Cold as Hell

Orenda. (Áróra Investigation, Bk. 1). Feb. 2022. 276p. tr. from Icelandic by Quentin Bates. ISBN 9781913193881. pap. $15.95. M
Sigurðardóttir’s “Reykjavik Noir” trilogy (Trap; Snare; Cage) was about survival, a woman trapped in the world of drugs and smuggling. Her latest isn’t about survival so much as investigation and an Icelandic investigator named Áróra, solving a series of partly interlocking puzzles. Áróra’s sister has gone missing and has an abusive boyfriend who’s clearly hiding something. Áróra has barely begun digging into the matter when she meets a sexy millionaire who declared bankruptcy to avoid mountains of debt but still lives high. Áróra, who earns her living doing financial investigations, wonders where he has hidden his money and sees a potential payday in him. Strange moments and people abound, like her sister’s creepy neighbor who shaves his body, all over, three times daily because he can’t stand the feel of hair on his body; there’s also an undocumented immigrant with the name of a murdered man, and a faked postcard from Áróra’s sister. The subtext of Sigurðardóttir’s mystery is abuse, a bad man ruining a weakened woman. Is everything resolved by the end of the book? No. But Áróra does the best she can with partial and sometimes misleading evidence. It’s just like life.
VERDICT The writing is crisp, and Áróra is an appealing character. For lovers of Scandinavian noir.
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