Reykjavik Nights is a prequel of sorts, telling a story of Erlandur’s early days as a traffic cop, planting the seeds as to how he became an Inspector with the CID.
Working the overnight shift was rough, throwing off his sleep schedule, and he didn’t really like to work. Still, it gave him the time and freedom to pursue his interest (bordering on obsession) in tales of missing people out in the wilds of the Icelandic landscape. Iceland has a long history of folks just vanishing and an entire literary genre devoted to it. Anyone who has read any of the Inspector Erlendur books knows that his own preoccupation with the subject links back to when he was a young boy. He and his younger brother were caught in a sudden snowstorm. His brother was never found. Over the years he would tramp through the hills, sometimes camping at the ruins of the old family homestead, searching for any kind of a sign of his brothers fate.
In this book, though he’s only a traffic cop, his curiosity about disappearances leads him to contemplate the case of a young woman who vanished after a night out with co-workers. Shortly thereafter a vagrant that was known to him was found drowned in a pond and he can’t shake the feeling that they are somehow connected. The investigation he does on his own gets him in some trouble with his superiors but attracts the attention of his future mentor, Marion Bream.
This is a solid effort in the Erlandur oeuvre by Indridason, who is morose as ever, even as a young man. I still find him to be quite good company, though.