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Voices: A Book Review

Updated on May 24, 2011

Voices by Arnaldur Indridason, translated by Bernard  Scudder and published by Picador is the third of the Reykjavik series featuring Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson.

Gudlauger Egilsson , Gulli, is a doorman at a major Reykjavik hotel. He is also a handyman and fills in to do odd jobs around the hotel. It is a few days before Christmas and he is to play Santa at the hotel’s staff party. He is late, and when he is sent for, he is found murdered.

Inspector Erlendur finds that Gulli has no friends on the staff, they don’t know anything about him, and seem to care less about his murder. Gulli’s father and sister give a similar reaction to the murder. As Erlender digs deeper into the case, he finds facts about the man’s childhood that makes him of a case currently on trial, and makes Erlender think of his own childhood.

This is a dark Scandinavian noir story, and even though it takes place during the holidays, there isn’t much Christmas cheer. It is like the landscape; dark, cold and gloomy. Erlendur plans to avoid Christmas. Erlendur’s daughter is an addict struggling to stay clean, and comes to tell him she’s depressed and having a hard time staying clean. He wants to spend Christmas with her.

This and Gulli’s story as a youth, Erlendur’s own story as a youth don’t make it a real cheerful book. Even so, I recommend it. It has a decent tale and defined characters that are a bit exaggerated in some cases. It is well written and the mystery moves along not as much by plot as by the characters.

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