Sunday, September 17, 2023

Review: The Girl by the Bridge by Arnaldur Indridason

by Arnaldur Indridason
Release Date: May 2, 2023 
2023 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250892607
ASIN: B0B5JSHZNR (March23, 2023)
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

2 / 5 Stars

When a young woman known for drug smuggling goes missing, her elderly grandparents have no choice but to call the retired Detective Konrád.

Still looking for his own father's murderer, Konrád agrees to investigate the case.

But digging into the past reveals more than he set out to discover, and a strange connection to a little girl who drowned in the Reykjavík city pond decades ago recaptures everyone's attention.
My Thoughts
The Girl by the Bridge had a really good concept, but the execution left a lot to be desired. I would like to say a lot got left in translation, but I have read quite a few Nordic Noir as I enjoy them tremendously and the translators are typically fantastic, so I think it's actually the writing style as well as the actual plot. I did read this author is one of the top Scandinavian crime fiction authors, so maybe it was the translation? It's hard to say.
Konrad is a retired police detective and is quite content to enjoy his retirement, away from the hustle and bustle of crime and solving mysteries. When his neighbour approaches him to help locate his missing granddaughter, he doesn't really want to get involved, but becomes interested despite himself. But the author makes a big deal about his need to stay uninvolved, and for me, this crept into the story and into his personality as I didn't find his character enjoyable. While I don't mind introspection, his rambling inner monologue was repetitive and went on and on, interrupting the flow of the story and making a rather slow plot even slower as a result.  I know that this character had been a character in multiple books, but that doesn't change the fact that he rambled, his inner dialogue was rather annoying, and the author went for way too long about how uninterested he was in crime.
While I did think the plot was interesting, I also thought it was a victim of overkill. There were so many things happening the author didn't have a chance to really focus or highlight any one of them so it appeared to a rambling mess.  However, the descriptions of Reykjavik were excellent, and I really got a sense of the place that the author knows very well.  I enjoy reading books set in places that I know little about and like comparing the justice and legal systems as I find it fascinating.  So many tourists only see the beautiful spots and don't see the heartbreak and the struggles facing many Icelanders on a day-to-day basis so I appreciated learning more about that.  The bleak atmosphere was really perfect for this story. 
The Girl by the Bridge had a great atmosphere, showing the world the real Iceland and the struggles faced by the people who live there. While I don't mind a slow-burn story, this one struggled to pique my interest because the characters were rather shallow and one-dimensional, the plot was humdrum and pretty predictable and suffered from too much happening syndrome. In the end, the author needed to pick one or two story lines, developed them, and save the others for future books.