Review: Strange Shores

Posted 22 June, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Strange Shores (Inspector Erlendur #11)
By: Arnaldur Indriðason, Victoria Cribb (Translator)
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase

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, Detective Erlendur is on the hunt. He is looking for Matthildur but also for a long-lost brother, whose disappearance in a snow-storm when they were children 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.

I posted about this book on Instagram but I bought this book whilst I was waiting at Keflavik Airport in Iceland for my connecting flight. I think I’ve seen his books in passing before but I never read them so I decided to pick one up. Of course, doing things backwards as I do, I started with the last book in the series, lmao. But the premise of this book interested me the most from the others available so there you have it 😛

I didn’t have to read the other books to get into the story and follow Detective Erlendur as he finds himself delving into the story of Matthildur and her disappearance as well as his own personal tragedy. I got a sense of what kind of person he is, how the past certainly haunted him in these pages, a bit on his backstory. It was enough for me as I followed him investigating Matthildur’s story and disappearance. It was an interesting case, not official policework or anything but clearly there was a lot more behind Matthildur’s disappearance than meets the eye. Not terribly complicated but the relationships and the connections were nonetheless fascinating, and the outcome very chilling.

But what I really liked about this book was firstly the writing. It really evoked the mood on some level, as well as Erlendur’s state of mind over the course of the case. What I also really liked about the book was how it brought the setting to life. I didn’t go to East Iceland during my time there but having been there and having seen the kind of terrain and weather it has, I can really visualise it further as I’m reading the book, makes the story all the more moody.

Strange Shores was a haunting and chilling story, but also sad in following Erlendur’s own past. I would definitely be interesting in reading the earlier books in this series at some point as the character was interesting and the setting definitely adds an element to the cases. Highly recommended!

Rating: ★★★★☆

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2 Responses to “Review: Strange Shores”

  1. Hmmm, I’ve avoided these kind of Icelandic mysteries because I’ve thought they would be too similar to the standard North American crime/mystery novels, but your mention of the setting and mood makes me want to give this one a shot.

    • Scandi noir definitely has its own flair, I find it to be quite different from North American crime/mystery novels or even British mystery novels. I also find them to be quite shocking for some reason–maybe because you don’t hear much of the dark side of Scandinavian life or society, but the crimes can be quite brutal–but I guess that’s what makes it different. This one definitely had a mood to it, not to mention the protagonist had a bit of a personal storyline going on that made him different or stand out.

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