All Erlandur mysteries contain a current case and a cold case and Into Oblivion is no exception. This second prequel pits Marion and Erlandur against the United States Navy, to some extent, in trying to solve the murder of an Icelandic laborer who worked on an American Naval base in Iceland.
Taking place in the late 1970s, Erlandur is also obsessed with the disappearance of an 18 year old girl, Dagbjort, who left her home one morning twenty five years earlier to walk to school and never arrived. Her body was never found.
In the ‘main’ mystery, the body of Kristvin was found floating in a steamy lagoon by a female swimmer. The lagoon, very isolated and in close proximity to the Naval base, was thought to have curative powers over skin rash irritations. The autopsy suggests that he died from a fall from a high place onto a hard, flat surface, insinuating that the body was moved post mortem to the lagoon. The only place meeting such criteria is the mysterious Hanger 885, large enough to house the largest of military planes. As with all things military, cooperation was at a minimum. However Erlandur and Marion were able to enlist the aide of a military police woman, Caroline, who against orders, agrees to cooperate based on the mysterious nature of the hangar and rumors of related goings on.
Of course, in the case of Dagbjort, Erlandur’s persistence, similar to that of Columbo, if you’re familiar with the American series, finally wears down several witnesses and uncovers new evidence.
A bonus to readers is the history lesson they get in Icelandic/American military relations during the Cold War. As with most things political and military, Icelanders were split as to the benefits/detriments of having a U.S. military base on their soil.
However, Indridason gives us little insight into Erlandur’s obsession with cold cases. There is an oblique mention of news reports regarding men freezing on a mountain climb. Additionally, there is little to glean about Erlandur’s and Marion’s relationship, although we do learn a few tidbits about her past.
The one thing you can always count on, though, is a thoroughly enjoyable book.