Black Skies by Arnaldur Indridason opens with Erlendur still on leave in the country. In the last novel, Elínborg worked alone and the story was all about her. This time it is about Sigurdur Óli. He has been approached by a classmate to help his sister-in-law who got involved with “swinging” and is now being blackmailed.
Just as the last novel was a study in rape, this is a study in pedophilia and child porn. Many discussions of intimacy serve as the backbone of this novel. We first hear about swinging couples and then some more about individuals in these couples. We hear about a drunk who is reliving his childhood abuse and filming by his stepfather and now his sudden discovery of his stepfather. Sigurdur’s relationships with his mother and his old schoolmates. Finally we have the relationship of Sigurdur and his now divorced wife, Bergthóra. The title is perfect as all of these relationships are under black skies.
The murdered lady was a swinger, a married woman who slept around, as did her husband, and a blackmailer. And of course what wouldn’t make an Icelandic novel more complete than corrupt, bad mannered, pompous, greedy bankers before their fall. Most of the action is in Reykjavik with a stroll and discussion about the symphony center, Harpa, which is under construction in this novel. It is complete now and is very controversial.
There is a great deal packed into these 330 pages. Erlendur has been gone a fortnight out east presumably looking for traces of his long lost brother. In that time we have been entertained to two great novels about his fellow detectives, Elínborg in the last novel and Sigurdur in this one. We now know a great deal of all three of these interesting Icelandic detectives and about Iceland. I can’t wait till the next novel is released.