Thursday, November 5, 2009

Silence of the Grave

Silence of the Grave is the latest book I've read. It's the second in Arnaldur Indridason's Icelandic mysteries (following Jar City). Silence of the Grave is even better than Jar City, and I didn't think that was possible.

There are two storylines in this novel, and of course they eventually converge, but getting there is what keeps you turning pages. The first story takes place in the late 1930s/early 1940s, and the other is set in the present day. A skeleton is found buried near a new residential development in Reykjavik. Because it's buried in the dirt, with no coffin, an archaeologist is called in to help Inspector Erlendur and his co-workers uncover the body. While the archaeologist is painstakingly unearthing the skeleton, Erlendur goes about his investigation. The story shifts back and forth from the '40s to the present day.

The earlier story involves an abusive husband and father. It was so well written (and translated) that it was hard to read in places, but I toughed it out and I'm glad I did. At one point, I had to put the book down and go to another room. It happened to be the kitchen, where Richard was cooking dinner. I told him about the story, and I also told him he'd better be nice to me as I was ready to stab him in his sleep. That's how the story affected me. (I'm a great audience when it comes to reading.)

In the present-day story, Erlendur gets a cryptic phone call from his difficult, angry, drug-addicted, and pregnant daughter, Eva Lind. She says, "Dad. Help me," and then the call is cut off. He searches through the seamier parts of Reykjavik for her and finally finds her on the ground, unconscious and bleeding. He gets her to a hospital where she loses the baby and slips into a coma. The doctors tell him that he should talk to her, and while he finds little to say at first, he finally begins to tell her about the investigation and about his early life. He also talks about why he left her mother when Eva Lind was so young. It's Arnaldur's creative way to tell us lots about Erlendur.

The storylines finally come together and Erlendur finds out whose skeleton is buried in the dirt. During the investigation, the clues seem to lead in two completely different directions, and you don't know until the end whodunit.

Silence of the Grave is one of those novels that make me glad I learned to read. The story is compelling and the ending is satisfying. I no longer want to stab Richard in his sleep.

The next novel in the series is Voices. I'm looking forward to reading it.


Theresa said...

oh lord, first you read a book that makes you think about stabbing your husband while he sleeps, and now you're starting one called "Voices". Great. You fit right in here at work!

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading this book and I don't get who was Margret's real parents? Where was the hintin the book?


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