36. - 595.) Voices by Arnaldur Indridason – It is Christmas time in Iceland. For Inspector Erlendur every Christmas is a blue Christmas. Since a tragedy in childhood there has been no spirit of Christmas in his life. With neither activities nor festivities awaiting him, dealing with a murder causes no interference in his life.
Called to one of Rekjavik’s largest hotels he finds the doorman / handyman, Gudlaugur, dead in his room. It is among the saddest of deaths. Gudlaugur, wearing a Santa suit, has been stabbed to death and left in a very compromising position.
As the police probe his past they find he was an outstanding boy soprano in a well known Icelandic choir. Gudlaugur’s life was changed forever in a single moment. While most people are formed over time by small and large events for Gudlaugur there was a critical moment that transformed his life.
Listening to a record of Gudlaugur’s beautiful boy soprano voice sends Erlandur back into his childhood to relive the traumatic event that irrevocably altered his life.
At the same time Elinborg is investigating the severe beating of a young boy who cannot talk about what happened. She is convinced it is the father.
Erlendur’s daughter, Eva Lind, a long time drug addict seeks to understand her distant father who let himself be cut off from his children.
The investigation proceeds slowly. No fellow employees acknowledge a relationship. Gudlaug has no friends. He is estranged from his family. He died a lonely man in a solitary existence.
A strange British record collector is in the hotel. He had been seeking copies of the records made by Gudlaugur. Their rarity has made them very valuable.
As details of Gudlaugur’s life are gradually revealed Erlendur keeps being forced to consider his own past and how a single event still affects his life.
I have not had a single moment that defined the rest of my life. All of us know people in real life as haunted by a childhood event as Erlendur and Gudlaugur.
Christmas is a time to celebrate life and peace. When life is a trial and there is no inner peace Christmas is the most difficult of seasons. Gudlaugur never got the chance to change his life before being killed. Erlendur wants to put the past behind him but it is so difficult.
I was reminded of Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny. As Inspector Gamache struggles to deal with recent mistakes Erlendur is starting to address his errors stretching back to his pre-teen days.
It is a challenge to meld three parallel stories. Indridason has accomplished the feat superbly. (June 29/11)
Jose Ignacio in his fine blog The Game's Afoot has information on the author, a review of the book and links to other reviews.