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Hypothermia: An Inspector Erlendur Novel (An Inspector Erlendur Series) Hardcover – September 14, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 165 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. At the start of Indridason's powerful sixth Reykjavík thriller (after Arctic Chill), the body of María, a woman ravaged by guilt, is found hanging in her holiday cottage, an apparent suicide. As Erlendur, a police detective who works largely alone because he prizes solitude above all else, doggedly interviews those close to María--her husband, her relatives, her friends--in an unofficial effort to understand what might have driven her to take her own life, he unravels an ingenious and sinister plot. Complicating his investigation are the ghosts from his personal and professional past: his failed marriage and his shaky relationships with the son and daughter who grew up without him, as well as unsolved missing-persons cases he still feels morally compelled to pursue. Most scalding of all is his memory of the blizzard that he barely survived as a boy but in which his younger brother perished, the tragic event that shaped Erlendur's later life and lends mythic resonance to Indridason's remarkable novels.
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Indridason, Iceland’s most widely read novelist, once told an interviewer that “crime fiction is about so much more than just crime.” In his latest mystery, as if to prove his point, Indridason has his series hero, Reykjavik police detective Erlendur, investigate what appears to be the suicide of a young woman. There is no evidence of foul play, and there are numerous indications that the woman suffered from depression due to the death of her mother and the drowning of her father when she was a child. At the same time, Erlendur is trying to solve two cold cases, the disappearances of two young people three decades earlier. For Erlendur, all three investigations resonate like Proust’s madaleines, compelling him to continue. Hypothermia is defiantly unconventional crime fiction. No shoot-outs, no car chases, no monstrous villains; only tragedies and the pain they inflict on ordinary people—like Erlendur. As he interviews a lengthy succession of people who might shed light on the suicide and the disappearances, the gloomy Icelandic cop continues to wrestle with the tragedies in his own life: his eight-year-old brother’s disappearance in a blizzard and the impact of his disastrous marriage on his children. Some crime fans might be puzzled by this novel’s dearth of action, but it is psychologically astute, beautifully told, and filled with insight into matters of life and death. --Thomas Gaughan

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Product Details

  • Series: An Inspector Erlendur Series (Book 6)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1St Edition edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312569912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312569914
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #632,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This thriller is peopled with ghosts, ghosts from the past as well as the recently deceased in a novel that reveals as much about Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson of Reykjavik, Iceland, as the subjects of his investigation. The moody, insightful inspector works on his own in an unofficial capacity, curious about the suicide of a woman at her summer cottage. As a child, Maria, saw her father drown in the icy lake near the cottage, vivid nightmares persisting throughout her life. Her mother, Leonora, is a source of great comfort until that woman's painful demise from cancer. In the intervening years before her own suicide, Maria is obsessed with life after death, the hope of communication with the other side. Unfortunately, Maria's husband offers few insights into his wife's state of mind, save generalized depression and a chronic fear of the dark.

Haunted by the disappearance of a younger brother in a blizzard when he was a boy, Erlendur appreciates the depth of family trauma, anxious to understand what caused Maria to end her life. Leaving detectives Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg out of an essentially unofficial investigation, Erlendur pursues tangential figures, friends, acquaintances, anyone who can help him recreate the woman's final days, burrowing to the heart of Maria's suicide, a tragedy with sinister implications. Tenaciously unraveling the twisted skein of Maria's final days, the inspector is abruptly reminded of his personal responsibilities by his grown son and daughter, most demanding the troubled and drug-addicted Eva Lind. The children are a poignant reminder a reminder of past mistakes, Erlendur likely more compassionate because of his flaws as a father.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been a big fan of Mr. Indridason's writing since his debut Jar City, and Hypothermia didn't disappoint - if anything, it further reinforces his reputation as one of the best crime fiction writers today. Police Inspector Erlendur's latest case centers around a bereft young woman who commited suicide, apparently still grieving her mother's death. Something about the case doesn't make sense to Erlendur so he launches his own informal investigation. While trying to unravel this mystery, he is also plagued with doubts about two unsolved missing persons cases (his specialty) from decades before. This is Erlendur's most personal and intense journey - as he comes to grips with his own past, present and future. Erlendur is a fascinating character and I devoured the book in one day. Here's hoping Mr. Indridason continues with this excellent series!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This sixth installment in the Detective Erlendur series is the best of the lot. Mr. Indridason artfully reaps the rewards of his patient and methodical construction of his protagonist, the typical literary detective character who is gifted at the job but hates the work, who refuses to do a sloppy investigation but suffers the consequences of a sloppy family life. Erlendur has been marked by tragedy, but we have learned that his personal tragedies are closely related to his formidable investigative skills. Erlendur is not only looking for the bad guys, he is trying to find peace. For this reason his character has something to teach those of us who do not happen to be investigators.

Hypothermia is that rare bit of fiction that hits fundamental truths about life in such a way that it provides illumination. While it is always satisfying to read a good mystery that leads to the unmasking of the evil doers, life presents challenges that are independent of our own actions--it may be fair to suffer the punishments of bad decisions, but what about the bad decisions of others or simple bad luck? Such are the questions upon which this novel is founded and it is the deep examination of the Erlendur character that makes the series so worthwhile.

As a literary figure, Detective Erlendur now ranks with Wallander, Bosch, Beck and others. Because his character is so meticulously drawn, the author is able to instead focus on the internal struggles that make life what it is. The earlier books in this series were sometimes difficult because, like so much in life, they resolved one issue only to leave multiple questions hanging about. Erlendur is now at the height of his powers and is beginning to find peace with a troubled past.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Crime fiction is rarely more unconventional than Arnaldur Indridason's bleak tales of Reykjavik police detective Erlendur, a morose cop whose own life plays as tragic as the victims he seeks to avenge. "Hypothermia" is his sixth outing, and if not his best, it is arguably the most complex. It centers on the suicide of a young woman, depressed by the loss of her overly protective mother and still haunted by the drowning death of her father when she was still a child. While there is nothing at the scene to suggest foul play, and is suicide an unfortunate but logical conclusion to the troubled girl's life, Erlendur doggedly pursues an unofficial investigation into the death. Hints of the supernatural, life beyond death, and Erlendur's own ghosts play heavily in this cleverly convoluted yarn. In a seemingly aimless meandering, Erlendur bounces with near-ADD lack of concentration from the suicide to decades-old missing persons' cases "cold" by even Icelandic standards.

As fans of Indridason have come to expect, "Hypothermia" is dark and moody - a new Scandinavian shade of noir - but intelligent, carefully crafted, and poignant. In some ways, Erlendur is an Icelandic "Columbo" - suitably rumpled and disarming - though missing Peter Faulk's humor and swagger. A man who realizes the mistakes he's made in life, and while regretful, is content to wallow in stoic fatalism. This is high drama, beautifully written, well crafted crime fiction. So give Stieg Larsson's "girl" a night off and get dark with Arnaldur Indridason.
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