“Silence of the Grave”  written by Arnaldur Indridason and translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder is the second translated book in the Reykjavik series featuring Detective Erlendur.
In this entry, Erlendur and his team are tackling a cold case. A skeleton has been found in the Millennium Quarter, in what appears to be a shallow grave. Erlendur decides to use archeologists over forensics, to dig, sweep and brush around the bones in the hopes of uncovering any evidence intact. It is a slow and tedious process that allows Erlendur and his team to investigate a case that is said to be at least 50 years old.
Erlendur directs his colleagues to search missing persons and the national registry for a family who may have lived on the hill where the bones were found. It’s discovered that there was once a chalet, built on the hill, rented out to a family of five during World War II. The story is told in alternating events taking place in the past and present, branching off into three separate subplots.
One involves domestic abuse and the other involves a missing person case. The last centers around Erlendur’s personal life. He’s dealing with some emotional baggage and coping with a personal situation involving his daughter, Eva Lind. She’s a drug addict who sought him out when she left home. The two have an embittered relationship but something bad happens to make Erlendur revisit his demons, burdens and regrets.
What can I say? I enjoyed this story. There’s a lot to recommend this author and this series. First off, excellent characterizations. I tend to gravitate toward character driven stories. Another good thing: a sound plot with a great first line which immediately hooks you right into the story. The villainy was a bit over the top I thought. Also, I tend to get a bit impatient when writers tend to draw out a suspenseful scene. I will admit, my heart was racing a little to get to the end. The way the author structured the story was nice. He had Erlendur and his team investigating and unearthing details in the present while the story unfolded for us in parallel fashion in the past. Neither thread reveals any surprises ahead of the other which made for a tight and suspenseful read.
Overall, this entry is a bit darker. I liked that we got to know Erlendur a little better. We get to meet his ex-wife and she didn’t disappoint. After 20 years she’s still bitter that Erlendur left her. I’m told there’s more to that in later books. I find that the personal issues that Erlendur has to deal with while working his cases makes him all the more interesting to me and more real. Gives him some depth. Overall, great read and probably a more solid story but still, Jar City is my favorite. For my next read, I think I will tackle something else next. B.