Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason is the last translated book that will win the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) gold dagger award. Since losing BCA sponsorship, the organisation is changing the rules so that from this year only books written originally in English can win. On this occasion, the translator from the Icelandic, who has done a brilliant job, is Bernard Scudder.
I’ve been wanting to read Indridason’s book since it won in 2005, but have waited until its UK paperback publication. In the meantime, I read an earlier book by the same author, Jar City (also called Tainted Blood), which I enjoyed very much, although the denouement was unconvincing. There is something about Scandinavian detective fiction to which I (and many others, clearly) strongly relate: Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum and, yet to be read by me but in the queue, Liza Marklund.
Back to Silence of the Grave. Some old bones are discovered at a child’s birthday party, and Erlendur and team are bought in to investigate. At the same time, Erlendur’s daughter Eva Lind half-reaches out to him in final desperation. The police investigation of the people who lived on the hillside at the time the body was buried, together with Erlendur’s attempts to help his tragic daughter, are told with remarkable depth, illuminating the effects of despair — despair leading to spousal abuse, to emotional detachment and abandonment of a marriage and children, — all told from every perspective (child, parent, abuser, abusee, child within parent, etc) with enormous empathy for (most of) those concerned. Eventually, the mystery is solved, and despite plenty of sadness in the stories told here, in the end there is hope. Not too much, just enough.
See here for a summary of the various CWA awards and tables of past winners in all categories.
See here for an article in the Bookseller about the new "no translation" CWA rules.