Voices by Arnaldur Indriðason

voicesVoices by Arnaldur Indriðason

Translated by Bernard Scudder


Originally published as Röddin, 2003


While he was waiting Erlendur looked at the souvenirs in the shop, sold at inflated prices: plates with pictures of Gullfoss and Geysir painted on them, a carved figurine of Thor with his hammer, key rings with fox fur, posters showing whale species off the Icelandic coast, a sealskin jacket that would set him back a month’s salary. He thought about buying a memento of this peculiar Tourist-Iceland that exists only in the minds of rich foreigners, but he couldn’t see anything cheap enough. p. 185

Voices takes place in a sort of version of Tourist-Iceland. Inspector Erlendur investigates the stabbing death of a hotel Santa Claus found in sordid circumstances in the basement of said hotel just before Christmas, which is peak tourist season. Erlendur takes up residence in the hotel for less than a week, but this is not a sort of locked-room mystery: there are too many people coming and going from the hotel and he’s pressured not to alarm the guests too much so the hotel is not on lockdown during the investigation.

Parallel to the murder investigation, Elinborg is handling a trial of suspected child abuse that she can’t avoid being affected by, and Erlendur remembers many more details about the disappearance of his younger brother, a story I was eager to read after the last installment in the series.

The story of the deceased Santa, a former child star on the brink of international fame as a pre-pubescent choirboy, was affecting in parts and a bit predictable in parts. I do admit the actual murderer was a surprise for me though. Elinborg’s case was more affecting and surprising to me.

This series is one of my favorites, and though this book didn’t affect me as much as Silence from the Grave, it was still a good story. Sometimes I actually get back to series I love more than once a year, and I’m so glad I did. It’s a reminder to me to spend less time on new releases and catch up on older books.

Other reviews appear in EuroCrime (Norman), The Game’s Afoot (Jose Ignacio), and Novel Heights (Suzi).

I bought my copy of the book.

14 thoughts on “Voices by Arnaldur Indriðason

  1. Rebecca – I think this is one of the best series out there. And part of the reason is the way the various plot threads of the stories are woven in. I also like the story arcs. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Thanks, Margot: I was blown away by Silence of the Grave and really, really liked this one as well: I don’t say that about too many authors. He does a great job having all the threads relate to each other as well.

  3. I really enjoyed the early books in this series but not so the more recent ones. For me they’ve lost focus a little, which is a shame, because they stood out from the usual.

    • Sorry to hear that: I hope I still have some good ones in the first half of the series to get to. Doesn’t Elinborg get her own novel at some point?

      • She does, but I don’t remember engaging with it particularly – I do like ensemble casts in my crime series, but Erlendur is the draw for me as a character.

  4. I have a lot of Scandinavian fiction that I haven’t read yet. Haven’t read anything by this author yet, and you make it sound very good. Maybe in 2015 I will get to the first book in the series.

    • Good luck, Tracy. It feels strange to be planning for 2015 already: the last few months have flown by. Hope you like the series. I’m a big, big fan.

  5. […] Ms. Wordopolis reviews an earlier book in Arnaldur Indridason’s Erlendur series, Voices. She finds it’s not the best in the bunch, but it’s still a favorite series. “It’s a reminder to me to spend less time on new releases and catch up on older books.” I’m so glad you feel that way! […]

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