Arnaldur Indriðason. La mujer de verde (aka Silencio sepulcral, 2008). Original title Grafarþögn (2001). English title: Silence of the Grave. Traducción de Enrique Bernardez. RBA Libros, S.A. Barcelona (2009). 304 p. ISBN: 978-84-9867-263-3.
Silence of the Grave was originally published in 2001 in Icelandic as Grafarþögn. This was the second book featuring Detective Inspector Erlendur translated into English, although it is actually number four in the series, the first two books are not available in English yet. The English translation by Bernard Scudder, in 2005, won the British Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger award for best crime novel of the year. I read this book in Spanish.
The book opens with the discovery of a human bone in a building under construction during a children’s party in Reykjavik. “He knew at once it was a human bone when he took it from the baby who was sitting on the floor chewing it.” The bone is part of a skeleton that experts say could lead buried since the end of World War II, some 70 years earlier, on the hillside of Grafarholt. When Erlendur arrives to oversee the excavation of the bones, he notices some red-currant bushes and wonders who might have planted them on this barren hillside.
While the archaeologists are excavating at a very slow pace, Erlendur has no patience and, together with his team, he starts to investigate the earlier life of this place, once a region of small farms and summer houses close to a military installation. From interviews with survivors of the original residents, they reconstruct the district’s history, only to find out an even more disturbing truth: the murder of souls.
Silence of the Grave was such a compelling reading that I was not able to put in down. I had to read it literally relentlessly. Its sense of time and space is absolutely great. The book is excellent because it is very well written and Indriðason is able to set the appropriate pace to a very intelligent story, one that perfectly binds the past with the present, slower when referring to the past, faster when focusing in the present. An exceptional deep story that reflects one of the biggest problems of our society and which, unfortunately, is still far from being solved. In a nutshell this is a superb book. A must read for all crime fiction fans.
2010 Scandinavian Reading Challenge Book # 4