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.