Arnaldur Indridason's follow up to his first novel, Jar City, is gripping and emotionally charged. Silence of the Grave touches on subject matter that will pull at the heartstrings, stir up anger and leave behind a sense of sadness, yet
that at the same time proves to be quite satisfying.
A young boy discovers a bone while playing in an unfinished hillside housing development. His mother is stunned. A fifth-year medical student confirms that the bone is a human remain, and the police are called out. Inspectors Elínborg and Olí are quick to the scene, followed closely by Inspector Erlendur. Determining that it would be best to handle the scene with care, Olí calls upon an archeologist to assess the situation.
Soon a team quickly converges on the scene commence an excavation. The three inspectors are faced with a lot of unanswered questions, and because of the age and lack of information about a possible crime having been committed, the three are on their own. The bones appear to be several decades old, but the gender and identity remain unknown. There is little doubt that the victim buried in the earth met with foul play; however, the reasons and exact cause behind the death are not yet known.
As the investigation gets underway, Erlendur is fighting his own personal demons. A panicked call from his estranged daughter forces him to seek her out. He must enter into her world and learn things about her he wished he did not
need to know. His search also forces him to look into his own past and the choices he made years ago. His doubts and fear surface, and he must decide whether he is ready to face them.
Woven throughout the unfolding investigation is the story of a mother who longs for a good father for her child and instead enters into a nightmare, one that will have a lasting impact on the entire family. It becomes a game of survival both for her and her children
as they live in fear every day.
Although the novel opens with the merriment of a child’s birthday party, it soon spirals into a much darker place. Violence and shame mark the lives of many of the characters in the author's second book.
Indridason does not shy away from the intensity of the violence, although he
approaches it in a way that is not heavy-handed. A master at crafting his
characters, he maintains a little mystery while slowly opening a window into their souls. The author captures the emotional terror, pain and doubt his characters endure.
The novel could be set anywhere; the problems and issues that arise in Arnaldur
Indridason’s book cross all borders. Domestic violence, child abuse and drug use have a profound affect on those
on those they touch physically and psychologically. People choose to look away, not wanting to get involved or step in to help.
Yet Iceland is the perfect setting with its expansive landscape and ever-growing population as it struggles with
myriad social issues that reveal the shady side of a remarkable culture.
Silence of the Grave is a compelling mystery that carries the reader into the ugly underbelly of Reykjavík and into the countryside with its darkest secrets
of a long-ago war. The author’s characterizations bring the book to life,
ensuring that Indridason's poignant tale will get under the reader’s skin and leave him or her wanting more.