10.23.13

101 in 1001 {III}: 037 read three library books [completed 10.13.13]

III: OUTRAGE, ARNALDUR INDRIDASON. in some ways outrage, an icelandic thriller, seems hyperconscious of the nordic-crime-fiction juggernaut that is stieg larsson's millennium trilogy: the title refers to rape (the first of larsson's books was called men who hate women in swedish), and indriðason's leading man, crotchety old inspector erlendur, has gone on a vision quest in eastern iceland and left reykjavik's latest murder mystery to elínborg, a female member of the reykjavik police force (and a secondary character in indriðason's previous novels). in other, more important ways, it's like that episode of space ghost coast to coast where space ghost follows an ant for ten minutes: icelanders, bless their hearts, dance like there's nobody watching. witness a stakeout with elínborg outside edvard's house (edvard might or might not know who killed runólfur, a creepy guy found dead in his apartment in a tiny san francisco tee shirt):
The car was chilly but she did not want to keep the engine running and risk drawing attention to her presence. She was also reluctant to pollute the atmosphere more than necessary. She never left the engine running when the car was stationary - it was practically the only cast-iron rule she observed as a driver.
elínborg is as methodical as erlendur is erratic, and iceland's impeccable national databases and tiny population suit her style of police work perfectly: when one of runólfur's neighbors mentions she saw a man limp down the street in a leg brace on the night of the murder, she tracks down and interviews each and every male icelander of a certain age who had polio. she also finds a woman's scarf beneath runólfur's bed and notices that it smells like tandoori; alors, time to consult the one place in reykjavik that sells tandoori pots. this is a particularly lucky break, as elínborg knows it well.
Perhaps [the mystery woman] worked in a restaurant that served tandoori dishes. Elínborg knew something about tandoori cookery, and had even included some tandoori dishes in the cookery book that she had published. She had read up on tandoori cuisine and felt pretty well-informed about it. She owned two different clay tandoori pots. In India they would traditionally be heated in a pit filled with burning charcoal so that the meat was cooked evenly from all sides at a high temperature. Elínborg had occasionally buried a tandoori pot in her back garden in the authentic manner, but usually she put it in the oven or heated it over charcoal on an old barbecue. The crucial factor was the marinade, for which Elínborg used a combination of spices, blending them to taste with plain yoghurt. For a red colour she added ground annatto seed; for yellow, saffron. She generally experimented with a mixture of cayenne pepper, coriander, ginger and garlic, or with a garam masala that she made herself by using roasted or ground cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, garlic and black pepper, with a little nutmeg. She had also been trying out variations using Icelandic herbs such as wild thyme, angelica root, dandelion leaves and lovage. She would rub the marinade into the meat - chicken or pork - and leave it for several hours before it went into the tandoori pot. sometimes a little of the marinade would splash on the hot coals, bringing out more strongly the tangy tandoori fragrance that Elínborg had smelt on the shawl. She wondered if the woman they were looking for might have a job in Indian cookery. Or perhaps, like Elínborg, she was simply interested in Indian food, or even specifically in tandoori dishes. She too might have a tandoori pot in her kitchen, along with all the spices that made the dish so mouth-watering.
wild icelandic herbs in tandoori, by the by, are delicious; take it from me, i've been to austur-indíafjelagið twice.

like indriðason's novels which are not jar city (his first inspector erlendur book, far and away his best), outrage doesn't quite tweak the wrinkles in one's brain which blockbuster english-language murder-mystery-thrillers traditionally tweak: the pacing is all over the place, the translation thumps unexpectedly into potholes of british slang, and the case itself is of limited interest. then again, i've never really gone to them for that; i started showing up for a cheap iceland fix, and now that i've been to iceland a few times, i keep coming back for (the weird-ass dancing and) the little revelations of cultural character. halldór laxness's nobel-winning, majestic-as-shit independent people is a gorgeous way to think about icelanders, but one should leaven that impression with pop culture, i think. one should always leaven with pop.

6 comments:

east side bride said...

WHERE ARE MY DISCUSSION QUESTIONS?

lauren said...

01 what sort of cooties would one catch from an icelandic thriller borrowed from the library?
02 what's the northernmost indian restaurant at which you've had a meal?
03 how much food should one attempt to eat before going straight from work to a rock show?

east side bride said...

01 Wild ponies?
02 Vij (Vancouver, BC)
03 CANDY IS NOT DINNER, LAUREN

Anonymous said...

MDF said...

...the translation thumps unexpectedly into potholes of british slang...

Oh please, please. In the immortal word of Jules Winnfield: Example?

lauren said...

@MDF o heartbreak of library books! i returned outrage yesterday. i do recall that sweet elinborg was often a "copper."

LPC said...

01 Don't know but they'd smell like lovage.
02 Apparently the East Village.
03 Depends on the beat.