Operation Napoleon


English translation of Napóleonsskjölin.

Also published in English by Random House of Canda in Toronto 2010, Vintage Books in London 2011, Minotaur Books in New York 2011 and Picador in New York 2012.

From Operation Napoleon:

Central Reykjavík

Saturday 30 January, 1800 GMT

The two detectives who had inspected Kristín’s flat only the previous evening were now standing at the bar of the Irish pub. The area around the building was cordoned off with police tape; a crowd of curious bystanders had gathered in the darkness on the other side of the street, floodlights had been set up both inside and out, reporters and photographers were circling, desperate for a quote, and the premises were surrounded by police cars with flashing lights. Ripley and one of the fishermen had been admitted to hospital. Delicate, intricate flakes of snow were falling lazily, only to melt as they landed on the floodlights. The older detective removed his hat and scratched his head.

‘Like a spaghetti western,’ he remarked.

‘You were right about Kristín. She was here,’ the younger detective replied.’The witness statements match the picture we have of her.’

‘I’m not sure I’ve quite grasped this yet. There are at least four people with Kristín at the scene, three men and one woman. One of them, who the fishermen claim was American, is lying on the steps outside after being beaten to a pulp by our jolly jack tars. The other woman makes herself scarce. Another man, after trying to come to the aid of his companion, runs down Tryggvagata taking pot shots at Kristín and a third man. The gunman is American too, if the fishermen are to be believed. Kristín and her companion get into a jeep and drive away. The American on the steps has no ID. His car is parked outside and has plates registered to the Defense Force in Keflavík. What’s going on? You studied in America. You know the people. I’ve only seen the films.’

‘I can’t make head or tail of it, any more than you. Perhaps we’ll get some answers from the embassy.’

‘Inspired. The embassy will solve it. We’ll just talk to the embassy and they’ll clarify everything and then we can go home to bed.’

‘Is your indigestion troubling you again?’

The older police officer turned to look at his partner. His expression was oddly sad, despite the glint of mockery in his eyes under their red brows. His hair was red too; his face intelligent, stubborn, determined.

‘What? Am I not jolly enough for you?’ he asked sarcastically.

‘When have you ever?’