The word that comes to mind after reading Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson’s The Flatey Enigma is odd. Not necessarily odd in a bad way. I say odd because it is in a style that I am not used to – there are no real main characters (the story concentrates around a small group of characters) and I have no real connection with the setting (1960s Iceland). I also wonder if it is a little odd because something is lost in the translation from Icelandic to English.
Here is a brief description from the book’s publisher (amazon crossing):
Near a deserted island off the western coast of Iceland in 1960, the dawning of spring brings new life for the local wildlife. But for the body discovered by three seal hunters, winter is a matter of permanence. After it is found to be a missing Danish cryptographer, the ensuing investigation uncovers a mysterious link between the researcher and a medieval manuscript known as The Book of Flatey.
Before long another body is found on the tiny island. This time, in the ancient Viking tradition, the victim’s back has been mutilated with the so-called blood eagle. Kjartan, the district magistrate’s representative sent to investigate the crime, soon finds himself descending into a dark, dangerous world of ancient legends, symbolism, and secret societies to find a killer.
Although there is not much suspense to the story, it has an intriguing quality about it that I can’t quite put my finger on. It kept my interest throughout the book.
Other than a good read, the book also brings a hint of Norse legend and history to the reader.