The Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason

0312340710.01._SY190_SCLZZZZZZZ_ The Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason

Translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder

Thomas Dunne Books, New York, 2006

Winner of the CWA Gold Dagger Award 2005

At a birthday party for an eight-year-old boy a medical student discovers a toddler chewing on a human bone.  The bone, a rib, was found at a construction site on the edge of the growing city of Reykjavik.  With this discovery Detective Inspector Erlender Sveinsson and his colleagues must solve a crime that is decades old.

Erlender has his own problems, his estranged daughter is gravely ill, and his colleagues are not always as helpful as they could be.  The detectives dig back into the 1940’s,  trying to find out who owned the land  and identify a 60-year-old corpse.

Within this well crafted crime drama Indridason draws  a devastating  portrait of domestic violence.   With clarity and compassion he tells of a mother’s loss of self at the hand of her abusive husband, and of her childrens suffering.  This is one of the most honest descriptions of an abusive relationship that I have read.  Irdridason is a master storyteller, weaving different times together in a graceful novel of love and heartbreak.

I am fascinated by all the crime fiction coming out of northern Europe.  I think Irdridason is one of the best in the bunch.  I look forward to reading his other novels.

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9 Comments

Filed under Mystery, Orbis Terrarum 2009, R.I.P. IV, Review

9 responses to “The Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason

  1. I would have to agree, the class of crime novels out of Europe are generally brilliant. I read a Polish one awhile back that was really complex. Damaged protagonists, decades-old crimes, and very dark. I am about to finish up Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and it is completely blowing me away. The interesting thing, I think, for me with these crime novels, is the setting. How can you go wrong with a setting like Reykjavik? Have you ever read Smilla’s Sense of Snow? I think that novel has the same setting (or something close). I’d highly recommend it.

  2. Sandy – I loved Smilla’s Sense of Snow. What is the name of the Polish crime novel? I’ll add it to my TBR list.

  3. The only Icelandic novel I’ve ever read was Bragi Olafsson’s The Pets. There’s a scene where a pair of hamsters gets coated with cement dust and the villain tries to wash it off by spraying them with the hose. According to Olafsson, this was based on a real-life incident.

    I too am curious as to the name of the Polish novel Sandy mentioned.

  4. Nice review Gavin. Can I use it for my next mini-review?

  5. Sure, Kerrie. Do I need to post it on your site?

  6. I’ve copied into a draft post Gavin. I won’t publish till about 26th of the month. Thanks.

  7. Who lets there toddler chew on a bone? Is the child being abused? Never mind. I will have to read it to find out I guess. I love British mysteries, but never tried Polish. Have to give it a try.

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