Monday 26 November 2018

The Shadow District - Arnaldur Indridason (2013/2017 in translation)

Rating: Mediocre

The Shadow District is the second crime novel I've read in fairly quick succession, due to the crime genre theme we are exploring in the Subiaco Library book club. Once again, I am reasonably unfamiliar with crime fiction, however I know a great novel when I read one and unfortunately Indridason's novel is not one of them. Technically the novel is much better written than Belinda Bauer's Snap (2018), however unlike Bauer's novel The Shadow District is just plain dull. I'm not sure if it is a problem with the translation but the writing style has absolutely no dynamism, no shifts in tone and for a crime novel, almost no tension. The cold case mystery is intriguing enough, but due to the previously mentioned problems when all is revealed there is no excitement or satisfaction generated at all. It reads like how I'd imagine a police report would be presented, just the bare bones of what happened with no stylistic finesse at all. 

The narrative is set in Iceland both during WWII and in modern times, although really it could have been set anywhere. The characters too are uniformly dull; the two inspectors in the WWII sections, Flovent and Thorson are serviceable, and a little better is retired cop Konrad, who solves the mystery of the cold case during the modern era, however they are all mostly forgettable. It's a shame really, I did want to enjoy The Shadow District, but it merely served to pass the time, read out of duty until the next book on the reading list comes along, which is Yukio Mishima's Runaway Horses (1969). I'm hoping for better things from one of Japan's greatest writers and I'm certain I'll be rewarded.

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