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Silence of the Grave

by Arnaldur Indridason

Library Journal: Led by Sweden's Henning Mankell (see below) and Norway's Karin Fossum, Scandinavian mystery writers have become increasingly popular in this country. In the second of an Icelandic series to be translated into English (the first was Jar City), Reykjavik detective Erlendur begins investigating the elderly inhabitants of an area after children find an old human skeleton partially uncovered at a building site. Concurrently, the author tells the story of a woman, horribly abused by her sadistic husband, and her three children living in fear of the father. Yet a third theme involves Erlendur's estranged daughter, drug-addicted and now pregnant, who thrusts herself back into his life. Like the long, cold Scandinavian winters, this novel features much darkness, yet as in the Icelandic sagas the author has studied, there is some hope amidst much pain and suffering. Ably translated, this title won the 2005 British Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger, a controversial choice that forced the CWA to create a separate category for mysteries in translation. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 6/1/06.]—RolandPerson, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale

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Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. In Indridason's excellent second mystery (after 2005's Jar City), a skeleton, buried for more than 50 years, is uncovered at a building site on the outskirts of Reykjavík. Who is it? How did he or she die? And was it murder? The police wonder, chief among them the tortured, introspective Inspector Erlendur, introduced in Jar City. While an archeologist excavates the burial site, several other narratives unfold: a horrifying story of domestic abuse set during WWII, a search for missing persons that unearths almost-forgotten family secrets involving some of the city's most prominent citizens, and Erlendur's own painful family story (his estranged, drug-addicted daughter is in a coma, after miscarrying her child). All these strands are compelling, but it's the story of the physical and psychological battering of a young mother of three by her husband that resonates most. And the denouement of this astonishingly vivid and subtle novel is unexpected and immensely satisfying. Indridason has won the CWA Golden Dagger Award.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms