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The Shadow Killer

The Shadow Killer
Arnaldur Indriðason
Harvill Secker
English translations
Review Author
Björn Halldórsson

(Þýska húsið, 2015)

Unlike the previous book in Arnaldur’s Flovent and Thorsson series, The Shadow Killer does not concern itself with a separate modern timeline and is firmly rooted in 1940s Reykjavík—a turbulent time when British occupational forces were being replaced by the Americans.

When the body of a travelling salesman is found with a gunshot wound caused by an American pistol, tensions escalate between locals and soldiers. The investigation leads to the first meeting of Detective Inspector Flovent and Canadian-Icelandic army liaisons officer Thorson. While doing their best to quell the involvement of private individuals and governmental parties eager for a chance to strike back against the Americans, Thorsson and Flovent track their killer through Reykjavík’s illicit nightlife, where American soldiers seek favours from local girls in exchange of precious wartime goods. Yet, the girls are no better off in the hands of their families and former beaus, who are all swept up in a moral panic over “the situation” and resent these young women for falling under the American influence.

As with most of Arnaldur’s books, the plot is enhanced with a precise historical and geographical account of the capital’s layout, allowing the reader to walk the wartime streets of Reykjavík alongside Flovent and Thorson as they hunt their killer.