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Voices: A Reykjavik Murder Mystery    by Arnaldur Indridason order for
by Arnaldur Indrišason
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2008 (2006)
Hardcover, Softcover
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Detective Inspector Erlendur Sveninsson knows that Iceland has changed. Crimes have become more vicious and more brutal. That knowledge, though, does not adequately prepare him for what he finds at the crime scene in one of Iceland's most prestigious hotels.

A man dressed in a Santa Claus suit has been murdered. This long-time hotel employee and resident of a small room in the hotel's basement was killed with a knife-wound to the heart. Still grotesquely seated in his shabby room, the dead man's trousers are down about his ankles, and there is something unseemly about his appearance that seems to suggest interrupted intimacy at the time of his murder.

Erlendur's investigation into the sad Santa's sordid murder takes him deep into the dead man's past, into the faded glory of the man's solitary life, and into the well-hidden secrets that had apparently remained buried - perhaps - for more than twenty years. Hotel employees, hotel guests, and the dead man's family all become persons of interest in the Icelandic detective's relentless inquiries, and throughout the investigation, Erlendur and his small team of colleagues - Elinborg and Sigurdur Óli - must confront pernicious duplicity from the most surprising sources.

At the same time, while he pursues the person(s) responsible for the murderous attack on the man in the Santa suit, Erlendur must confront the agonies and disappointments of his own past. Christmas has not been a pleasant holiday for Erlendur for many years, and this Christmas - because of his past and present - promises to be one of his most challenging.

Voices - another of Arnaldur Indridason's superb Erlendur novels - is an eloquently written mystery of profound power and grace. Indridason has masterfully succeeded in a paradoxical fusion of sadness and joy, despair and hope, and wretchedness and beauty. I am convinced that no other mystery writer working today writes more effectively or brilliantly than this remarkable man from Iceland.

The bottom line is this: You simply must read all of Arnaldur Indridason's Erlendur mysteries: Jar City and Silence of the Grave (already available in the United States), and Voices (now available in the U.K. and Canada). And here is more good news: another English-language edition, The Draining Lake, will be available at the end of September 2008. I can hardly wait!

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