indridason shadow districtThis is the first in a new series by the author of the wonderful Reykjavik Murder Mysteries, all reviewed on this blog over the past few years. This series is called the Reykjavik Wartime Mysteries, so I’m going to assume that they’re all going to follow a similar format – a lot of the original mysteries had a dual timeline, but this is made more explicit. As you’ll have seen, I’m working my way through a bit of a glut of NetGalley books at the moment – I felt bad that a few had lingered, and I’d also like to make my way up to the coveted 80% reviewed badge – I’m almost there!

Arnaldur Indridason – “The Shadow District”

(E-book 26 June 2017)

In this new series, we meet shabby and shambling Marta (who doesn’t actually play a very large role), who is still in the police force, and Konrad, her recently retired colleague, who seems to want to keep his hand in by helping out with investigations (this seems more than a little implausible but is a theme in mysteries, I know).

An elderly man is found dead, and where it at first seems it was natural, foul play is suspected. Konrad’s father ran fake seances back in the day, and is now mysteriously dead himself, though this doesn’t really come into the story (is it going to be like Erlundur’s lost brother in the first series, I wonder). The story itself, which ends up weaving many strands together, reaches right back to the 1918 flu epidemic but mainly concentrates on a crime committed during World War II at a time when the “Situation” between local Icelandic girls, getting their first taste of a life outside the home or indeed the island, and American servicemen was causing shock, anger and resentment.

I liked the details of birdwatching on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula (because we’ve done that) and driving round Hvalfjorður rather than going through the new tunnel, but the book didn’t really catch fire for me, I’m afraid. It was competently done with a good plot, but Marta and Konrad, even though the latter had a back story and a sister, didn’t have such rounded lives as the characters in the earlier series. Maybe readers wanted more police procedural and less character development around the plot, but the latter is what I like, and I’m not sure I’d pick up the rest of the series, unfortunately.

Thank you to Random House UK / Vintage for making this available via NetGalley and choosing me to receive it in return for a fair review.