A body is found in a remote coastal village near the Icelandic town of Flatey, and Kjartan- a minor legal official – is dispatched to sort things out. The body is identified as an eminent Danish scholar of antiquities whose specialty is the Flatey manuscript, the cryptic text of which is shrouded mystery.
It appears the man died of exposure but not before spelling out a message with stones from the beach that may point to his murderer. The medieval manuscript, which contains a riddle that has never been solved, becomes the focus of the investigation as much as the corpse. Ingólfsson’s novel progresses slowly, which matches the lifestyle of the locals and atmosphere of the island, and is filled with rich ethnographic detail and history. Jeremy’s full review is here.