War and crime in the work of Arnaldur Indriðason


  • Daisy L. Neijmann University College London


Arnaldur Indriðason, crime fiction, Nordic Noir, Scandinavian crime fiction, Icelandic literature, war literature, occupation literature, Second World War, occupation of Iceland


In the course of his highly successful career as a writer of Icelandic crime fiction, Arnaldur Indriðason has turned to the Second World War and its afterlife with notable regularity. While the war has long been a popular topic in crime fiction generally, it is unusual in an Icelandic literary context. Indeed, even the crime genre itself in its Icelandic guise has a very short history and still struggles to be taken seriously despite its unprecedented popularity. This article examines the literary context of Indriðason’s work, its reception and place in Icelandic literature, and the role of the Second World War in his work. War and crime literature share a number of important features, which makes the genre a particularly apt medium to explore wartime events and effects and their consequences in the present. In his crime novels, Indriðason uses the war as a framework to open up the past to investigation, uncover buried secrets and transgressions, and raise moral questions in the present. In doing so, he has initiated the process of exploration and critical revision of the wartime past in Icelandic literature that has characterised other European literatures since the 1990s.