So off to Iceland this last week courtesy of Arnaldur Indridason's Silence of the Grave which came highly recommended by Adele Geras, who else...pleeeeease Adele, would I rave about books like this all the time to make people read them?
Entitled a Reykjavik Murder Mystery I was truly hooked from the first line onwards
"He knew at once it was a human bone, when he took it from the baby who was sitting on the floor chewing it"
Somehow makes you want to know just a teensy bit more doesn't it? As first lines go it has to win prizes for dragging you in by the ears.
Next up the shallow grave is discovered on the building site and Erlendur is in there with his team solving the crime.
Adele assured me this was about real people living real lives and I can think of no better way to describe it.Lots of tragic stories made more tragic because it's so frigging cold all the time and the permo-semi-darkness just adds to the atmospherics. Surely the crime writer's gift of a geographical setting, much of the work already done.I wonder is it possible to write a blissfully happy book about such a place where they also have almost 24 hours of sunlight, or must they all be on the miserable side of depressing? It would be good to read some and I'm sure you'll tell me if they are out there, the search is on for happy Icelandic book.
There's a domestic violence thread that just keeps you helplessly turning the pages, the requisite red herrings to lead you to make false assumptions which you then instantly question, and it all ties up as the secrets are slowly revealed.
Erlandur is DCI Troubled if ever there was one, plenty of tangled family baggage to unpack a sock at a time and unusual socks at that; a comatose drug-using daughter for starters.
I struggled mildly with the pronunciation of the names until I opened another Icelandic acquisition by Halldor Laxness. This one was translated by dear old Magnus Magnusson and bless him he's put in one of those helpful vade mecum, A Dummies Guide to Talking Icelandic in the front.
Once you know what all the little inflections over the letters mean you too can sound the part and I'm getting quite fluent in an English Nordic-Terry Wogan sort of way, it's the 'o' as in 'note' that cracks it.Then of course I've been saying Indridason all wrong too and you've all been too polite to tell me, that funny second 'd' would seem to be a 'th' as in 'breathe' making it Indrithason but will stand corrected if any Icelanders or Helen Slavin drop by.Helen it would seem has gone the whole banana and is learning the language.
I have the rest of Arnaldur's books on the way (not from Those Bad Book People, it's the Great River this time) and thanks to everyone who has sent links, he's been a great discovery.While I'm 'oop North' I might as well drop in on Henning Mankell and Kerstin Ekman, any others in need of a visit?