....which is a seriously obscure Scottish punk rock quotation, from the wonderful single Radio Iceland, released in, oh, 1980-odd by Inverness band Those Intrinsic Intellectuals. How I wish I still owned it...but I don't need to, as it's on YouTube! Hooray!
But that's not important right now. I wish to delve into the world of Icelandic crime fiction, sub-set as it is of what we must call Scandic Noir. I nearly gave up on Arnaldur Indridason's The Draining Lake as I couldn't make head nor tail of bits of it. Especially on the first page, which has one of the most confusing first paragraphs in crime fiction history:
"She stood motionless for a long time, staring at the bones as if it should not be possible for them to be there. Any more than for her."
Sorry. Don't understand. Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's a translation thing.
Now, I'd read a couple of Indridason's books in the past - Jar City, which became a much-praised movie, and its much inferior sequel Silence of the Grave - and quite liked them, although I felt they owed an uncomfortably large debt to the awesome Martin Beck, the Laidlaw of Scandic Noir, as written by the husband and wife duo of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. I plan to read that entire series again soon. It's a cliche to say that without Beck there would be no Wallander, no Girl With Dragon Tattoo, no Killing. But it's true. And none of Wahloo and Sjowall's inheritors come close to being as good.
Indridason for me worked as much lesser Scandic crime does - unfamiliar, absorbing setting, predictable procedural plot - but I have to say that I'm glad I persevered with The Draining Lake. I was drawn into the doomy, obsessive world of Detective Erlendur, with his various, very Icelandic interests - family history, abandoned children, missing persons, history, Halldor Laxness - and the Cold War elements of Iceland's political past were both enlightening and fascinating.
Anyway, it was only two quid from the Red Cross, as was his early novel Operation Napoleon, which I'm going to read next. Or at least try.