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Black Skies: An Inspector Erlendur Novel    by Arnaldur Indridason order for
Black Skies
by Arnaldur Indridason
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's another excellent Icelandic mystery from Arnaldur Indridason - Black Skies (translated by Victoria Cribb). But though it's billed as an Inspector Erlendur Novel Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson is missing in action throughout (last seen on his way to the East Fjords) just as in the previous episode, Outrage. We continue to wonder (as do his friends and colleagues) exactly what has happened to him.

Outrage put Erlendur's colleague Elinborg on center stage. In Black Skies, the often unlikeable Sigurdur Oli has his turn, and learns a great deal about himself in the process. As usual in this series, more than one case is followed. In one, the worm turns as a badly damaged man creates a death mask to deal out dire vengeance against an abuser - he changes Sigurdur's perspective on criminality along the way. In another, Sigurdur does his mother a favor by trying to find out who is stealing an elderly woman's newspaper - he receives little cooperation in several amusing episodes.

Sigurdur has been questioning his career choice lately and his life in general. He and Bergthora broke off their relationship, and she seems to be moving on, while he is having second thoughts. He's pulled into the main case in the novel when his old friend Patrekur asks Sigurdur to pressure a woman to stop blackmailing his wife's in-laws - seems they were involved in swingers' parties with another couple and were caught on camera. But when Sigurdur rings the doorbell of the alleged blackmailer, Lina, he finds her dying in a pool of blood.

Though a colleague suggests he has a conflict of interest, Sigurdur pursues the case and finds that everyone lies to him (including old friends). He suspects a debt collector battered Lina. Sigurdur finds links to glacier tours for corporate clients, to an Icelandic banker's death on one of them, and to money laundering. And he learns how Lina died. He closes quite a few cases in this episode and readers see him in a more sympathetic light - though rather rigid in his outlook, he does try to do the right thing.

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