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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

domestic violence & moral chaos without hope

Arnaldur IndriĆ°ason "silence of the grave" is a second novel with the same "hero" Erlendur a police investigator who pursues his pet projects on company time in manner which could only make a real police investigator laugh at the absurdity of it. In this story vast amounts of human resources are expended on solving an unreported crime which is at least sixty years old and all the major players are dead. Our hero Erlendur is caught up in a personal tragedy which is a somewhat distracting subplot. However, Erlendur's attempt to reconcile himself with his personal failing as a father decades ago adds some depth to his investigation of an old crime which was rooted in domestic abuse. In other words, the threads of the story do come together into one fabric, eventually.

Once again, this is not a thriller. There is little suspense. The plot is complicated by multiple rapid time shifts which on first reading are potentially confusing. The theme which is central to the story is relationships between man and woman in and out of marriage in a culture where religion and law have little or no influence on human behavior. The graphic depiction of abuse and hatred between man and wife, former lovers and so forth is so raw and untempered that some people will find the story hard to read. This is not a pretty picture.

The enigmatic appearance and disappearance of a would be deliverer in the form of a GI private from Brooklyn illustrates the complexity of the author's treatment of human evil. We are left wondering at the end if the GI from Brooklyn is just another evil man in a story filled with evil men. His appearance certainly seems to be motivated by a mixture of compassion and self serving. His positive impact on the life a family is significant but at the critical moment, he isn't there.

more on this later.


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