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The police procedural has brought us no end of rumpled, lonely, depressive, dogged detectives, but, done well, there's always room for one more. Arnaldur Indridason's Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson series isn't just well done, its Icelandic setting makes it unique. The author has seen to it that Erlendur and the cases he investigates are haunted by the history, culture, and even geography of the island nation. Just as molten rock and steaming water course beneath the physical surface, so too does the past explode periodically through the emotional surfaces confronting Erlendur with his own personal failings and with he crimes of others.

In the first entry, Jar City (aka, Tainted Blood), the private drama revolves around the now drug-addicted daughter who Erlendur left behind , with her mother and brother, when he walked out of his unhappy marriage. Meanwhile, the public investigation concerns the unusually-tight gene pool of such a small, remote and homogeneous population.

The second entry, Silence of the Grave, reveals the source of Erlendur's darkness--an awful tragedy in his childhood. The crime centers around the Cold War base the Brits and Americans maintained in Iceland and its long term effects on the community.

It is with Voices though that Indridason really hits his stride. The voices of the title include not just those that call to Erlendur and his daughter, but those heard by an insane woman and the lost voice of a once famous boys' choir singer who is found murdered in a local hotel. The author brings them all together in a sorrowful song, but one that makes for satisfying reading.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A+)

  

Websites:

See also:

Arnaldur Indridason (6 books reviewed)
Mystery
Arnaldur Indridason Links:

    -Arnaldur Indridason (Icelandic Literature)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Arnaldur Indridason (IMDB)
    -Arnaldur Indriðason (Wikipedia)
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Arnaldur Indrdason (Random House)
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Arnaldur Indrdason (Picador USA)
    -AWARD: CWA Gold Dagger 2005
    -AWARD: Icelandic author wins crime writing prize (John Ezard, November 10, 2005 , The Guardian)
    -INTERVIEW: Doug Johnstone interviews Icelandic crime writer Arnaldur Indridason (Times of London)
    -PROFILE: Northern exposure : Nicholas Wroe interviews Arnaldur Indridason, whose macabre thrillers, starring his 'gloomy Scandinavian' inspector Erlendur, are not only hugely popular in his native Iceland, but a growing global success (Nicholas Wroe, June 17, 2006, The Guardian )
The crime fiction that first caught his eye (as it did for another global figure in crime writing, Martin Cruz Smith) came from Swedish Marxist husband-and-wife team Per Wahlöö and Maj Sjöwall, whose explicitly socially and politically aware Martin Beck novels were published in the 60s and 70s. "What I liked was that there were few fights or guns and all the action was in the characters. This was seemingly just the office life of a policeman doing a job, but it was fascinating."

Indridason's first book, Sons of Earth (1997), received a predictably tepid critical and commercial response. "One of the things they had against it was that the names were too Icelandic. A detective should be called Morse, or Taggart, or Rebus. Erlendur or [his colleagues] Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg just sounded wrong to them. Book two was the same. But then came Tainted Blood [published in 2000 in Iceland and in 2004 as his first book in English translation] and it all turned around. Suddenly all the Icelandic aspects of the books were praised."

He says he writes for an Icelandic readership "from an Icelandic perspective. I don't write for anyone else. So I was a little surprised that coming from Iceland seems to have added to the appeal for readers from abroad. It is a tremendous thrill that this tiny language can be spread." He has been published in more than 30 countries, and although his overseas readership is a few books behind Iceland, he is aware of raised expectations and new pressures. "The best way to follow success is to hold on to those initial reasons you decided to write. Ian Rankin said before visiting a new city you should read crime fiction from there. That way you find out what's happening. The crime story can be used in so many ways to say something about society. There was a huge debate in Iceland about a genetic data base. I used that but what really interested me, was that there are no secrets with DNA."

Indridason is aware he is now at a stage in his career where he could spend more time touring and talking about his books than writing. "I prefer to be at home working. I'm not like Salinger or Thomas Pynchon but I can see the appeal." And his long-term aim is a simple one: "I want to really understand Erlendur." Part of that process means understanding his father and Iceland's recent history. Over the past 60 years Iceland has been transformed from a poor, essentially peasant country to an extremely affluent modern society. It is a process that has not been without national and individual pain.

"My father was of the generation that moved to the city and he wrote about characters who had too. Erlendur comes from the country and never felt at home in the city. His domestic life is either difficult or just bleak. A good-looking man in his 30s with a happy home life and good at his job is a happy ending of a story, not a beginning. The study of family life lets you raise all kinds of questions." Indridason lives in Reykjavik with his wife and three children and says there are few other things so important in our lives, "and few that have so many possibilities in drama and humour. How can Erlendur deal with other people's family tragedies - usually lost people in every sense - but can't help himself? What makes him who he is? And I'm running out of time. They say 10 books is the limit for a character. After that you repeat yourself, learn nothing new and say nothing new. I'm not at 10 yet, but it's getting closer. I really don't know if I'll get there."

    -PROFILE: The Man Behind Jar City (Scandinavian Review, Spring 2006)
    - INTERVIEW: A Conversation with Arnaldur Indridason (Julia Spencer-Fleming)
    -PROFILE: "I am in seventh heaven," says mystery writer (Iceland Review, 11/09/05)
    -AUDIO: Nordic Writers Launch a Fictional Crime Wave (Steve Paulson , May 28, 2006, Weekend Edition Sunday )
    -PROFILE: Crime Fiction with an Icelandic Accent (Barbara Fister, Shots Mag)
    -ARCHIVES: Indridason (Iceland Review)
    -ARCHIVES: "Arnaldur Indridason" (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW: of Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason (Complete Review)
    -REVIEW: of Jar City (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Jar City (Jane Jakeman, The Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Jar City (Kara Kellar Bell, The New Review)
    -REVIEW: of Jar City (Sharon Wheeler, Reviewing the Evidence)
    -REVIEW: of Jar City (Bob Cornwell, Tangled Web)
    -REVIEW: of Jar City (Bruce Tierney, BookPage)
    -REVIEW: of Jart City (Derek Hill, Mystery Scene)
    -REVIEW: of Jar City (Theodore Feit, Spinetingler)
    -REVIEW: of Jar City (Glenn Harper, International Noir Fiction )
    -REVIEW: of Jar City (Ernest Lilley, Gumshoe Review)
    -REVIEW: of Jar City (Jennifer Jordan, Mystery One)
    -REVIEW: of Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Silence of the Grave (Karen Chisholm, Reviewing the Evidence)
    -REVIEW: of Silence of the Grave (Emma Hagestad, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Silence of the Grave (Theodore Feit, Spinetingler)
    -REVIEW: of Silence of the Grave (Ernest Lilley, Gumshoe Review)
    -REVIEW: of Silence of the Grave (The Occasional Review)
    -REVIEW: of Silence of the Grave (B. R. Myers, The Atlantic)
    -REVIEW: of VOICES by Arnaldur Indridason, translated by Bernard Scudder (Andrew Taylor, Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of Voices (Jane Jakeman, The Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Voices (Christopher Tayler, London Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Voices (Karen Meek, Reviewing the Evidence)
    -REVIEW: of Voices (Ali Karim, January Magazine)
    -REVIEW: of Voices (Crime Squad)
    -REVIEW: of Voices (Jim Webber, Waikato Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Maureen Corrigan, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Tom Nolan, WSJ)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Anthony Byrt, New Statesman)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Peter Guttridge, Guardian)
   
-REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Jack Batten, Toronto Star)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Maxine Clarke, EuroCrime)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Ali Karim, January Magazine)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Michael Carlson, Irresistible Targets)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Andy Plonka, Mystery Reader)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Joanna Hines, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Joan Smith, Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Sharon Wheeler, Reviewing the Evidence)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Jeff Baker, The Oregonian)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Cordelia Frances Biddle, Writers Are Readers)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake (Karen, AustCrime)
    -REVIEW: of The Draining Lake ()
    -REVIEW: of Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Arctic Chill (Joan Smith, Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of Arctic Chill (Emma Hagestadt, The Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Arctic Chill (Barry Forshaw, The Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Arctic Chill (Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir, Iceland Review)
    -REVIEW: of Arctic Chill (Robin Jarrosi, Suite 101)
    -REVIEW: of Arctic Chill (Glenn Harper, International Noir Fiction)
    -REVIEW: of Arctic Chill (Maxine Clarke, EuroCrime)
    -REVIEW: of Arctic Chill ()
    -REVIEW: of Arctic Chill ()

FILM:
    -FILM INFO: Mýrin (2006) (Imdb.com)
    -There is no Such Thing as a Safe Bet in Filmmaking ( Sveinn Birkir Björnsson, December 01, 2006, Reykjavik Grapevine)
    -Flirting with Hollywood (Hanna Björk Valsdóttir, Reykjavik.com)


GENERAL:
    -Reykjavik.com
    -Iceland Review
    -Visit Reykjavik
    -Reykjavik Grapevine
    -Reykjavik City Guide (World Travel Guide)

Book-related and General Links:

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