Review: Black Skies by Arnaldur Indriðason


Esta entrada es blingüe, desplazarse hacia abajo para ver la versión en castellano

Translated by Victoria Cribb. Original title: Svörtuloft (2009). Kindle Edition. 470 KB. Vintage Digital, 2012. ASIN: B007MCALM6

Black Skies is the eight book in Reykjavik Murder Mysteries series translated into English, although it’s actually the tenth instalment. The first two novels have not been published in translation yet. It was originally published in Iceland in 2009, but the action takes place in 2005, three years before the financial crisis. Detective Erlendur is away in a remote part of Iceland, as we found out in Outrage, the previous book. In fact, the action is set around the same dates as Outrage, but the investigation is carried out by Sigurdur Òli in this case.

At a meeting with his former classmates, Sigurdor Òli came into contact with Patrekur, the closest thing he has to a best friend, who asked him for an appointment for the next day. Sigurdur Òli was slightly depressed.  ‘He wondered if he had achieved the least of all of them since leaving school’. ‘When Sigurdur Òli compared himself to his former classmates – his life in the force, the sort of investigations he was involved in, his colleagues Erlendur and Ellinborg, and all the human drolls he was forced to deal with every day – he could find little reason to be cheerful.’

The following day, Patrekur appears with Hermann, his wife’s brother-in-law. About two years ago, Hermann and his wife, Súsanna’s sister, went to a swingers party where they came into contact with Lina and Ebbi. Without them realising, Lina and Ebbi took pictures and now they threaten to publish those photos on the Internet if they don’t pay up. Súsanna’s sister is engaged in politics and she can’t afford a scandal that could ruin her career. They ask Sirgurdur Òli assistance to sort things out. 

Determined to help his friend, Sigurdur Òli arrives at Lina’s house. The door is ajar and he catches sight of ‘a woman lying on the floor in a pool of blood with a large gash in her head.’ He assumes she must be Lina, the alleged blackmailer. When Lina dies a couple of days later, it  becomes a murder case, but Sigurdur Oli could be off the case given his direct involvement. At the same time, he has trouble explaining his presence there while trying not to incriminate his best friend.

Meanwhile, we will find out that his marriage with Bergthóra is over, and will get to know the difficult relationship he has with his divorced parents. Besides, between chapters, we will learn about an enigmatic character named Andres. Finally the strange disappearance of a banker during a trip to the glaciers raises new questions to the investigation.

One aspect that have interested me most about this book is the evolution experienced by Sigurdur Òli and the magnificent description of the Icelandic economy in the months prior to the financial crisis. I have also found very attractive and well developed the police procedure that ends with some unexpected twists and turns. All in all a very satisfying novel by Arnaldur Indridason, an excellent storyteller that has never disappointed me.

My rating: 5/5.

To date the complete list of the books in this series is as follows: Synir duftsins, 1997 (Sons of Dust); Dauðarósir, 1998 (Silent Kill); Mýrin, 2000 (first published in English as Jar City, 2004 (aka Tainted Blood) although the initial title is still used in the United States; Grafarþögn, 2001 (Silence of the Grave, 2005); Röddin, 2002 (Voices, 2006); Kleifarvatn, 2004 (The Draining Lake, 2007); Vetrarborgin, 2005 (Arctic Chill, 2008); Harðskafi, 2007 (Hypothermia, 2009); Myrká, 2008 (Outrage, 2011); Svörtuloft, 2009 (Black Skies, 2012); Furðustrandir, 2010 and Einvígið, 2011.

Black Skies has been reviewed by Michael Carlson at Irresistible Targets, Simon Clarke at Amazon Customer Reviews, Maxine Clarke at Euro Crime, and Sarah Ward at Crimepieces, among others.   

Vintage Books


Black Skies de Arnaldur Indridason

Black Skies es el octavo libro de la serie Misteriosos Asesinatos en Reykjavik traducido al inglés, aunque en realidad es la décima entrega, Las dos primeras novelas no han sido publicadas en inglés todavía. Fue publicado originalmente en Islandia en el 2009, la acción tiene lugar en el 2005, tres años antes de la crisis financiera. El detective Erlendur está ausente, continúa en una parte remota de Islandia, como ya sabemos por Outrage, el libro anterior. De hecho, la acción se sitúa en las mismas fechas que Outrage, sólo que la investigación está protagonizada por Sigurdur Òli en este caso.

En una reunión con sus antiguos compañeros de clase Sigurdor Òli entró en contacto con Patrekur, lo más cercano que tiene a un mejor amigo, quien le pidió una cita para el día siguiente. Sigurdor Òli estaba algo deprimido. “Se preguntaba si acaso había sido el que menos éxito había alcanzado de todos ellos desde que terminó el colegio“. “Cuando Sigurdur Oli se comparaba con sus antiguos compañeros de clase – su vida en la policía, el tipo de investigaciones en las que se veía involucrado, sus colegas Erlendur y Ellinborg, y todos los seres ridículos con los que se veía obligado a tratar todos los días – no pudo encontrar motivo alguno para estar alegre”.

Al día siguiente, Patrekur aparece con Hermann, el cuñado de su esposa. Hace unos dos años, Hermann y su esposa, la hermana de Súsanna, fueron a una fiesta de intercambio de parejas donde entraron en contacto con Lina y Ebbi. Sin ellos darse cuenta, Lina y Ebbi tomaron fotos y ahora les amenazan con publicar esas fotos en Internet si no pagan. La hermana de Súsanna se dedica a la política y ella no puede permitirse un escándalo que podría arruinar su carrera. Le piden ayuda a Sigurdur Òli para solucionar esto.

Decidido a ayudar a su amigo, Sigurdur Òli llega a la casa de Lina. La puerta está entreabierta y ve “a una mujer tendida en el suelo en un charco de sangre con una gran herida en su cabeza“. Supone que debe ser Lina, la supuesta chantajista. Cuando Lina muere dos días después, se convierte en un caso de asesinato, pero Sigurdur Òli podría quedar apartado del caso dada su implicación directa. Al mismo tiempo, tiene problemas para explicar su presencia allí mientras intenta no incriminar a su mejor amigo.

Mientras tanto, vamos a descubrir que su matrimonio con Bergthóra se ha roto y vamos a conocer la difícil relación que mantiene con sus padres que están divorciados. Además entre los capítulos, vamos a oir hablar de un enigmático personaje llamado Andrés. Por último, la extraña desaparición de un banquero durante un viaje a los glaciares plantea nuevas interrogantes a la investigación.

Uno de los aspectos que me han interesado más de este libro es la evolución experimentada por Sigurdur Oli y la magnífica descripción de la economía islandesa en los meses previos a la crisis financiera. También he encontrado muy atractivo y bien desarrollado el procedimiento policial que termina con algunos giros inesperados. En suma, una novela muy satisfactoria de Arnaldur Indridason, un narrador excelente que nunca me ha decepcionado.

Mi calificación: 5/5.

Hasta la fecha, la lista completa de los libros de esta serie es la siguiente: Synir duftsins, 1997; Dauðarósir, 1998; Mýrin, 2000 (Las marismas, RBA 2009); Grafarþögn, 2001 (La mujer de verde, RBA 2009, inicialmente publicada como Silencio sepulcral, 2008); Röddin, 2002 (La Voz, RBA 2010); Kleifarvatn, 2004 (El hombre del lago, RBA 2010); Vetrarborgin, 2005 (Invierno ártico, RBA 2012); Harðskafi, 2007; Myrka, 2008; Svörtuloft, 2009; Furðustrandir, 2010; y Einvígið, 2011.

RBA

12 thoughts on “Review: Black Skies by Arnaldur Indriðason

  1. José Ignacio – Thanks for the excellent review. I’m not surprised that you rated this one as highly as you did, although of course I’m glad you enjoyed it. One of the things I like about Arnaldur Indriðason’s work is that he’s innovative. He lets different protagonists “take the lead” for novels. I like that approach to keeping a series interesting.

  2. Thanks for the link Jose. I enjoyed this book very much too and I have chosen it for my book of the month. I always look forward to new offerings from this writer and he never fails to disappoint.

  3. Excellent review, Jose Ignacio. It is so nice to read this series, I have never been disappointed in any of them – to the contrary the books seem to get better and better. (In this sense, similar to Michael Connelly, in that there is a regular framework but the books don’t follow a formula.) I think Black Skies excellent, as you write, in the way it combines a crime novel with psychological and personal insights as well as social comment.

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words, Maxine. Your encouragement really means a lot to me. You are absolutely right to point out that even if there is a regular framework, neither Indridason nor Connelly, follow a formula.

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