author Arnaldur Indrišason's Reyjavik Murder Mystery series. Its star is complex, committed and highly intuitive Reykjavik policeman, Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson, who's haunted by his younger brother Bergur's disappearance in a blizzard when they were children. It left him 'gloomy and withdrawn'.

Erlendur's obsession with that childhood tragedy defines him in many ways, and makes him tackle cases that others do not consider seriously. Marķa lost her father to a boating accident when she was ten and had been depressed since the death of her mother (who lived with Marķa and her physician husband Baldvin) two years earlier. Marķa had offered the use of her lakeside cottage to her closest friend Karen. When Karen arrives she finds Marķa hanging in the living room. She calls the police who quickly determine suicide.

After Karen gives Erlendur the tape of a séance that Marķa attended, he begins an unofficial investigation, not even involving Elinborg and Sigurdur Oli. While he steadily follows leads on Marķa's life and death, Erlendur also reopens a very cold case, because the victim's father is dying without answers - David, planning to study law, walked out of his parents' house almost thirty years before and was never seen again. Erlendur looks for similar missing persons cases and discovers a female student who also mysteriously disappeared at about the same time - Gudrun was passionate about lakes and acquatic life.

When he's not working or pondering 'the way simple coincidence could decide a person's fate, decide their life and death', Erlendur's children - drug addicted Eva Lind and alcoholic Sindri Snaer - drop into his life. They are both doing better than they have in a long time, though Eva Lind now presses her father hard to meet with his embittered ex-wife Halldora. The latter is just as reluctant as Erlendur is, but they eventually do as their daughter asks - though not with the result she hoped for.

Arnaldur Indrišason continues to deliver the most unusual mysteries, set in a fascinating country. In Hypothermia, Erlendur meets many individuals with an interest in the afterlife - their interests taking them down different paths - and solves a case in which a frail soul's vulnerability was unpleasantly exploited. He serendipitously finds closure for other cold case relatives, while still seeking his own. Don't miss Hypothermia, an excellent mystery in a consistently excellent series.

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