This book, another in the Inspector Erlendur series set in Iceland, opens several days before Christmas at a busy hotel in downtown Reykjavik. The hotel is packed with tourists, anxious to experience real arctic Christmas, but that doesn’t concern Erlendur or his partners Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg. They have got an unusual murder to investigate and an uncooperative staff to deal with. You see, the hotel doorman and resident Santa Claus has been found in his room with his pants around his ankles, a condom on his wang and a fatal knife wound to the heart. Merry effing Christmas, indeed.
For reasons unclear even to himself, Erlendur checks himself into the hotel, and goes about investigating who Santa really was and who might want to harm him. In this little hothouse, he comes into contact with all kinds, good and bad and goes down more than one blind corridor before finally solving the mystery on Christmas Eve.
Throughout this story, Erlendur’s daughter Eva Lind is still struggling with the stillborn death of her daughter and her own tenuous sobriety. Father and daughter have a complicated, fraught relationship but eventually each make small efforts to understand one another. Erlendur even meets a woman that he can see himself perhaps caring about. He opens up to her more than any other character so far in the series, which is encouraging, but it appears to end there. You will not get happy endings out of an Indridason book, but, I do have a soft spot for that morose bastard and I am okay with that.