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THE GIRL BY THE BRIDGE by Arnaldur Indridason: Book Review

Detective Konrád, formerly of the Rekyjavik police department, is retired, but people keep reaching out to him for help.

An elderly couple, friends of his late wife, call on him about their missing granddaughter.  She is the only child of their daughter who died years earlier in a car accident and left her daughter in her parents’ care.  Danní had a typical Icelandic childhood, her grandmother says, but over the past few years she’s pulled away from her grandparents.  They tell Konrád that they’ve just learned that Danní has been smuggling drugs into the country, and they’ve come to him for assistance in locating her.

Apparently Danní was seeing a young man named Lassi, although the grandparents never met him. Konrád  finds Lassi’s address, and at his apartment he finds the body of Danní with a needle and syringe hanging from one of her arms.  When they hear the news, her grandparents tell Konrád to keep investigating and discover the reason for her death.

At the same time, the detective is drawn into a closer examination of his own past.  His late father had pretended to have psychic abilities, and during the Second World War he and a partner arranged phony séances, partly to fleece participants eager to hear from loved ones who had passed away and partly to make fun of their beliefs.

Konrád’s father had been stabbed to death many years ago, and his partner, Engilbert, drowned several months after that.  Konrád hasn’t heard from Engilbert’s daughter Eygló in some time, but now she contacts Konrád about two strange but related occurrences.  Eygló has always been interested in the afterlife and has conducted séances over the years for bereaved clients, hoping to alleviate their suffering.

Eygló tells the detective about an experience she had when she was a child and its reoccurrence.  She was at a birthday party and had “seen” a young girl who was looking for her lost doll.  Now, years later, she tells the detective that she’s “seen” the girl again and knows the girl is long dead.  Konrád tells her about the discovery years ago of a woman and her doll found in the Pond, both floating in the water, but he still doesn’t believe in Eygló’s psychic abilities.

Even years after the deaths of Konrád’s father and the girl who drowned in the Pond, the police don’t have all the answers.  The murderer of Konrád’s father was never found, and the official police report calls the girl’s death a tragic accident.  But there are many, many unresolved strands left to untangle–the death of Eygló’s father so soon after his partner’s death, the secret that the man who found the girl and her doll in the Pond is keeping, and Konrád’s belief that there’s more to the grandparents’ story than they are telling.

The Girl by the Bridge proves once again that Arnaldur Indridason is a master storyteller.  In addition to the two mysteries featuring Konrád, he is the author of more than eleven novels about Detective Erlendur, the Rekyjavik Wartime Mystery Series, and is the only author to win the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel two years in a row.  You can read about him at various sites on the internet.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

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