Feb 8, 2009


Voices, by Arnaldur Indridason. Translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder. New York: St. Martins, 2006. (Original published in 2003.) 313 pgs.

I am rating this three puffins--for genre fiction--but it isn't one of the best mysteries I've read. With the exception of flashbacks, the entire book takes place in a hotel in Reykjavik at Christmastime, which gives it a claustrophobic feel. Erlendur, Indridason's emotionally damaged detective, continues to develop, ever so slowly, and we learn a bit more about his past. This book incorporates several plot lines: the murdered hotel doorman, who was once a choirboy child star; a case of child abuse that Erlender's associate is investigating; and Erlendur himself: the effect that events of his childhood have had on him as an adult and as a parent.

Translator Bernard Scudder is a pre-eminent saga translator, among other things. For this reason, I am inclined to assume that the sometimes awkward and unrealistic dialogue is because it has been translated into British English. The translation detracts from the story in my opinion, whatever the reason.

You probably won't want to miss this since it is Indridason, and it is a look at contemporary Icelandic society. It could have been better, though. Indridason's characters are not portrayed with enough depth to be very sympathetic.

For a different point of view, see Batty's review.


Professor Batty said...

It almost isn't a real mystery at all; the mystery element is really secondary to Erlendur's internal mysteries. An odd book. My images of the hotel were colored by having stayed once at the Hotel Borg, that shouldn't matter, but it made it more interesting for me.

Rose said...

Maybe the claustrophobia was from being inside Erlender's head, rather than being in the hotel the whole book.

Professor Batty said...

My Happy Warrior review is ready. I'll post it Friday 12:01 AM CST.

Rose said...

The pressure is on!