Sun on Fire – Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson
Icelandic author Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson, after his debut novel ‘The Flatey Enigma’, in which he blended typical crime fiction ingredients with historical and linguistic research, has produced a series of rather more canonical works. Iceland TV has even produced a thriller mini-series in 2008, ‘Mannaveiðar (I Hunt Men)’, based from his third novel, ‘Daybreak’.
In the recently-published ‘Sun on Fire’, Ingolfsson confirms his skills as a fine crime fiction practitioner: the novel fires off with a paedophile entrepreneur found dead at the Icelandic embassy in Berlin, with 8 potential killers, all of course above suspicion (including the ambassador himself), no motive whatsoever and, to complicate matters, a murder weapon that simply had no way of getting inside the embassy… but did.
Initially the pace isn’t headlong, but curiosity at how the author – and of course his Reykjavik homicide squad detectives, playing away from home in Germany – will generate a credible plot starting from such premises, was more than sufficient to keep me turning the pages, ultimately to much satisfaction.
Ingolfsson’s detectives, huge, impulsive Gunnar Mariuson and the more thoughtful Birkir Li Hinriksson, of Asian origin and with a passion for marathon running, aren’t exactly a pair of action cops. They proceed methodically and with the odd unconventional touch à la John Rebus, which makes the story more interesting. They work patiently on the first and then a second murder, digging deeper and deeper in the past and discovering truly surprising connections among the suspects.. and not just them, as plot twists abound!
Ingolfsson’s skill lies also in cleverly managing his cast of potential murderers, making them believable and easily recognisable. The novel’s structure, with many short chapters marking the steady passage of the investigation’s time, helps to keep readers riveted, and not to lose themselves in the labyrinth of connections, passions and guilty feelings from which the solution to the mystery will emerge.
All in the best Scandinavian crime-writing tradition, creating an enjoyable novel which has convinced me to look for Ingolfsson’s two other serial books, ‘House of Evidence’ and ‘Daybreak’.