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Silence of the Grave (Reykjavik Murder Mysteries, No. 2) Paperback – August 21, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 336 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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 Reykjavík. 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Icelandic mysteries hit the U.S. ground running last year with the appearance of Indridason's outstanding Jar City. This equally fine follow-up returns to the theme of buried pain, with the action centering on the discovery of a human bone at a construction site near Reykjavik. Inspector Erlendur Sveinnson is on the case, but the trail, which leads back to World War II, has gone very cold indeed. Erlendur (Icelanders use first names) has a very personal reason for his abiding interest in missing persons, and that--combined with the fact that his drug-abusing daughter is in the hospital in a coma--opens the door for plenty of backstory regarding the detective's troubled history. With a narrative that jumps between the 1940s and the present--without giving away whodunit--the novel generates a sort of emotional claustrophobia, its characters trapped in a world where the pain of the past, though often submerged, is always with us. Indridason has definitely vaulted onto the A-list of Scandinavian crime authors. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312427328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312427320
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (336 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Linda Oskam on August 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
A corpse is found on a hill in the outskirts of Reykjavik. It looks like it has already been there for a long time, but the excavation goes terribly slow because a team of archaeologists is carrying out the work. In the meantime inspector Erlendur and his colleagues try to get a picture of what happened 50 to 70 years ago. Slowly but surely they find out the awful truth. In between the story line of the investigation, there is another storyline about a family consisting of a father, mother, 2 brothers and a handicapped sister. It soon becomes apparent that something horrible happened in the family and this is written down so vividly that I had to put down the book a few times because it nearly became too much. An in the meantime Erlendur's drugs-addicted daughter Eva Lind is in a coma and he finally finds the courage to tell her what he feels for her. In short, this is a wonderful, sensitive thriller with a lot of psychological insight, well-developed storylines and beautiful descriptions of the various characters.
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If you're a fan of crime fiction and well-plotted mysteries, and are on the lookout for a fresh new face in a crowded genre, then you'll be doing yourself a favor by trying Arnaldur Indridason and his captivating "Silence of the Grave".

Back from last year's "Jar City" is Erlendur Sveinsson, the jaded Reykjavik police detective plodding bitterly though a life of regrets. A skeleton is found while excavating a new housing project, quickly determined to be decades old, and assumed a murder victim. With a supporting cast of eccentric archeologists and his own quirky investigative team, Erlender gets to the bottom of a gut-wrenching tale of domestic violence and child abuse.

A word of warning - this is some tough material. Any idyllic views of a society tolerant to drug use may be shocked into sensibility with the author's unapologetic portrayal of life among the needles and crack vials. And Erlender is about as bleak a character as the barren Icelander setting in which he is cast - the subject matter adding to a general air of depression and despair. But this is powerful noir fiction, only heightened by the dark setting, as Indridason's prose captures the unique Scandinavian brand of fatalism. The mystery is tightly wound and fully engaging, taking more than a few twists along the way before reaching a cleverly poignant conclusion. In the end, a haunting tale of revenge with little redemption - a novel that you'll not easily forget. Clearly one of the year's best - don't miss it.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the second installment in Arnaldur Indridason's Detective Inspector Erlendur Svinssson series, and it definitely does, in my opinion, top "Jar City" -- the first book in the series. Evenly paced and highly suspenseful, it is no wonder that "Silence of the Grave" won the Golden Dagger Award. I certainly was riveted by this novel and (literally) read on relentlessly till the very last page.

When skeletal remains are discovered at the building site of a new housing estate, Detective Inspector Erlendur Svinsson and his team are called in to take charge of the case. The first thing the team must do is establish just how long the skeleton has lain buried, and then determine if this indeed a case of murder, or something else. And if certain members of Erlendur's team (Detective Sigurdur Oli in particular) aren't too sure why they're wasting so much time on a cold case, it is obvious that Erlendur holds to the belief that every suspicious death deserves an investigation, and that Erlendur at least feels that there is something suspicious about this mysterious burial. Elendur's quest to learn the truth will take him back to Iceland during W.W.II, and to the guilty secrets of two families in particular. This case will also lead him to reexamine on his own past and his own failed relationships with his ex-wife and his two children, and to wonder if it is not too late to repair the damage...

Arnadldue Indridason is a very gifted storyteller, and I have to thank both him and his brilliant translator, Bernard Scudder, for the 4 very pleasurable hours I spent reading "Silence of the Grave." The novel was evenly paced, taut and completely riveting.
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Format: Hardcover
As I write this 11/19/06 the film "Mýrin" (Tainted Blood, Jar City, Nordermoor) has just won 5 Eddas (the Nordic Oscar). I am normally niggardly with stars, 4 for my best liked, 5 for masterpieces, 3 for well liked. Last year Silence of the Grave won the Golden Dagger, the English Detective Stories' award. As I read it in the original version, I viewed mr. Scudder's translation at the same time. Indridason is not the best of stylists and Scudder sometimes betters him. I remember one sentence off hand."Erlendur veit ekkert í sinn haus" verbatim means "E. knows nothing into his head." I think most people would translate it "E does not have a clue" but Scudder renders it "Erlendur does not know his arse from his elbow." I can remember there were more instances like this, where Scudder lifts the text to a higher standard. I am not as critical as mr Klovsjö of Sweden (see his critique on amazon.co.uk) but I agree that the solution of the plot was a little thin and the main character's personal issues are a bit à la Martin Beck. Sjöwall / Wahlöö are obviously better writers though and must surely have won a golden dagger at some point. This depends on the translator though, and Bernard Scudder owns a big part in Indridason's golden dagger. I suggest that Icelandic readers read Scudder's translation, and everyone else, i.e. those who can read English.
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