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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hypothermia


Arnaldur Indriðason's Hypothermia begins with a bizarre suicide. Karen has been offered the use of Maria’s summer cottage on a lake for a fall weekend retreat. When  Karen arrives she finds the cottage in disarray and Maria hanging from one of the beams in the living room by the picture window that over looks the lake where her dad drowned in a boating accident many years earlier. Maria has been depressed following the cancer death of her mom two years earlier. Karen is concerned and explains to Erlendur Maria’s belief in the supernatural and gives him a cassette of a séance Maria attended. Further complications arise when Maria’s husband, Baldvin, a doctor, has her cremated. With the seemingly closed case, Erlendur opened a few missing person cold cases. Since the death of his brother when they were very young and his body was never found, Erlendur has always been drawn to missing person cases. An obsession you might say, his colleagues do anyway.
In time pieces of concern begin to emerge about Maria’s death that suggest something other than a simple suicide. The supernatural seeps into the questioning and life of Maria. Erlendur sleuths out a former medical student, now homeless, who was part of a weird experiment to kill and man and bring him back to life. Maria’s husband was part of that student trio. When Erlendur is asked why he is investigating Maria’s suicide he uses: ‘Because of the suicide,’ Erlendur said. ‘We’re taking part in a joint Nordic study on the causes of suicide.’ Not a lie since there are such studies, but not in this case.
Finally we get a full account of the events that caused Erlendur’s brother to die. Erlendur reads the account to Eva Lind, his daughter. It also helps us to understand Erlendur’s obsession with looking for missing persons. Today is a perfect Icelandic winter day, strong blowing winds, cold, and precipitation. Another day to stay indoors with a good fire and a good book. The woodman came with another half cord of good red oak wood that we unloaded and I then stacked to air dry for quicker use. That is one thing I would never have in Iceland, are good wood fires. They don’t have forests or wood to burn. If any place needed good wood fireplaces, it is Iceland. It is certainly a cure to Hypothermia, the subject of this novel.
Lots of coincidences are keeping Erlendur moving from one coincidence to the next. And still he is doing all of this on his own and still milking the suicide survey and good police savvy. There are lots of lakes too, lots and lots of lakes. What an intriguingly neat little package this novel becomes. Hypotherma, don’t try this at home.

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