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The Hrafn Grímsson detective series – Synopsis


The Hrafn Grímsson detective series – a synopsis of four books, by Alexander Dan.

A few words about the protagonist, Hrafn Grímsson.

Hrafn Grímsson is intimate with death. He has watched it take his family, his unborn child and has faced it himself. To others he appears almost as a thing out of legend: two meters tall, with a permanent scowl and wiry red hair, wearing a rough leather coat that makes him less approachable than the Creature from the Black Lagoon. He is a detective, and a damn good one at that, much in part owing to what he calls his uncanny intuition. That’s only half the truth of it – Hrafn is clairvoyant and frequently sees the grim shadow of death before it approaches. This intimacy of death has saved his skin in the past, but it is not a gift he bears lightly. When it comes to people and his personal life, Hrafn can be as charming as a troll and as functional as a car with no steering wheel, but when it comes to solving a case he won‘t let go of it. Or rather, it won‘t let go of him.

Black Magic (Original title: Svarti Galdur)

Hrafn is a police officer with dreams of becoming a detective. It’s not that long since he graduated, but he has still grown tired of the mundane work of the street police officer. He and his partner, middle aged and grumpy Vigfús, enjoy a break in the routine when they are called to check out a skull that was left in an abandoned storage compartment. Hrafn finds odd books there, about mysticism and esoteric matters. The storage unit belonged to Guðmundur, nicknamed Mummi, a troubled young man who committed suicide recently. Hrafn takes one book for review – about hypnotism, marked with the name of Aron. Vigfús takes one as well, an old dictionary. That night, Hrafn forces himself to go out and watch a football game with his workmates. He can’t stand this kind of empty, casual socializing, but he knows that if he makes himself out to be a loner, he won’t ever make a detective. That night he sees an odd young man in the bathroom, looking like he was on drugs – like a zombie. With him were two men, all dressed in black. Hrafn thinks this odd – but not that extraordinary – and heads home early.

That night, a member of the Icelandic parliament is killed. He is stabbed to death, just outside of the parliament building. Hrafn is put on duty guarding the crime scene in the morning and realizes that the description of the murderer matches the man he saw the night before. He notifies Engilbert, a detective on the case, about it. Hrafn can’t go out hunting for the suspect however – he has to write a report about the skull they found. He starts googling Mummi, it’s owner, and finds old stories about him and a gang of rebellious anarchists, led by one Aron Beck. In the interview Aron spouts violent sermons about how society needs to be uprooted and the forces that govern us with tyranny destroyed. He also learns that Mummi was sexually abused as a child by a priest, Ingimar, during summer camp.

Hrafn manages to summon enough courage to ask out a girl he likes, a hairdresser named Bíbí. He takes her to a seedy bar he frequents, realizing that it’s not the classiest joint ever, and means to take her somewhere else. But as him and Bíbí chat for a bit, he sees that Engilbert is there as well, and spends the evening talking more to the detective about the murder case, rather than Bíbí. He learns that the suspect is a man named Gísli and that he was likely on drugs, ecstasy was found on him and chemical traces in his system. As Hrafn is talking to the detective, Bíbí eventually ditches him, leaving Hrafn distraught.

Something is bothering Hrafn. The murder suspect was completely out of it the night Hrafn saw him before the murder. The two men accompanying him were also out of place. He also finds out that the suspect is related to the priest who sexually abused Mummi, a coincidence he can’t seem to shake. Hrafn is sent to Iceland’s main prison to pick up the murder suspect. Hrafn decides to use the trip to visit Aron Beck, who is in jail, to return the book he found in Guðmundur’s storage and try to get some information. Aron is hostile to Hrafn, mocking him, almost playing with him. He doesn’t get anything solid from him, but he does notice that he keeps a plastic skull and a photo frame with a black mirror, a setup that is eeriely familiar to what he found in Mummi’s storage. Aron also mentions the dictionary that Vigfús took and claims it isn’t his – an strange detail to mention unprovoked. Hrafn is certain that Gísli was somehow hypnotized or manipulated while on butyric acid, and that Aron Beck and his associates are involved. Hrafn realizes that Vigfús was hiding something behind his back, and busts him as he’s selling ecstasy to a junkie, ecstasy that he found in Mummi’s hollow dictionary. Hrafn is furious about it, but also thrilled as these are the same types of ecstasy pills that were found on the suspect.

Hrafn gathers together what he’s learned so far and approaches Engilbert with the information. He’s pulled into a meeting with Axel, the chief detective. He tells them his theory, that Aron Beck’s gang of anarchists, which include Mummi and two other men he saw that night before the murder, drugged and hypnotized the suspect and made him commit the murder. He also has a theory that all this is part of a plan to attack the three main powers in society: the legislative, judicative and executive branch. His theory is that a judge will be targeted next, the one who put Aron Beck in prison. Axel decides to listen to his theory, although wild, and place a guard outside the judge’s home.

That night, a young woman named Sólrún goes out drinking with her friends. Two men dressed in black slip something into their drinks and drag Sólrún away as the drug takes hold. A while later, the police officers guarding the judge’s home don’t notice anything wrong when a very drunk girl gets out of a black car and heads into the house – hardly material for a brutal murderer. The judge lets her in as she knocks on his door, after which she brutally stabs him to death, screaming “die, pig!” as she guts him.

The next day Hrafn is again on guard duty at a crime scene, frustrated that his prediction was correct and not prevented. He says too much to a reporter that’s nosing around to vent out his frustration, letting it slip that they had figured out that the judge would be the next target, but still he was killed. As Hrafn’s prediction turned out to be spot-on, then he’s dragged into a meeting with Axel and Engilbert. They’re going to bring Aron Beck in for interrogation, and they need to find something solid. Hrafn is certain that Beck is running this, with help from his anarchist gang on the outside. They get the victims, Aron hypnotizes them through mobile phone and then the victim carries out the murder. Hrafn tries to find the other possession’s in Mummi’s storage, but they’ve been sent to a second-hand store. He manages to find a black mirror photoframe and an old picture in the second hand store, the  picture showing Mummi working in a meat processing plant, using the same kind of knives the murders have been carried out with. He starts ringing up butchers, and finds one of them is Aron Beck’s grandfather. He confirms that Aron stole everything, probably knives as well. Hrafn accidentally breaks the black mirror frame and in it finds a picture of Mummi as a child, in the summer camp where he was violated.

Hrafn heads out to the priest Ingimar and breaks into his home when nobody’s there, desperate for evidence or connections to the case. He finds pictures of each year of the summer camp, one of them has Aron Beck in it with Mummi, as well as others from the anarchist gang. This is where they all met, maybe they were all raped. Ingimar then comes home and Hrafn takes the picture, asking the outraged priest if he really wants him to come back with a warrant, searching his possessions and computer thoroughly. The condemned child molester keeps his mouth shut.

Aron’s interrogation doesn’t go too well. He turns every question on its head and quickly disarms Hrafn, despite his preparation. Hrafn has to retreat out of the interrogation room, where he finds the priest in the police station reception. It turns out the woman who carried out the murder, Sólrún, is his grand-daughter. He realizes that both suspects are related to the priest. Hrafn rushes back to the interrogation room, claiming that Aron is organizing these murders for revenge against the priest, to torture him, as well as causing turmoil in society. This small victory gets them somewhere, but the case is not nearly strong enough.

Hrafn feels pretty good about himself, but is crushed when the reporter he talked to uses that information to put Axel in a real tight spot on a live interview, even mentioning Hrafn’s name. The two men that Hrafn saw with Gísli turn themselves in, saying that they were at the sports bar the night before the first murder, but claim that they had nothing to do with it. Witnesses can’t point them out at the bar where Sólrún and her friends were drugged before the second murder, so this seems to be falling apart. Hrafn figures out that other members of the gang must be involved, and that their alibis are made up. He tries to reach Axel and Engilbert, but has no luck, as he’s certain that the third murder is coming up soon. He can only leave messages and hope they are received.

In the middle of all this, he has to go to a wedding with his lesbian friend. He’s off shift, after all, it’s the weekend and he isn’t detective – yet. He goes to the wedding with her, buying himself a last minute clothing –  a long, leather coat. Hrafn meets Bíbí at the wedding, who is there accompanying her friend as well. He summons the courage to talk to her and apologizes for his behavior, which she graciously accepts. They talk and feel a connection forming between them. He even opens up regarding his past, the family he lost in an avalanche, and the dark gift he has been given, being able to see shadows of death moments before someone passes away. That night, he stays at her place. His messages are eventually received by Axel, who sends out police to fetch the other gang members, who turn out to have false alibis. They don’t catch the other accomplices, but manage to prevent them from drugging another relative of the priest.

The next day, Hrafn gets a phone call. It’s from Orri, an ex-member of Aron Beck’s gang. He needs Hrafn to hide him, knowing he can trust him and only him. Orri heard that Hrafn prevented the ecstasy sale from going through and heard his name in the TV interview, knows that he is honest and that he figured out that the judge would be the next target beforehand. Orri meets Hrafn and says that Aron Beck is using hypnotism, mixed with the drugs, to astrally projecting himself into the victim, taking over the body and carrying out his bloody justice – he has mastered the black art of soul travel. The skull and black mirror are key to the ceremony succeeding. Hrafn still can’t reach Axel or Engilbert directly and Orri will not go to the police station. Hrafn has to hide him until he can grab a hold of Axel, so he decides to hide Orri at Bíbí’s place. The other two members of the gang, still on the loose, are sure to be hunting Orri down this very minute, as he knows too much and is wanted by the police.

Hrafn leaves Orri with Bíbí, who doesn’t like it, but is still willing to help him out. Orri goes out to buy cigarettes and is snatched up by the members of the gang. They force him to take the butyric acid and have him hypnotized by Aron Beck, through mobile phone. Bíbí calls Hrafn and tells him Orri is missing, so Hrafn decides to drive out to the prison where Aron Beck is kept and try to stop the soul travelling. When he arrives the prison guards refuse to help him, as he has no backup or any credentials. It’s late evening and no visitors are allowed. Just then, Hrafn gets a phone call. Aron has possessed Orri’s body and has Bíbí held at a knife point. “Be there in ten minutes, or I’ll cut her throat. That’s a promise,” Aron says to Hrafn. “I’ll be there – I’m closer than you think,” Hrafn replies. There’s no way he can make it back to Reykjavík in time. All that’s left to do is to break into the prison.

Hrafn steals a tractor and uses it to bulldoze the prison fence, setting off high alert alarms. He disarms a prison guard and holds another at gun point to get the keys to Aron’s cell. Meanwhile, Aron figures out that something is wrong and that Hrafn is at the prison. He tries to stab Bíbí, who dodges and fights for her life. Hrafn manages to get in to Aron’s ward and into his cell, where he sits entranced, deep in hypnotic state, controlling Orri’s body. Hrafn is tackled by guards before he can enter the cell, but he throws them off and uses his last bit of strength to kick Aron in the head. Orri goes limp, just before stabbing Bíbí, who then calls for the police.

Hrafn wakes up in the hospital. The charges against him were dropped, as Axel found out what happened and put the pieces af the puzzle together. Soul travel is a hard sell for a murder method in court, but there are several witnesses with the same version of the story. Aron’s crew immediately folded and cracked when they found out that he had been caught and is in a coma since Hrafn attacked him. Hrafn speaks with Orri, who is recovering after the ordeal, telling him not to be sorry, it wasn’t him doing this terrible violence. As he heads outside to where Bíbí is waiting for him, Axel meets up with him and offers him a position as detective. All seems to be well. But then Hrafn sees a dark shadow – an omen of death.

What happens to a spirit that can’t return to its body? Orri hears a voice. A familiar voice, in his head. Just as before, telling him to stare into the mirror, to take a journey with him. Orri tries not to listen, but he can’t resist. Aron’s hold is too strong on him.

Orri comes crashing down from a fifth floor window of the hospital, hitting the pavement with a sickening crack. Hrafn rushes to him, Axel at his side. Orri is still alive, but barely. Hrafn holds him in his arms, asking why he did this, what he was thinking?

“He’s gone. I’m free,” is all that Orri can say before his life fades away, cradled in Hrafn’s arms like a small child.

feigd-kapaShadow of Death (Original title: Feigd)

Hrafn is only a teenager. He is out at sea with his father, an engineer, and his father’s friend, the captain. It’s early spring, 1993, in remote northwest Iceland. They are there to sink the boat Hrafn’s father and the captain own. Their company is in debt, they will go bankrupt shortly. Only the insurance payout can keep them afloat, ironically.

Hrafn’s father starts the process and the boat starts sinking – fast. There isn’t much time. In a few hectic minutes they are in the lifeboat. The excitement has caused Hrafn’s asthma to flare up, but he left his medication on the boat. The attack gets worse, fast. Rescue won’t be here for some time. Hrafn will die. His father shakes his head and tells him to toughen up, but the captain heads to the boat to find the medication. Suddenly, the boat capsizes and sinks with the captain inside. Hrafn finds his inhaler in his pocket. This was the first time Hrafn faced death. But it was not the last.

In the following investigation Hrafn barely manages to keep their story together, only because the police detective on it cut him some slack. Hrafn is crushed with guilt, part of which is caused by his feelings towards María, the captain’s daughter.

Two years go by. Hrafn works in the local fish factory in Súðavík, a small fishing village. One night he decides to take an invitation to visit one of the women who work there. She’s married, but her husband is out at sea, and Hrafn can’t resist.

That same night a terrible winter storm rages, causing a devastating avalanche to run over the old part of Súðavík. Hrafn was safe with his lover, but his family lived in the old part of town. The entire village gathers up and waits for the rescue team. Nobody is equipped to deal with this, not physically or emotionally. Hrafn and María find a secluded spot to talk, to try to cope, and end up desperately making love, seeking solace in each other. As the rescue team arrives, Hrafn heads out with them, dead set to dig up his family as fast as he can.

That summer, Hrafn lives alone in Súðavík. His entire family is dead – gone, just like that. He still works in the fish factory. He’s used part of the money he received for the disaster, the destroyed house his family owned, to buy a muscle car. The rest he seems to want to spend on drinking, which he does. His relationship with María is dysfunctional and stormy. They’re both too young to lose so much.

During a night of drinking and driving, him and María go too far. They speed along the road, daring death to face them head-on. As Hrafn spins donuts on the docks, shredding his tires, he loses control and crashes into the ocean. He just about manages to pull María out, who resists him. She wants to die. A group of people are gathered at the docks and get them out. They escaped with their lives, barely. Something María will never forgive Hrafn for. The next day she leaves him for an older man, a tough drug dealer in the nearby town. He beats Hrafn up when he shows up to talk to her. His name is Símon Örn Rekoja.

October 2008. Hrafn is a detective for the police. His wife, Bíbí, is pregnant and their relationship is strained. He drinks quite a bit, while working, even while driving. He heads out to Iceland’s largest prison with his partner, Þóra. The reason: Today marks the date of Símon’s release. Just as Hrafn has grown into a tough detective, Símon has become a full-fledged gangster. Tall and muscular, Rekoja is like a rhino in a track suit. Brutal, ruthless and fearless. Hrafn is not supposed to be there, if he’s seen then it could mean harassment charges from Símon. Hrafn is a little bit obsessed with him, but for a good reason, he tells himself. After Símon is gone Hrafn heads into the jail to inspect his cell. Hidden in a porn mag, he finds what he’s looking for: a Colombian phone number.

Símon has been visiting Colombia, along with his fiancee, María. To Hrafn’s frustration they are still an item. Hrafn finds out that a Colombian drug-lord, Angel Castella, is visiting Símon in Reykjavík soon. He’s certain that a cocaine deal is going down, so he acts fast. He rushes in to the hotel where Angel and Símon are meeting, SWAT team and the works, but nothing is to be found. No drugs – nothing. María is caught elsewhere with a large sum of cash in hand, but that alone proves nothing.

Hrafn is crushed. He was utterly defeated and somehow, outsmarted by Símon who knew he’d be obsessed and that he’d find the phone number. Something went down. But what? Hrafn starts drinking, ignoring Bíbí and sabotaging their relationship. One night he is drinking and driving when he sees Símon’s car, which he starts to follow. Símon leads him into the middle of nowhere and Hrafn follows on foot in the dark. Suddenly he is attacked, stabbed with a knife in the back by an unseen assailant and left to die. He is luckily found by a jogger and rushed to the hospital. At the hospital he finds Bíbí, who miscarried from all the stress and fear Hrafn’s attack and brush with death caused.

Hrafn has moved home to the Westfjords with Bíbí. He’s working on fixing up a boat – still secretly drinking every day – when Þóra visits. She tries to push him into rejoining the force. He wants nothing to do with it. Hrafn has odd dreams every night. Something isn’t right. Then something clicks – María is pregnant. It’s either Angel Castella’s baby or he is paying to keep it. That’s why María and Símon visited Colombia earlier, to establish the deal and tie the two crime syndicates together. María must be due soon. Hrafn calls Þóra, who manages to find out they are leaving to Flórída the same day Hrafn figures this out. He must stop them. He steals his old muscle car, which local oddball in Súðavík had been secretly fixing up, and races hundreds of kilometers to Reykjavík.

He arrives at the terminal. Neither of them are checked in. The flight departs and he goes to seek contact with Símon. Turns out Símon is agitated and is looking for someone. They meet at a remote spot. Símon is looking for María, who disappeared on him. He is in a cocaine-haze, certain that Hrafn is behind this. They face off, Símon with a baseball bat and Hrafn with a rifle. The gun jams and Símon beats him up, Hrafn only barely managing to stab him in the chest with a screw driver. Símon stumbles away and drives off, only to crash and burn his car.

Hrafn realizes that María is heading home – to the Westfjords, to Súðavík. She wants to drown herself in the sea as she almost did, many years ago. He drives all the way back, just missing her by a few minutes. The car is in the ocean. He dives after her and pulls her out. María dies but the child, a boy, lives. Hrafn and Bíbí work out some of their issues and adopt him.

– Available in french: Présages

husid-kapaThe House Where Evil Sleeps (original title: Husid)

Theódór B. Unnarsson dreams of a man with a hammer. It’s a recurring dream, one he doesn’t understand. As a child something happened to his family, but he has no idea what. He now has a family of his own: a son, younger daughter and Anna Björg, his wife. Every day he goes through their mail, hiding the invoices and legal threats from Anna Björg. Lie upon lie shroud Theódór, covering every facet of his life and person. Behind those layers of deceit hides a gaping void of apathy.

1979 – the night before Christmas Eve. Haraldur, a young medical student is heading from Reykjavík to meet his family for the holidays. The moon is full and the night pitch black. As he is driving in Kollafjörður he is almost run over by a Ford Bronco, driving madly towards him. Then, in the distance, Haraldur sees a flickering flame. A fire. He stops at a nearby farm and informs the old couple living there, who suspect it might be at Mógilsá farm. They head to the farm and Haraldur puts out the flame, finding a horribly burnt, grotesque corpse of a man. Haraldur sprints out in fear and drives off. He comes across a couple that are out for a walk, and manages to tell them about a fire and a deceased man. As they are talking a Bronco jeep comes along the road and stops to see what the problem is. The headlights cast their light on the woods and a young boy slowly walking towards them. He is pale, his face bloody and covered with soot, ugly burn scars on his body. The man in the Bronco, Ásbjörn, knows the boy. It is Theódór Bjarnason, the son of his brother at Mógilsá. Something terrible must have happened.

1999 – Theódór harasses Anna Björg at the salon where she works. She doesn’t want to be with him anymore. She is scared of him. He is forced to leave, but waits in his car outside of the salon. Theódór knows how distressed and anxious she is. Cooly, without a hint of empathy or emotion, he blows the horn on his car as he is stopped behind her on a red light. As he knew she would, Anna panics and starts driving forward, straight into a speeding car. Afterwards, Theódór visits her in the hospital. She is terribly injured after the near-lethal crash. Her work friends had left her flowers with a gift card for a session with a fortuneteller. Making note of this, Theódór acts apologetic and tells her he will not interfere with her, that he will stay out of her life. He then goes to meet the fortuneteller, coaxing her into saying certain things to a woman that will come visit her soon with a gift card.

2007 – Theódór makes his living working as a security officer. He steals from clients without blinking. One night he comes across a store where the manager is accusing a teenager for stealing. Theódór apprehends and injures the kid, deciding to leave as the situation escalades. He drives out of the city to clear his head. As he enters Kollafjörður, something seems familiar to him, something buried deep in the back of his mind. He’s pulled out of his reverie by an alarm call in his neighbourhood, so he heads back to the city. The next day he is brought in for a meeting at Securitas and fired. The boy, who wasn’t even stealing, is seriously injured and pressing charges. Furthermore, Theódór showed up way too late because he went out of the city. All of this caused his boss to check on Theódór’s credentials and previous work experience, all of which were lies. Theódór smirks and says that he’ll head straight to his friend at the newspaper with a story about how the company hires unqualified people – who steal equipment, keys and items from the company and its clients – if he doesn’t get the full severance package.

Hrafn is wrapping up a case when he’s interrupted by a nosy reporter, Mikael. Mikael is an infamous snoop, but this time the coverage benefits the financially starved police. Hrafn meets Theódór when the latter is brought in for questioning because he attacked the boy. Everything about how Theódór acts is off to Hrafn. He nods when he says no, gives odd and misleading answers. Theódór steals an official envelope off Hrafn’s desk when he isn’t looking. He is unemployed and in severe debt. The deceit must be kept ongoing. When he arrives home Theódór goes through the mail, as usual, throwing away letters threatening legal action because of overdue payments. He meets the cashier of his apartment building, he’s overdue on payments. He lies and tells him not to worry about it, that he’s getting a big bonus soon. Theódór puts junk mail into the envelope he stole from Hrafn and addresses it to himself, marked as strictly confidential. He lies to Anna Björg, as she goes through the mail he brought in, that it must be the results from his application. He tells her that he’s hired as an undercover officer for internal affairs. It must be an absolute secret, and he reports directly to Detective Hrafn Grímsson. Later, as he is heading out, he’s stopped by the cashier for the apartment building. Turns out he’s looking for a replacement and thought Theódór could carry the weight for a while. When Theódór learns that it has more than 1.5 million krónur in the account, he accepts the responsibility.

1981 – Theódór is in foster care at a farm in the country. The farmer and his wife are strict and religious. He is alone and doesn’t understand himself, or what happened to his family. He feels he is different from others, but has no comprehension of why or how. New boys arrive at the farm – Mikael and Lárus. Mikael gives Theódór candy and asks him to be his friend, to protect him from Lárus, who is older than them. But when Lárus attacks Theódór and attempts to rape him Theódór bribes him with the key to Mikael’s bedroom. The foster parents act as if nothing is amiss. Lárus rapes Mikael every night. Theódór knows Mikael is angry at him and says he wants to help, asks if he wants to get rid of Lárus. “Will we then be friends?” he asks Mikael. “Always? Me and you? Forever?” Mikael looks away, his face set, fists clenched. Then he nods. The next time the farmer heads out to town, Theódór lures Lárus away from the farm and bashes his head in with a hammer.

In 2007, Theódór meets a real-estate agent at the house in Kollafjörður he found. The house at Mógilsá. He likes it, derelict as it is after years of neglect, but the owner refuses his offer when he finds out who wants to buy it. Theódór seeks out the owner at his home. It is Ásbjörn, a retired police officer in his sixties. Theódór demands answers and Ásbjörn lets him in, says that they need to talk. Ásbjörn takes him to his study, secretly keeping a tape recorder running and a pistol within reach. He shows Theódór a scrapbook, filled with articles about the 1979 murders in Kollafjörður. The family was murdered by the father, their heads caved in, but he died in the fire. Theódór was the only survivor. But something is wrong. The man in Theódór’s dreams – he doesn’t look like his father in the old photographs. He looks like Ásbjörn, all those years ago. Theódór accuses Ásbjörn of having killed his family and pinned it on his father. Ásbjörn refuses – but admits to being the man with the hammer.

Later, after the meeting with Ásbjörn, Theódór uses rat poison to kill Ásbjörn’s large, intimidating dog. Ásbjörn suspects who did this, and sends a letter with the cassette to a reporter – Mikael. Unfortunately the letter is sent to an old address, and it will stay there for weeks. Theódór breaks into Ásbjörn’s apartment, forcing whiskey down his throat and throwing him down the stairs.

Hrafn keeps on messing up his relationship with Bíbí. He shows up drunk to dinner parties, spills out inappropriate things in polite conversation, shows no effort or ambition to being decent or supportive towards Bíbí. Finally she can’t take the abuse any more and leaves him.

It is Hrafn who is called to the scene when Ásbjörn is found deceased. They believe the cause of death to be an accident. Hrafn finds a letter, that almost reads like a suicide note, detailing how Ásbjörn wants to redeem the name of his innocent brother and help Theódór get his due. Theódór inherits the house in Kollafjörður, a change in the will that happened just a few days before Ásbjörn died. Hrafn recognizes Theódór and looks into the matter. Everything seems to check off, but Hrafn has a feeling something isn’t right here. He calls Theódór in for questioning, asks him about the incident in 1999 when his wife charged him for assault, which was later withdrawn. Nothing much comes from the questioning.

Theódór moves his family to Kollafjörður. He steals from the apartment building fund to pay for fixing the house. Hrafn gets his act together, stops drinking. He proposes to Bíbí, who says yes. He checks on Theódór’s wife, who misunderstands his visit as being about Theódór’s secret work with Hrafn.

Finally, late in December, the postman figures out the mistake in delivering the letter and gets it to Mikael. He reads the letter and learns that it was Theódór who murdered his family, all those years ago. Ásbjörn found him at the scene and was so angry he beat him with the hammer Theódór used to kill his family. Ásbjörn misled the investigation to conclude that Theódór’s father did it, and he put the boy in foster care. Around this time Anna Björg figures out that the letter was fake when she finds it while unpacking. Theódór finds out and is absolutely furious.

The night before Christmas Eve. Mikael tries to reach Hrafn, to tell him what he’s learned, but he can’t get to him. Hrafn is forced to conclude that Ásbjörn’s death was circumstantial. Still, he has a bad feeling – and decides to head to Kollafjörður, which Mikael does on his own as well. That same night, Theódór snaps. His family hide and try to fight him off as he becomes homicidal, hammer in hand. Hrafn enters their home and confronts Theódór, allowing for his family to escape outside to hide with Mikael. A brutal fight ensues between Theódór and Hrafn, finally ending with Hrafn managing to set the sociopath on fire and barely escape in one piece. Theódór burns down with his house.

grimmd-kapaCruelty (original title: Grimmd)

Sandra is making a run for it with her infant girl from her abusive husband, Einar Logi. He is a porn producer in Denmark, using underage girls for his movies. Sandra is running away from abuse, drugs and violence after spending some time at a women’s shelter in Copenhagen. She is deathly afraid of him, but still summons the courage to head back home to her wealthy parents in Iceland. Still, she knows he will not let her or their daughter go.

William Smári Clover is a small-time criminal that has a plan to make it big. He is bald, except for a few, long dreads at the back of his head, frequently wearing a leather outfit, shades and riding his motorcycle. He’s dating a stripper, Ieva, and is going to use their fund as seed money for his plan to make a big profit to get out of Iceland and live the good life.

Smári is a lone wolf, he is not allied with any one gang. This he intends to use to his advantage, by dealing with everyone and making a profit on the way. He buys a kilo of hash from S-Crew, an Asian gang in Reykjavík. He only has money for half but says he’ll pay them the rest before midnight. He heads to Ragnar, his friend who’s brother won big-time in the lottery, to sell it to him. But Ragnar only has half, so Smári demands the rest before midnight. On the way back, Smári is chased by two bikers marked with MC ICELAND, a club belonging to Hell’s Angels. He owes their leaders money – the SS-brothers, Sigurður and Stefán. He meets up with them and says he’ll pay them back, but they threaten to kill him if he doesn’t give them the entire sum Ragnar handed to him. Smári negotiates that he’ll pay them an even greater sum in uncut coke tonight, which they reluctantly agree to. Smári heads to Snafu, a gang of brutish, steroid jocks, to buy the coke. But when Smári says he doesn’t have the entire sum to pay for the coke and wants them to wait, they get pissed off. Smári, feeling cornered and threatened, pulls a gun on them and robs them, without really intending to. Rushing back on his motorcycle, being chased by Snafu on their BMW, Smári doesn’t notice the police patrol car before it’s too late. He tries to ditch them, as he’s carrying a quarter kilo of cocaine, a million in cash and an illegal pistol. He loses control of his bike and crashes, ruining the bag of coke and losing the satchel. He manages to get away into hiding, with no money and no bridge unburned.

Later, Smári has arranged a meeting with S-Crew to get their money back. Plan is to rob Ragnar’s brother, the lottery winner. S-Crew betray him and hand him over to Snafu. They undress him, chop off his dreadlocks, beat and torture him to near-death. Later that night they toss Smári out into the lava fields, wrapped in a tarp, leaving him out to die.

Smári’s parents were drug users. They mistreated him at every turn, throwing him out at Christmas, burning him with cigarettes. He found himself under the protective wing of a wealthy but lonely housewife nearby, Inga. She took care of him sometimes, when times were tough. Inga’s friendship with Smári was a secret to everyone, including Inga’s daughter: Sandra.

The first thing Einar Logi does when he lands in Iceland is to meet a lawyer. He’s dressed up, looking good and playing the role of the sorry, worried father without fault. He’s worried about his daughter, and Sandra – who he claims to be a drug user. At every turn he is one step ahead of Sandra, making sure that the powers that be are on his side and believe her to be an unstable addict.

Sandra is a wreck. She is suffering from severe anxiety now that Einar Logi is here. She meets the family’s lawyer, who is an incompetent older man who doesn’t really care about Sandra’s plight. Einar has made demands – he wants to see his daughter. Sandra is certain that he will snatch her, but she is advised to be a team player as it will make her case stronger. Sandra is not the only one suffering from issues with children, the two detectives are also struggling. Hrafn is raising his adopted son with Bíbí, who is proving to be exceptionally difficult and putting a strain on their marriage. Þóra is trying to have a child with her girlfriend, Helga, which is not going well since Þóra recently miscarried. Helga is pressuring her into trying again, which she is not sure she wants.

Smári wakes up in the wilderness, aching terribly and barely able to move. He manages to stumble towards civilization where he breaks into a house. He showers, tends to his terrible wounds, steals some old clothes, hides in the garage and sleeps for the entire day. When he wakes up in the middle of the night he steals the car of the family living there and heads to Snafu’s house. They are having a party, celebrating. By keeping a low profile he manages to sneak upstairs where he finds Snafu’s leader, Þorri, with Smári’s girlfriend, Ieva. Þorri is bragging about how they robbed Ragnar’s brother for 10 million krónur’s worth when Smári walks in. Þorri is terrified – like he’s seen the living dead, and Smári stabs him in the chest and throat, leaving him to bleed to death. In the ensuing chaos he steals Snafu’s car, the BMW, and in it finds a bag with more than 10 million cash.

Hrafn gets the call for Þorri’s assault and heads out, leaving Bíbí with a raging toddler. He questions Ieva about the attack, who identifies the attacker as Smári. Hrafn raids the apartment he and Ieva shared – nothing. The BMW is then found at a parking spot by Reykjavík airport. Hrafn can’t put together why the car was left there, where Smári was going. Smári is hiding in a derelict house not far from the airport. It’s where he grew up. He is absolutely exhausted, he needs nursing and rest. He heads across the street to an expansive house, where Inga has lived since he was a boy.

Einar Logi meets up with his lawyer, Hjörtur. He’s got permission to meet his daughter for two hours. Hjörtur knows he’s up to something and asks Einar to help him so he can assist. Einar Logi plans to take the girl home to Denmark – then Sandra will shortly follow. Hjörtur feels this is a good idea and helps him as he can. When Einar gets to meet the child, he manages to get away with it. Þóra gets the call for a kidnapping and meets with Sandra, Inga and their family. As she is interviewing them she gets another call, claiming that this is not a kidnapping as the infant is with her father, who has shared custody. There is no case, as far as the police is concerned. Þóra does not agree. She doesn’t tell Sandra, but keeps on investigating the case. Her boss tells her to back off, he’s heard from the father’s lawyer that everything is fine. This strikes Þóra as odd, and it turns out her boss and Hjörtur go way back. The old boys’ club nepotism infuriates her and she keeps at it, next contacting child protection services. They have also heard from Hjörtur and believe that Sandra is a drug addict who can’t even breast feed the infant as she is using. This is not a problem to them.

Einar Logi drives out into the country to his aunt. When the infant cries, he soothes it with medication. He has a revolver that Hjörtur gave to him. Þóra is certain that the girl will die if she isn’t fed properly. She wants a drug test to disprove Hjörtur’s lies about Sandra and force Einar to hand the baby over. She pushes Sandra’s lawyer into action, seeks out everyone for help. She manages to get the drug test done, but Sandra and her family learn that the police aren’t actually investigating this, just Þóra on her own.

At this point, Smári, who has been recovering under Inga’s care, asks the family what he can do. Sandra’s father is furious, as Smári is wanted throughout the country for serious assault. Smári demands to help and heads out to find Hjörtur when he has enough information. Smári breaks into Hjörtur’s place and brutally attacks him, demanding answers. Hjörtur breaks and Smári steals the lawyer’s jeep, in which he finds cocaine and an illegal shotgun. He’s certain that Hjörtur will not report it stolen any time soon. As he heads out of town he’s spotted by a toll gate and Hrafn starts pursuing him. He drives far ahead and waits for Smári to pass him by. Turns out, he’s not the only one hunting Smári. Snafu have a price out on his head and they, as well as MC ICELAND, want to make him suffer. As Hrafn spots Smári then MC and Snafu move in for the attack, leading to an all-out brawl between Hrafn, Snafu and MC. Smári manages to get away by stealing MC ICELAND’s van.

Einar Logi is not taking care of the infant, which is losing its strength rapidly. He is becoming undone himself from desperation. Smári knows Einar is heading north, to Akureyri. Þóra manages to find that out as well, and that Einar Logi has a flight ticket from Akureyri to Copenhagen. She needs permission from child protective services to interfere. She tricks her boss into writing a letter that clears the police of all responsibility for the girl’s life, and uses that as leverage to get child protective services to interfere, as it will be blood on their hands should the worst come to worst.

Hrafn stalks around Akureyri, looking for Smári. At home, Bíbí is losing it taking care of the child by herself. The stress weighs heavily on Hrafn, who is not handling it well. He finds Smári in a restroom at a mall, where he appears to have bought some clothes for a disguise. Smári pulls a gun on Hrafn and tells him to give him time to save the girl, he will turn himself in after that. Hrafn has a heart attack right then, Smári rings for help just before he leaves.

Þóra has the backup she needs, but Einar Logi is not on board the plane to Copenhagen. She realizes, all too late, that earlier that day a private plane flew to Copenhagen – registered to Einar’s company in Denmark. All seems to be lost.

Moments before, when Einar Logi was at the airport car park to catch his flight, he is stopped by a strange woman who pulls a gun on him. It is Smári, in disguise, who shoots and kills Einar Logi without blinking. He takes the baby girl to a nearby local mother, and asks her to please breastfeed the child, which is obviously close to death from starvation. Smári heads out of Akureyri and runs into a police road block, which he crashes into at full speed, dying in the process. The child is found, her and Sandra are safe at last. Some time later, Sandra heads into the derelict house across from hers, where Smári grew up. Where he kept the millions he stole.

– Available in swedish: Grymhet

Future titles, starring Hrafn Grímsson:

Black Magic – 2016
World Coming Down – approx. 2019
From Beyond the Grave – approx. 2020