Silence of the Grave (Reykjavik Thriller Series #2)

( 31 )

Overview

Downtrodden Detective Erlendur and his team must once again investigate Reykjavik's hidden past to unravel a case of human nastiness.

Construction work in an expanding Reykjavik uncovers a shallow grave. Years before, this part of the city was all open hills, and Erlendur and his team hope this is a typical Icelandic missing person scenario; perhaps someone once lost in the snow, who has lain peacefully buried for decades. But things are never that simple. While Erlendur ...

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Silence of the Grave (Reykjavik Thriller Series #2)

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Overview

Downtrodden Detective Erlendur and his team must once again investigate Reykjavik's hidden past to unravel a case of human nastiness.

Construction work in an expanding Reykjavik uncovers a shallow grave. Years before, this part of the city was all open hills, and Erlendur and his team hope this is a typical Icelandic missing person scenario; perhaps someone once lost in the snow, who has lain peacefully buried for decades. But things are never that simple. While Erlendur struggles to hold together the crumbling fragments of his own family, his case unearths many other tales of family pain.

The hills have more than one tragic story to tell: tales of failed relationships and heartbreak; of anger, domestic violence and fear; of family loyalty and family shame. Few people are still alive who can tell the story, but even secrets taken to the grave cannot remain hidden forever.

Alive with tension and atmosphere, and disturbingly real, this is an outstanding continuation of the Reykjavik Murder Mysteries.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
In Icelandic writer Arnaldur Indridason's follow-up to 2005's critically acclaimed Jar City, melancholic Reykjavik detective Erlendur investigates the remains of a decades-old skeleton found buried at a building site, even as his own personal life slowly unravels…

The story begins with a horrific scene: At a birthday party in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Reykjavik, amid the balloons and streamers, a baby is found gnawing on a human bone. Further investigation leads police to a nearby construction site where a new residential development is being built. As forensic scientists meticulously unearth the skeleton, police inspector Erlendur and his team try to unravel the 60-year-old mystery. Gruesome details surface about an Icelandic family that lived in a nearby chalet during WWII, as Erlendur faces his own tragedy. His estranged drug-addicted daughter, seven months pregnant, desperately reaches out to him for help…

To call Silence of the Grave (which won the British Crime Writers' Association's prestigious Golden Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of 2005) an emotionally charged novel would be an understatement. Indridason's dark, introspective prose mirrors the cold, bleak setting of Reykjavik, and the intimate exploration of numerous unsavory themes (domestic violence, drug addiction, etc.) will leave readers chilled to the bone. This top-notch psychological thriller is a masterfully plotted historical whodunit and, above all, a powerfully moving commentary concerning the cycles of violence in families. In a word: Unforgettable. Paul Goat Allen
Marilyn Stasio
With only two of his novels currently circulating in English translation, Arnaldur Indridason puts Iceland on the map as a major destination for enthusiasts of Nordic crime fiction. In Jar City, published last year, this commanding new voice drew us into the melancholy world of Erlendur Sveinsson, a Reykjavik police detective haunted by the forgotten victims of unsolved crimes. The author raises the same ghosts in Silence of the Grave, applying his austere style to a crime of such emotional breadth and sociological complexity that it acquires the sweep and consequence of epic storytelling.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
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 Reykjavik. 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. Author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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.]-Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The secret of a buried body reaches back generations to a grim murder. A birthday party comes to an abrupt halt when a baby is found gnawing on a human bone. After the infant's brother T-ti sheepishly reveals that he found the bone at a construction site down the street, stolid Reykjav'k police inspector Erlendur Sveinsson (Jar City, 2005) cordons off the area as a crime scene, to the chagrin of the builder. An archaeologist determines that the female corpse has been buried for at least 40 years. Erlendur dubs the case the Bones Mystery. Bitterly estranged from ex-wife Halld-ra, he learns that their drug-addicted daughter Eva Lind has landed in the hospital comatose and pregnant. When he's not tracking down elderly neighbors and relatives of former residents of the house with the buried body, Erlendur undertakes a bedside vigil with another comatose patient. The doctors instruct him to talk to Eva, and he digs deeper and deeper into his heart to come up with things to talk about. Erlendur's sidekicks, Sigurdur ili and El'nborg, also grapple with personal problems. Meanwhile, a man named Gr'mur is terrorizing his battered wife and her three children in a subplot that has its own connection to the Bones Mystery. This winner of the CWA Golden Dagger Award is a resonant psychological crime novel rich in unflinching observations about family relationships.
From the Publisher
"Here is a new voice that demands to be listened to."
—Reginald Hill

"Slow and complex, the novel builds to a moving conclusion."
Irish Times

''A writer worth seeking out.''
—Sunday Telegraph

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312427320
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 8/21/2007
  • Series: Reykjavik Thriller Series , #2
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 187,804
  • Product dimensions: 5.93 (w) x 8.19 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

ARNALDUR INDRIDASON was born in 1961, the son of an Icelandic author. Having worked for many years as a journalist and reviewer for an Icelandic newspaper, he began writing novels. He won the Nordic Crime Novel Award for Tainted Blood (originally published in the UK under the title Jar City) and, in the following year, for its sequel, Silence of the Grave. Tainted Blood is his first novel to be translated into English.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Crime novels often seem to have a social conscience. What aspects of society (human relationships, social stigmas, lifestyle choices etc.) are explored here, and what do you think this adds to the authenticity of the novel? To what extent are we intended to condemn, and to what extent to empathise with, the ills of society addressed?

2. Domestic violence is a harrowing subject. How does Indridason's decision to play out the disturbing scenes of the past in a narrative parallel to the police investigations add force to the story?

3. How do Erlender's personal problems compliment the investigation? Think about the same thing in other detective novels.

4. Think about the atmosphere, mood and style of this and any other Nordic crime novels you have read. What draws you to this kind of book? What are you looking for when choosing to read a crime novel?

5. Think about the themes of family and childhood in the book.

6. Think about the plot device of the red herring. How do the twists and turns alter your expectations as the story progresses?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 31 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    SILENCE OF THE GRAVE grabs reader by throat, does not let go!

    Arnaldur Indridason's SILENCE OF THE GRAVE is a welcome addition to the detective genre. The main character, Inspector Erlendur, a sad, lonely, driven, obsessed detective, compares favorably with such stalwarts as Ian Rankin's John Rebus, John Connelly's Harry Bosch, and Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander. Indridason shares with his fellow authors the ability to move beyond mere plot to strong, compelling characterization. In Erlendur's case, his failed marriage; his former wife, who feels visceral hatred for him; a daughter trapped in a web of drug dependency and bad choices; coupled with a lifestyle devoid of meaning and happiness, provide the spark that sets him apart from the conventional detective, making it virtually impossible for the reader to maintain anything resembling emotional distance. As the story plays out, Erlendur must balance his need to make sense of a vicious crime with his concern for his daughter, whose life hangs precariously between life and death. The book's story revolves around two bodies, one a child's, apparently killed around the time of the second world war. As Erlendur struggles to discover their identities and the meaning of the crime, the author creates a parallel story of a family trapped in a world of violence and hate, a story in its own way just as moving as Erlendur's. The conclusion, when the two stories merge in cataclysmic fashion, is as sharp and as satisfying as the rest of the story. It leaves the reader completely wrung out. An added bonus is the excellent translation from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder. This novel, by the way, is the second of four. All are excellent and highly recommended.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Recommended if you love thrillers!

    Someone gave me this book to read and I finished it in one day! Iteresting characters with twists and turns! Inspector Erlendur is fantastic and does not stop trying to find answers to a mystery of a body found in a grave. Takes place in Iceland... I have ordered his other books and am excited to read them!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A delightful police procedural

    On the outer perimeter of Reykjavik, Iceland, a construction crew uncovers the remains of a body. The corpse had been placed in this shallow grave over five decades ago when the area was undeveloped hills. Inspector Erlendur leads the investigation into the death of this identified male at the same time a forensic archeologist excavates the location to insure no other clues are damaged or lost.-------------- While Erlendur works on what is probably going to end up a cold case, he finds the investigation fascinating and enables him to avoid the domestic abuse cases that seem prevalent. Many prominent leaders would prefer past and present family violence ignored. Erlendur would like to do that as those cases eat at the cop perhaps because his drug addicted daughter remains in a coma following a miscarriage. However, the police or society will not be able to pretend that a brutal beating of a young woman did not occur.--------------- The subplots tie together to make a delightful police procedural that emphasizes the locale as much as the criminal activity. The crusty Inspector is a fine protagonist with woes caused by feelings of guilt as he fears her failed his daughter yet it is Iceland that holds the plot collectively as one strong story line. The abuse theme will haunt readers well after the tale is finished as Arnaldur Indritason provides a deep extremely well written Icelandic police procedural.---------------- Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    This is an Icelandic detective series

    For people that like more than a mystery but some culture information on places you have never been to then this is a series for you. It nice reading about other countries people and finding out that it is not just the US that has drug problems and crimes. It is also interesting reading about their justice system, how hard it is to know that criminals are basically released after a few days for stealing, drugs, etc. That it is a revolving door.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Good Read

    I am enjoying this series that takes place in Iceland. I would suggest you start with the first book, "Jar City" in the series. Things happen to the main character, Inspector Erlendur which carry into the next book. The cases are interesting and most books are under 300 pages. The only difficulty I have are some of the characters names are hard to pronunciate.

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  • Posted March 25, 2013

    Highly recommend.

    Loved this mystery and looking forward to reading more of his books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2012

    Highly recommended

    I like Indridason's novels very much. This is an early one, but very good. Nice surprise ending.

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