Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Arnaldur's latest, plus reasons to be thankful, Part I

I've just started Arnaldur Indriðason's sixth Inspector Erlendur novel to appear in English, Hypothermia, and I hope you'll forgive me for calling that a very cool title. Here are a few bits of the first chapter:

"She drove over Mosfellsheidi moor where there was little traffic, just the odd pair of headlights passing by on their way to town. Only one other car was travelling east and she hung on its red rear lights, grateful for the company. ... Karen was aware of the mountain Grimannsfell to her right, although she couldn't see it ... The red lights accelerated and disappeared into the darkness ... She had difficulty identifying the landmarks in the gloom ... "
What kind of story does that remind you of? Yep, me, too, and sure enough, after poor Karen discovers her friend's body, here's an investigating detective at the scene:

"He walked over to the shelving unit and noticed the brown leather spines of five volumes of Jón Árnason's Collected Folk Tales. Ghost stories, he thought to himself."
I don't know yet if ghosts will figure in the story, but Arnaldur sure knows how to create atmosphere, doesn't he?
***
On a more earthly plane, the Rap Sheet's J. Kingston Pierce offers a longish list of things he's grateful for as the United States heads into Thanksgiving Day. He saves for last a sentiment with which I agree wholeheartedly:

"Let me voice my appreciation, too, for the authors and critics who have made me feel welcome among them. ... I’ve been looking during my entire earthly existence for what sociologists would call `my tribe,' the folks among whom I fit best. I thought that tribe was made up of journalists, the professionals I trained with and learned from for so many years. But the fact is, I might have been looking in the wrong place. Turns out, where I feel most at home is in a crowd of crime-genre fans, all of whom have traveled the same dark (fictional) thoroughfares over which I’ve trod in my mind for decades. I hope to see you all again next October in beautiful San Francisco."
Amen, Jeff, and thanks, crime guys and gals. You've made my year. Happy Thanksgiving.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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10 Comments:

Blogger Dorte H said...

Hypothermia is definitely on my wish list; but while I am waiting, I have the one before it on my shelf to look forward to.

November 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Arctic Chill is a fine novel; you should enjoy it.

I just read that Arnaldur has published not six but ten Erlendur books; two after Hypothermia and two before Jar City/Tained Blood have yet to appear in English. Have you read any of those four?

November 26, 2009  
Blogger linkmeister said...

Happy blood-soaked (the turkey! the turkey!) Thanksgiving to mine host and all my fellow commenters who celebrate this American holiday.

November 26, 2009  
Blogger Dorte H said...

No, it seems as if they are translated into Danish and Swedish in the same order as in English. I borrowed the first ones from the library but bought Jar City in Swedish (it costs one third of the Danish price or so). I cannot read Icelandic - it is very different from Danish.

November 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Linkmeister, and to you as well. You'll probably be sitting down to dinner just as people in my part of the country are groaning, belching and loosening their belts.

November 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I wonder why books are so much cheaper in Swedish. I wonder, too, about the principal differences between Icelandic on the one hand and Danish and Swedish on the other. Phonetically, Icelandic seems closer to Old English than do Danish and Swedish. And I know that when I see a passage in Danish, Swedish or Icelandic, I can always make good guesses about what bit and pieces of the text mean. Perhaps I shall explore this matter further.

November 26, 2009  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Re Danish book prices: until recently the bookshops had a monopoly on selling books and setting the prices. Today supermarkets can sell some of them. I don´t know the rules about which ones, but it seems to be fairly popular stuff. In Sweden you can buy loads of fine crime novels at very reasonable prices.

When I see a passage in Icelandic, I can also guess bits and pieces, but not enough to read a whole book. The geographic position of Iceland explains why their language has not changed to the same degree as Scandinavian languages.

November 27, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I have read that Icelandic has been far more conservative than other languages, one reason Icelanders today can read Old Norse with little trouble, or so I am told. I have also read that this tendency to conserve the old language is deliberate, and not just a result of geographic isolation. Modern Icelandic will use old words or combinations of words even for new concepts, rather than adapting an international term.

November 27, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

My mother is Norwegian but she can't make heads or tails of Icelandic, even though Iceland was originally settled by peoples from W Norway (where my mom is from). Modern Norwegian "owes" much to Danish and, to a lesser extent, Swedish, as Norway was ruled by these two countries from the early 16th c to the early 20th c.

Arnaldur's novels are extremely evocative and moody. Offhand, I can't think of any other crime fiction writer for whom the passing of the hours is so significant a component of the narrative. But this also means they are difficult to read too often -- I seem to get SADD just reading one!

December 02, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I guess Iceland's settlements dates from before the North Germanic languages diverged. I read that Iceland was under Norwegian rule, but that ended in 1380, long enough ago to extinguish any possibility that your modern Norwegian mum would be able to understand Icelandic. I also read that Icelandic has retained inflection to a greater extent than most other European languages.

No crime novels I can think of are more evocative than Arnaldur's.

December 02, 2009  

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