Operation Napoleon, by Arnaldur Indridason
Operation Napoleon is a stand-alone novel – that is, not one of the books in Indridason’s acclaimed series about Reykjavik detective Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson. It was actually the third novel written Arnaldur Indridason, and followed the first two of his Reykjavik Murder Mysteries.
Operation Napoleon is a thriller set in Iceland. It begins ominously with a German bomber on a clandestine mission in 1945, during the last months of the Second World War. But this is no ordinary mission. Strangely, senior American officers are traveling along with German officers in a joint operation of some kind. Then the plane – a large Junker – is caught in a storm over Iceland, and the plane crashes at the Vatnajökull glacier, Europe's largest glacier.
Before the rescue team could get there, the plane was completely buried on the glacier, as if it had been swallowed by the ice masses. A piece of the plane that was found, confirmed what witnesses stated, namely that the plane was German.
Obviously the plane carries a secret of some importance. Partly there is the strange fact that both Americans and Germans were aboard it. Partly the Americans secretly mount several attempts to find and rescue the plane from the base at Keflavik. Partly the Americans keep monitoring the glacier continuously – all the way up to 1999, when the action in the book takes place.
When a satellite image shows that the aircraft has surfaced again, due to shifting ice and melting on the glacier, a top-secret American military team is dispatched to salvage the wreck and bring it out of the country. The team is led by a brute named Ratoff, a master planner. However, this time his plan meets with unforeseen obstacles…
Operation Napoleon is a fast-paced thriller that is quite enjoyable. It has that certain something which makes Arnaldur Indridason such a great writer – and so it actually is a bit of a page turner. However, it is quite far from the best among Arnaldur Indridason‘s books. The plot is interesting with some neat twists, but the characters are a little too fantastic, quite one-dimensional, and the heroes/heroines much too lucky. Also, the book is quite unrealistic and a tad black and white in its outlook. Even so – it is an Indridason, and quite entertaining, especially if you suspend your disbelief and just sit down to enjoy!
Praise for Operation Napoleon:
“Gripping. . . . As political thrillers go, Operation Napoleon––its frozen secrets, ruthless killers, hapless victims and reluctant heroes––is about the best you can get.” — Telegraph-Journal
“Indriðason, one of the new breed of bestselling Scandinavian crime writers, has written another gripping thriller set in his native Iceland.” — The Peterborough Examiner
“Slick . . . and with enough chases to keep the reader turning the pages.” — The Independent