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Monday, May 6, 2013

Outrage by Arnaldur Indridason

Outrage by Arnaldur Indridason is the seventh Inspector Erlendur novel and it returns me to Iceland. Erlendur works with two other detectives: Elínborg, a female detective and Sigurdur Óli, a male detective. Elínborg caught the case of a young man we met in the first chapter who had readied himself for a night out on the town with some Rohypnol in his jacket pocket. We last saw him with a young woman whose drink he added the date rape drug. We are surprised when Elínborg finds the young man dead on his apartment floor with his throat cut and just a pair of trousers around his ankles, the girl’s San Francisco T shirt is on him, her shawl with a hint of tandoori is found under the bed, and a used condom on the floor. This is a twisted case and will be very bizarre. Elínborg will gather together another detective who has been working on rapes and try to untangle recent rapes involving Rohypnol. She is not happy with the rise in rapes, especially those involving Rohypnol.
After Elínborg finds the body and then goes home we learn a lot more about her family. Her husband Teddi is a mechanic, her oldest son, Valthór, is in high school and she recently found a condom in his trousers. She doesn’t talk with him much, his choice and he is short with her. She discovered his blog and is learning about him, his friends, his female friends, and even her family from the blog. She is discovering that the Internet is changing her children’s generation from being insular and introverted as was her generation into a more open and extroverted generation. Elínborg doesn’t quite know how to handle it. Her younger son is not as truculent as the older one but is getting there. Her youngest child Theodora, is a girl who loves to read. The boys are always asking her about her work, but she can’t talk about it. She has a lovely family. She doesn’t have kind words for Erlendur and his fathering or lifestyle, but somehow, I think they will find themselves in the same boat. Parenting is tough no matter where you live and how you approach it.
Elínborg is considering trying to tie this dead guy with the rapist of a previous case involving Rohypnol. She has traveled to his former hometown to learn more and leaves unsatisfied and with some questions. Upon return to Reykjavik, she provides us with a culinary tour of Iceland and then one of her own which leads her to the tandoori trail and the tandoori pot and to the woman who was with the dead man when she woke up the next morning in his apartment. Neither she nor her father did it even though they confess and then change their minds.
It comes down “putting your nose to the grindstone.” Elínborg is doing just that as she has used her nose to detect the tandoori and then the smell in the dead man’s house, which takes her back to his hometown. This is an excellent tale of rape and the consequences. Masterfully handled and presented. The title is perfect, OUTRAGE.
Erlendur never appears. He is off on a quest we have been hearing about in the previous six novels in the East Fjords. He and his brother were lost in a blizzard as boys and his brother was never found. Finally after all these years, Erlendur, took a two week leave to revisit his home and the hills in which he and his brother were lost presumably to find his remains. No one has heard from him and his rental car had been finally towed after sitting for two weeks near a churchyard near his home with no trace of the driver. Has Erlendur become a missing person? Ironic since that is his job with the police.
This is a novel about Elínborg, her cooking, her family and her relationship with each family member, and her job. She has written a cookbook and we see her cooking and we get her recipes. Like Bruno, in Martin Walker’s Bruno series, who is a cook and his recipes are provided on Walker’s website, I hope Indridason considers including some classic Icelandic recipes on his website. ‘Whenever Elínborg focused on her cooking she attained a rare state of calm… For Elínborg the three stages of cookery – preparation, cooking, and eating – were the recipe for life itself.’ Bon appétit.

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