Earlier this week I described a long-running Scandinavian crime fiction series that moves forward without its main character, Inspector Van Veeteren. Today we have another Nordic crime series with the exact same scenario: in Arnaldur Indriðason’s Outrage, main character Erlendur is missing from the action… and may be missing altogether.
Erlendur has decided to go look for his missing brother’s body, yet again, but life in Reykjavik goes on, and so does crime. Outrage thus focuses on Elinborg, one of Erlendur’s able assistants in previous books, who must solve the mystery of a murdered man. Runolfur went to bar to pick up a woman using a date rape drug but ended up being the victim himself.
In earlier books in the series the main thing we learned about Elinborg is that she loves to cook and has written a successful cookbook, but here we also get to see more of her personal life, including a troubled relationship with her son and a painful history with another child that still affects the family today. All of this is by way of saying that Elinborg is nothing like Erlendur. Instead, Elinborg’s story reminded me a bit of two other characters, Thóra and Detective Inspector Irene Huss, both parent/investigators who struggle with their own teenage children.
It turns out that Elinborg is a fine detective even without the gloomy Erlendur to direct the investigation. She painstakingly and persistently follows up on the few leads that are available to police; she keeps going long after I would have, given the dearth of information (although the reader has access to a few insights that point to the killer).
In the end Outrage is a good book with an interesting mystery, but it’s not an Erlendur story. I hope, despite the dire hints toward the end of this book, that Erlendur is back in the next one.