Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Review of Black Skies by Arnaldur Indridason (Harvill Secker, 2012)
Having read all seven, translated police procedural novels by Arnaldur Indridason featuring Erlandur and his team, I was looking forward to reading Black Skies. It was, however, a book I struggled to get into and I might have put it to one side to pick up again later except for the fact that it was the only reading material I had on a flight. The first hundred pages or so seemed ponderous and lifeless, the writing, especially the dialogue, flat. Sigurdur Oli is out of sorts and so is the tale. Indridason’s writing is always a little ponderous, building up in layers, gently engulfing the reader in an atmospheric fog, but it didn’t quite work in the first half of Black Skies. However, by the second half of the book the story took on more shape, purpose and pace, with the various strands being woven together to create a nice tapestry. It was almost if Indridason started off without really knowing Sigurdur or the plot and developed each as the story unfolded, slowly putting a form on each. The tale itself, with its three interconnected storylines - the murder investigation, Sigurdur’s private life, and Andreas’ disassembly - eventually work themselves out nicely. Moreover, given that the story is set just prior to the Icelandic financial meltdown it provides a nice insight into the national psyche concerning its new found wealth and its trappings. Overall, a book that takes a while to get going, but rounds out into a satisfactory police procedural.