Thursday, November 22, 2012
"Black Skies", by Arnaldur Indridason
As in the previous installment “Outrage” we have detective Erlendur still missing in action and out of reach on an extended absence leaving all investigations in the expert hands of his trusted colleagues. In this drama, at the helm and taking center stage is Sigurdur Oli, a well-known figure that appeared numerous times in previous novels.
The story is set in 2005 when Iceland was in the middle of an economic boom and opens with Sigurdur attending a high school reunion. During the evening one of his old classmates approaches him with a problem that maybe he could discreetly help with: an influential friend is being blackmailed after he and his wife were unknowingly photographed at a swinger’s party. They desperately need help and don’t know who to turn to. Sigurdur agrees to look into the matter and after a preliminary investigation decides to pay the blackmailer a visit. To his surprise he finds the woman beaten to death in her apartment and wondering how he is going to explain to his superiors why he is on a murder site that doesn’t pertain to an open case. Fortunately he is assigned the case and his strongest lead takes him to the banking world that is now being fuelled by greed during the economic boom. Sigurdur quickly finds himself up to his neck in a world of high finances, money laundering and market manipulation where knowing too much can sometimes get you killed.
In a spin off plot Sigurdur is saddled with another case. A middle- aged alcoholic finally cracks under the burden of childhood memories and decides to take revenge against his step father who made growing up hell on earth.
The story is written with some witty humour and keen comments and has a cast of great characters each with their own personality. It gets off to a slow beginning while it skillfully and diplomatically creates the atmosphere of the different threads building into a suspenseful and satisfying mystery. The story also has an interesting view into how the force handles greed, depravity and murder.
“Black Skies” is a great addition to a terrific series.