[I am reading this series of books featuring the Icelandic detective Erlendur and his colleagues out of order. So, if you like what you see here, be warned and check up on the order if it bothers you.]
I think this is Indridason’s second published novel in the series, and in some ways you can tell; there are certain places where the writing is a little unpolished, a little raw, and the story moves along but with a slight rattle. However, perversely it may be that this edginess is perfect to match the dreadful story at the center of the book: one of prolonged, sustained, cruel and vindictive domestic physical and mental abuse. The author, if you will pardon the pun, pulls no punches in setting out this nasty and tragic series of events by way of retrospective retelling.
Alongside this, our police men and women are investigating the identity of bodies found in a shallow grave.
And Erlendur is having his own personal challenge, with the life of his daughter hanging by a thread, and his failed marriage hanging around him like a supercharged guilty conscience.
The author takes us into all these dark places, in a steady, understated fashion. The banality of souls falling apart in a world that is neither black nor white.
I admire the way the whole package is put together. The plot has its twists, but these points of fine detail are less important (and less impressive) than the very human canvas Indridason paints.
This comes across as all too real, all too likely, and all too sad and desperate. In short, thoughtful, articulate, and honest. It did make me wonder how much of Indridason’s life was popping out between the pages. Noir. Very noir. And very much recommended.