The story is very skillfully paced and structured, the story threads lop and flow across each other until they are carefully and sharply woven together. The reveals are very well staged and the dark undercurrent come to the surface in a very satisfactory way. The investigation is orderly, logical and very determined. The final unraveling is done with considerable and quiet force.
Arnaldur Indridason does a number of unexpected things in this story, he gives the victims of sexual assault a chance to be fully rounded characters rather than be locked into victim hood. They have been battered by the appalling crime they were subjected to, they are not defined by it. This care for the person is equally evident with Detective Elinborg, she is pressed hard by her job and the demands that it makes on her. She has a credibly mixed home life with a loving husband and some strife with one of her sons. She is never the cliche of a hard worn police officer, she is doubtful and dedicated, trying to make the correct decisions. She also has a strong professional care and strength, she is open minded enough to trap an elusive and vital clue.The rest of the cast are given the same care and attention and as the coils of the plot tighten around themselves respond in credible and engaging ways.
The murder victim remains a shadow at the heart of the book until the investigation starts to stir up long hidden actions and he starts to come into dreadful focus. The final portion of the book is a triumph of storytelling as the past is dragged into the present and the dangling threads are tied up. Arnaldur Indridason has an unflinching eye for responses to evil, they way that it can be easier to look away and pretend and then how maintaining the pretense becomes and end in itself. This is a very unsettling and engrossing book, a pleasure to read. The translation is transparent, there Icelandic context is vivid and direct, there is no sense that it is being filtered in anyway.