This was my first experience reading this series, and over all I found it a pretty impressive start. It is a solidly written thriller and mystery, with quite dark elements and a definitive bleakness, yet I found it quite engaging from beginning to end.
The plot involves Inspector Erlendur investigating an old man’s death. He and his partners search for ideas and clues for who the deceased is, who could have done this to him, and the motives behind the murder. As Erlendur tries to unearth various motives for the old man’s (Holberg’s) death, the plot becomes very complex. As Erlendur opens up the investigations into the past of this man, he finds quite another mystery at hand, one that ventures off into rather dark and uncomfortable territories.
There were other elements that were quite effective as well. I really liked the Icelandic backdrop for the setting of the mystery, and I thought many of the key characters and elements of the plot and mystery were well constructed. There are a few twists that catch you off guard, and the mystery ties all loose ends together rather successfully. The pacing is also very effectively done and there is a good build to the eventual big reveal and mystery. There is a film adaptation for this book that was made in 2006, and I thought it was pretty good in its telling of the story/novel.
I am really interested in reading next installment of the series, Silence of the Grave.