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Voices [Mass Market Paperback]

Arnaldur Indridason
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 25 2007 Reykjavik Thriller
Following the huge success of Silence of the Grave, Indridason has followed through with another spellbinding thriller — the third in the award-winning Reykjavik Murder Mysteries.

At a grand Reykjavik hotel the doorman has been repeatedly stabbed in the dingy basement room he called home. It is only a few days before Christmas and he was preparing to appear as Santa Claus at a children’s party. The manager tries to keep the murder under wraps. A glum detective taking up residence in his hotel and an intrusive murder investigation are not what he needs.

As Erlendur quietly surveys the cast of grotesques who populate the hotel, the web of malice, greed and corruption which lies beneath its surface reveals itself. Everyone has something to hide. But most shocking is the childhood secret of the dead man who, many years before, was the most famous child singer in the country: it turns out to be a brush with stardom that would ultimately cost him everything. As Christmas Day approaches, Erlendur must delve deeply into the past to find the man’s killer.

Voices is a tense, atmospheric and disturbing novel from one of Europe’s greatest crime writers.

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From Publishers Weekly

Gold Dagger Award–winner Indridason stumbles in his third Reykjavik thriller to feature Insp. Erlendur Sveinsson (after 2006's Silence of the Grave). A few days before Christmas, Erlendur and his colleagues, Elínborg and Sigurdur Óli, look into the scandalous murder of Gudlaugur, a local Santa Claus, at a busy hotel. As Erlendur and his team scramble to find a motive for the seemingly senseless crime, disturbing secrets from Gudlaugur's past begin to surface. In a hotel full of foreign holiday guests, Erlendur investigates everyone from a slippery British record collector to a sullen maid who reminds Erlendur of his own daughter. Snippets of a previous investigation involving child abuse distract from the Gudlaugur case. Despite a drawn-out climax where Erlendur tries to put all the pieces together, most readers will predict the terrible secret that led to Gudlaugur's death. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“If you like your thrillers slow but masterfully written then this one is for you.”
Irish Times

“Morosely, intelligently, Erlendur unravels the mystery. With Voices Indridason proves that his Golden Dagger victory for Silence of the Grave last year was no fluke.”
The Times

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring book Sept. 29 2012
Format:Paperback
I had great expectations for this book but was sorely disappointed. I found the characters lacking in depth and very stereotypical, and the plot to be rather boring and tedious. I much prefer Jo Nesbo.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A dark Christmas Sept. 27 2009
By Prairie Pal TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
What do you do when the Santa Claus who is supposed to be hosting a hotel children's party turns up dead in his dingy basement room with a knife wound in his chest, his pants round his ankles and a condom still on? Summon Reykjavik's gloomiest detective of course. Erlendur Sveinsson, hero of Arnaldur Indridason's 9-volume series of Icelandic mysteries, is a dysfunctional as ever, here in 'Voices', the fourth book of the set. Separated from his wife, barely on speaking terms with his junkie daughter and resistant to all his colleagues' attempts to cheer him up at Christmas, Erlendur moves into an unheated hotel room to solve the murder of a Santa who was once a child musical prodigy. Paedophiles, prostitutes, bitter relatives and pimps inhabit the world he must delve into until finally the case is solved and momentarily Erlendur's spirits are lifted as he exits the hotel singing a Nordic Christmas carol. Lovers of Scandinavian mysteries with their emphasis on the bleakness of the landscape and full of interior dialogue will find this book very satisfying.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound and Disturbing May 20 2008
By Toni Osborne TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The third book in the Reykjavik Murder Mysteries series

In a well known Reykjavik hotel, the doorman "Santa stand-in" is found stabbed to death and left in a compromising position. Detectives Erlendur and Sigurdur Oli discover that the late doorman was in fact a former child-prodigy choirboy well known for his recordings that are now collector's items. Could this be the reason he was murdered? As the Icelandic detectives delve into the homicide, they piece together the fragments of the deceased's tragic existence to find the murderer.

On a separate case, Inspector Elinborg deals with a badly battered boy and becomes emotionally involved in securing the conviction of the father.

On a private note, Erlenburg continues with his troubled family relationships both with the ghosts of his own youth and coping with the problem of Eva Lind, his daughter, who is fighting a drug addiction and the traumatic loss of her stillborn baby.

"Voices" is a tense, profound and disturbing novel; Indridason explores the dark corners of human nature by allowing the reader to get inside his protagonist's head. All the characters are fascinating in their own way with a well defined personality; you are drawn to them immediately. The story is far more than a murder mystery; it is one about the loss of innocence, ruined childhood and family secrets, very touching, you can't help but feel deeply for each person's saga. Right from the start you are captivated by the action and the drama. Indridason has once again delivered a spellbinding thriller and I am looking forward to the sequel "The Draining Lake"
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4.0 out of 5 stars `Who appointed you the conscience of the world?' Nov. 26 2010
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Just days before Christmas, Gudlauger Egilsson, Reykjavik hotel doorman, handyman and occasional Santa Claus is found stabbed to death in his room in the hotel basement. Detective Erlundur , and his team of Óli and Elínborg are called in to investigate.

It seems that Gudlauger , a long-term hotel employee, was largely invisible to his co-workers. And none of the staff seem very keen to assist the police. Erlendur takes a room at the hotel, partly to irritate the manager and partly because he cannot face the emptiness of his flat. Staying in this room, which is neither nice nor effectively heated, gives Erlendur an opportunity to observe the hotel at work and to focus on the case.

As Erlendur discovers more about the life of the victim, he also becomes introspective about his own life. Elínborg is distracted by the concurrent case of a schoolboy who has been badly beaten. A gang of young bullies may be involved, but Elínborg thinks the boy's father may be involved.

Each of these strands involves some level of dysfunction in families, and an absence of effective communication. Each of the storylines complement each other without slowing the pace of the story. And the answers? Who did kill Gudlauger, and why? The mystery is solved in the final pages, but what a sad journey it is.

This is the third novel in the Reykjavik Murder Mysteries, which now totals six. It is the first I've read, but I'll be looking to read the others (in order).

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  104 reviews
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Icelandic noir Sept. 26 2008
By cait - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is the week before Christmas and we are in the far north, almost guaranteed a snowy, white holiday. But it you looking for a cozy mystery, perhaps you should look elsewhere, because this book would seem to fall distinctly in the category of 'noir', defined in Merriam-Webster as "crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings." Yes, cynical...and yes, bleak...and in "Voices" that is a very enjoyable combination for the reader.

The holidays are approaching, and in the basement of Iceland's very popular Grand Reykjavik Hotel, a body has been found. The victim of the brutal stabbing is the hotel's doorman, discovered half dressed in the suit he was going to wear to play Santa at an employee party. Found with his pants down around his ankles, in a very compromising position, in the nasty, empty little room in which he lived. Called in to investigate is Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson and his team, each with their own very distinct personalities. Erlendur is himself a rather bleak yet compelling character. Divorced for decades, alone, almost a stranger to his two now grown, troubled children, he might seem at first an unlikely sympathetic character. But as with all the folks here, we learn that what we at first see is not all there is to the story.

For example, Erlendur is still haunted by the death of his younger brother when they were both just children, the boy lost forever on a snowy Icelandic moor, while Erlendur was found and saved.

"He was older and was responsible for his sibling. It had always been that way. He had taken care of him. In all their games. When they were home alone. When they were sent off on errands. He had lived up to those expectations. On this occasion he had failed, and perhaps he did not deserve to be saved since his brother had died. He didn't know why he had survived. But he sometimes thought it would have been better if he were the one lying lost on the moor."

That death and his sense of responsibility for it has colored ever aspect of his life since and is perhaps one reason he find himself at an almost total loss as to how to deal with his own daughter Eva Lind, a drug addict, suffering her own guilt over the death of her prematurely born daughter. But it is also why he is so dedicated to his job.
And besides the murder, there is also woven through the book another little subplot of a young boy who has been very severely beaten, maybe by his father. But again, there is more to this than meets the eye at first.
Yes, there is a lot of angst in beautiful, snowy Iceland this Christmas.

While the story and the setting and the writing itself are spare and a bit bleak, the author's great ability to develop these characters, including even the victim, and a glimpse of Icelandic culture, raises what might otherwise be an ordinary police procedural to another level. The third in a series, along with 'Jar City' and 'Silence of the Grave', 'Voices' is a very fine stand alone mystery. I know that I will be going back and reading the previous two and then will catch up on the latest, 'The Draining Lake'.

Now if I could just get the hang of these Icelandic names.....
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exhausted Already? Let's Hope Not! Sept. 7 2009
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Iceland is a nasty place as portrayed in the 'thriller' novels of Arnufur Indridason - gloomy, gritty, petty - and its folk have a taste for drugs, prostitution, and confrontational behavior. If I were the Director of Tourism in Iceland, I tell you, I'd pay Indridason a handsome bonus to write about some other country. This novel Voices, the third in a series featuring Police Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson, is the nastiest yet, with a lurid crime that leads to more and more perverse ugliness. Poor Erlendur is confronting another Christmas, that joyless holiday which he tries to ignore but which inevitably dredges up thoughts of his childhood tragedy. Most of the novel takes place in a hotel -- a tourist destination -- staffed by repulsive and evil-tempered goons. There's a good chance that one of them murdered Santa in flagrante in the hotel basement.

The first two novels in the series - Jar City & Silence of the Grave - were every bit as gritty and sleasy, but some half-concealed humanity in Inspector Erlendur made one empathize with the poor man and care about his agonies with his drug-addled daughter and alienated son. Well... in Voices, I could still squeeze out a little sympathy for Erlendur, but only because by now he's almost a black-sheep uncle. If you haven't read the prvious two novels, I truly doubt you'll get past chapter five of this one. One has to wonder, by the way, why Erlendur hasn't discovered prozac or celexa, in a country where 'drugs' are not unavailable. Is there a cultural prejudice against relief from depression except illegally?

And there's one glaring flaw in the none-too-credible mystery plot. The victim Santa was a boy soprano of great musical promise, whose voice "broke" without any warning in the middle of a showcase concert. After this sudden onslaught of puberty, he never recovered any musical talent. The experience essentially destroyed him and his family. Unfortunately, this is utterly implausible. Boys' voices do change in puberty, and the period of 'transition' can be problematic vocally, but such an instantaneous collapse of all vocal training is absurd. Now I know why lawyers snarl at Perry Mason and other 'courtroom' novels, and doctors smirk at 'hospital' dramas on the tube. Actually, I've never read a novel about musicians that showed much sense of how "we" get through life.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreaming of a Black Christmas Dec 10 2007
By Gary Griffiths - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Voices", the third Icelandic crime mystery written by Arnaldur Indridason and translated by Bernard Scudder, is as dark, brooding, and fatalistic as the two that preceded it.

But hey, if this were Tahiti, they wouldn't call it "Iceland".

And if one were to select a "Mr. Iceland" based on a personality most representative of this barren landscape of volcanoes and endless winter nights, Indridason's irascible police detective Erlander Sveinsson would leave the competition far behind.

In this installment of gloom, it is the Christmas season, and Erlander is called upon to investigate the murder of Gulauger Egilsson, a 50-ish doorman of one of Reykjavik's better hotels, found in his hotel basement room with his Santa Claus suit around his ankles and fatal knife wounds in his chest. What follows would be a rather pedestrian whodunit - a standard crime drama of turning up clues and connecting the dots - were it not for the talented Indridason and his penchant for painting with a palette of despair what could have been a Currier and Ives Scandinavian Holiday card. Unbeknownst to hotel management or staff, the reclusive Gulauger was once a child star - a choirboy of international fame, who at twelve had two records published, destined for fame and the Vienna Boys' Choir. But not content to rely solely on poor Gulanger's sordid tale, the author deftly weaves together parallel threads, each apparently competing to see which can be more depressing. We have Erlander's partner Elinborg chasing down a case of parental child abuse, while his daughter bounces from thoughts of suicide to drug addiction, pining over her complicity in the death of her own infant daughter. And Erlander, his own solitude no longer an effective shield under the tidal waves of grief and murder that surround him, reflects on and nearly confronts his own unresolved guilt following the death of his younger brother decades before. These threads wind tightly together in a tapestry of pain, lurching and stumbling, taking more twists than a pretzel factory in reaching a bitterly ironic, while fitting, climax.

So by now, you're probably wondering how this smörgåsbord of sorrow could rate five stars. The answer is Indridason's prose, the magic of a straightforward and unapologetic slice of life - not the way we'd wish it or the way Hollywood would have us believe it - but the way it is. Depressing - maybe - but there is also strength and nobility in the grit of real people confronting real adversities and struggling, or failing, to simply survive. This is tough stuff, but in its own way powerful and, if not redeeming, certainly memorable. But if all of these psychological mumbo jumbo ramblings of desperation are still putting you off - take heart. For at it's core, "Voices" is simply a darn good mystery wrapped around a cleverly inventive - if sad - plot. So if you want smiley, happy, beautiful people obsessed with fashion trends and trendy relationships, fire up the tube and surf over to the "Friends" re-runs. But if noir served up cold is your midnight snack, let the cagey Mr. Indridason take you on this tour of Iceland you'll never find in the travelogues.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Reykjavik Jan. 26 2010
By C.Wallace - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great book. It engaged my interest from the beginning through the final, 313th, page. It's the fourth Arnaldur Indridason novel that I've read. I would be hard pressed to compare this with the other three. Perhaps there's more contemplation and less action than in the others.

The central story is that of a hotel doorman/handyman who lives in a dingy little room in the hotel basement. About a week before Christmas, dressed as Santa, he is stabbed to death in his room. He was getting ready to serve as Santa at a hotel party.

Leading the police team investigating the murder is Inspector Erlendur, Indridason's star. Erlender does not roam far in this book; he checks into a room at the hotel and uses it as his base. He gets to know several of the hotel employees.

I don't want to say too much more. I don't want to spoil this excellent mystery. The reader learns a lot about the victim, whose life took a pivotal turn when he was twelve, some thirty-six years before his death.

There are many fascinating twists and turns, particularly at the end. Indridason is a master at character development. His prose is stark and powerful.

Highly recommended
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Owe it to Yourself! Dec 18 2006
By L. Polsue - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I just finished reading 3 books (in 3.5 days) by a wonderful author I've recently discovered: Arnaldur Indridason & he's Icelandic.

The 3 books that have been translated into English are: JAR CITY (2004), SILENCE OF THE GRAVE (2005) & VOICES (2006). Two more are scheduled for release late next year and I can hardly wait!!!

It's truly a fascinating read and it pulled me in FAST, drawing me to the next novel and then the next at a pretty fast clip.

There's not the kind of action, drama, gruesomeness that is in many crime/thriller novels these days. There is a feeling that you accompany the detectives on their journey to a resolution. You can feel the cold, see the landscape, experience the smells and the warmth of a fire!

It's like watching a foreign movie. You're drawn into an interplay with the characters as they evolve. If Arnaldur Indridson's books were made into movies, they'd need Alfred Hitchcock as the director. Both can (could) tease you with fear that's been subtly created.

I can't say enough. Check this author out yourself.
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